Werner Braun

Its pointed prow cutting through the stark Judean Desert near the western shore of the Dead Sea, the clifftop fortress of Masada became the rebel capital after Jerusalem’s capture and destruction by the Romans in 70 A.D. The Romans were obsessed with its conquest. They sent 8,000 to 10,000 men to surround the fortress with siege walls in a failed attempt to starve the rebels into submission and to prevent others from joining them. Easily seen even today are the camps of the Roman soldiers, which appear here as large and small rectangles at the base of Masada.

Though certainly the best known, Masada is only one of several wilderness strongholds to which Jewish fighters retreated over the centuries during rebellions against foreign rulers. It was only when such strongholds were captured that the occupying powers could feel that they had finally put down the rebellion.