B.C.E. (Before the Common Era) and C.E. (Common Era), used by this author are the alternate designations corresponding to B.C. and A.D. often used in scholarly literature.


Until 1968, Gamla was thought to be located on a small spur in the Wadi Rukkad, a deep gorge now in the no-man’s-land between Israel and Syria, about six miles southeast of Gamla. This site was suggested in 1924 by the German scholar Gustav Dalman (Orte und Wege Jesu [Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1967 (1924)], p. 10, n. 3). It was based on an incorrect identification of Tarichaea at the southern end of Sea of Galilee (Pliny the Elder writing in the first century C.E. wrongly identified Tarichaea as being south of Tiberias [Historia Naturalis 5.71]) and on the assumption that a nearby village named Jamila was a corruption of Gamla. In fact, jamila means “beautiful” in Arabic.


See Ehud Netzer, “The Last Days and Hours at Masada,” BAR 17:06.


See Shlomit Nemlich and Ann Killebrew, “Rediscovering the Ancient Golan—The Golan Archaeological Museum,” BAR 14:06.



The raw material for this article is a joint effort by the entire staff—through digging, researching and discussion—S. Gutmann, Z. Yavor, D. Goren and myself.


Josephus, The Jewish War preface. 5; 2,388–389,520. See also Lea Roth-Gerson, “The Contribution of Josephus Flavius to the Study of the Jewish Diaspora in the Hellenistic-Roman Period,” in Josephus Flavius—Historian of Eretz Israel in the Hellenistic Roman Period, ed. Uriel Rappaport (Jerusalem: Yad Izhak Ben Zvi, 1982), p. 190 (in Hebrew, English summary).


The flints were researched and published by the late Ya’akov Olami of Haifa, “The Lithic Assemblages from the Early Bronze Age Layer at Gamla,” Metekufat Haeven 22 (1989), pp. 115*–119*.


See Amnon Ben-Tor, “A Fourth Millennium B.C.E. Seal Impression from Gamla,” Eretz Israel 18 (1985), pp. 90–92 (in Hebrew).


The virgin oil from each year’s first pressing was sent to the Temple as tribute, cf. Leviticus 24:2; Numbers 18:12; Mishnah Menachot 8:3. Gentile oil was forbidden to Jews, Mishnah Avoda Zara 2:6. For oil trade with the Jewish diaspora, see, for example, Josephus’ accusations against John of Gischala, who allegedly sold his oil at an exhorbitant price to Jews in Syria ( The Jewish War 2.591–592 and Vita 74–75).


Josephus, The Jewish War 1.105 and Antiquities of the Jews 13.394.


Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 17.23–31. For a discussion on the settlers in Herod’s time, see Shimon Applebaum, “The Troopers of Zamaris,” in Studies in the History of the Jewish People and the land of Israel, ed. A. Gilboa et al. (Haifa: Haifa Univ. Press, 1970), pp. 79–89 (in Hebrew, English summary).


Eleazar is said to be the descendant of Yehuda the Galilean, the founder of the Sicarii sect; see Josephus, The Jewish War 7.235. This same Yehuda was from Gamla (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 18.4–10) and the son of Hezekiah of Gamla, whom Herod executed as a brigand leader (Antiquities of the Jews 14.159). Yehuda is also mentioned in the New Testament as having been killed—possibly executed—by the Romans (Acts 5:37). As for the Sicarii versus Zealot identification of the defenders of Masada, the issue is still controversial. I prefer the word used by Josephus himself See Menachem Stern, “The Suicide of Eleazar Ben Yair and His Men on Masada and the ‘Fourth Philosophy,’” Zion 47 (1982), pp. 367–397 (in Hebrew).


Mishnah Arachin 9:6; Tosefta Arachin 5:17.


Josephus, The Jewish War 4.20.


Josephus, The Jewish War 4.23–26.


Josephus, The Jewish War 4.64–65, 67.


Josephus, The Jewish War 4.76.


Josephus, The Jewish War 4.80.


In the talmudic (Byzantine) period, the site of Gamla was within the area of Christian influence. On the ridge overlooking the site, near the present-day parking lot, a fortified Byzantine monastery exists—Deir Qaruh. Opposite Gamla to the south, on the slope of the Daliyot River, a small Christian Byzantine village was discovered by Shmarya Gutmann.


This happened at Jotapata, see Josephus, The Jewish War 3.340ff.


At Masada several hundred were found. See Jodi Magness, “The Weapons of Masada,” in Report on Masada Excavations, ed. Ehud Netzer (forthcoming).


In fact, there were no archery units in a Roman legion. See Jeffrey L. Davies, “Roman Arrowheads from Dinorben and the Sagittarii of the Roman Army,” Britannia 12 (1981), pp. 260–262.


See, for example, Danny Syon, “An Arrowhead in an Ancient Boat in the Sea of Galilee,” Atiqot 19 (1990), pp. 99–100.


Josephus, The Jewish War 7.275–406.


Josephus, The Jewish War 4.79, 80.


Mishnah Kelim 2:1.


Tosefta Eruvin 8:5, 9:6.


Until 1987 the coins were cleaned and identified by David Eidlin of Kibbutz Merhavya.


See Ya’akov Meshorer, Ancient Jewish Coinage (New York: Amphora, 1982), vol. 2, pp. 7–9).


Meshorer, Ancient Jewish Coinage, vol. 2, pp. 129–131.


Tosefta Trumot 9:9.