Dan Gill

The Romans had it easy. The natural ridge projecting from the west side of Masada meets with the cliff face approximately 43 feet below the top of the mount—not 450 feet as a quick reading of Josephus has led many to believe. In this photograph, the west cliff of Masada is the vertical formation on the left; the northern face of the western spur abuts the cliff from the right. The deep gully between them is Nahal Nimmer, through which water flows after rare rainfall in the desert. How do we know the Romans added a man-made ramp to the natural spur? Look closely at the rocks near the top of the slope and you’ll find that the slope’s surface can be distinguished from the solid layers of rocks below it. Gill also notes that Nahal Nimmer does not begin at the very top of the spur, an indication that the top layer of the spur is not natural but a recent addition.