Garo Nalbandian

Masada, the mountaintop site of a palace-fortress completed by Herod the Great (37–4 B.C.E.). Still occupied by 960 Zealot resistors at the end of the First Jewish Revolt against Rome (66–73 or 74 C.E.), Masada provided a seemingly impregnable refuge. The Romans, however, methodically applied their martial skills to the problem. To prevent the Zealots’ escape, they established around the mountain a circumvallation wall and a series of military camps for the men of the Tenth Roman Legion, visible as the rectangular patterns at left (camp F) and lower center (camp H). They then raised a ramp on the eastern flank, left, to permit Roman soldiers and their battering rams to approach the fortress wall. The Roman plan succeeded; Masada fell in 73 or 74 C.E. In our November/December 1991 issue, we looked at the Zealots’ “Last Days and Hours at Masada,” BAR 17:06, and in this article we investigate the Roman and Jewish Zealot armaments and tactics.