Erich Lessing

Gamla’s razor-edge ridge rises from the steep ravines surrounding it in the southern Golan. The Sea of Galilee shimmers in the distance, upper right. Chosen for its seemingly impregnable location by Jewish settlers in the first century, Gamla withstood the Roman onslaught for seven months during the First Jewish Revolt (66–70 A.D.). The events were related by the historian Flavius Josephus. Led by Vespasian, the Romans finally overwhelmed and destroyed the settlement on October 23, 67 A.D. Four thousand inhabitants perished by Roman swords, while 5,000 more leaped to their deaths rather than surrender. Thirteen seasons of excavation at the site has uncovered an abundance of artifacts, which may soon be exhibited in their own room at the Golan Archaeological Museum.