F. Schonbach

Resourceful defenders. Outmanned and “outgunned,” the Zealots relied on ingenuity to stave off the Roman onslaught. Taking advantage of their high ground and the plentiful supply of rocks, they apparently set up a ballista, a powerful catapult, on top of tower 1038. With this ballista, they bombarded the Romans building the siege ramp, slowing the work and thereby gaining time for their countermeasure, the reinforcing wall being constructed at the principal point of attack.

Individual defenders on the casemate wall could also drop boulders on soldiers attempting to climb or undermine the wall. At the same time, others contributed their labor to the defense of the fortress by hurriedly stripping roofs of buildings for the sake of the wooden beams within them and carrying the beams away to reinforce the wood-and-earth wall.

Eventually, according to Netzer, even the tower roof and the roofs on the casemate wall rooms were dismantled for their beams. When that happened, the ballista stones fell or were thrown into the now open casemate. Excavators found the spherical stones resembling cannon balls in three small rooms (1050, 1051 and 1052) beside the tower.