Guide Two Plays about Israel/Palestine: Masada, Facts

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Israel is a small country in the Middle East about the size of the state of New Jersey.
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Masada Hebrew for fortress is a place of gaunt and majestic beauty that has become one of the Jewish people's greatestsymbols as the place where the last Jewish stronghold against Roman invasion stood. Next to Jerusalem, it is the most popular destination of tourists visiting Israel. More than two thousand years have passed since the fall of the Masada fortress yet the regional climate and its remoteness have helped to preserve the remains of its extraordinary story.

Two Plays about Israel/Palestine: Masada, Facts - Arthur Milner - كتب Google

Masada is located atop an isolated rock cliff at the western end of the Judean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. On the east side, the rock falls in a sheer drop of about meters to the Dead Sea and on the western edge it stands about meters above the surrounding terrain. The natural approaches to the cliff top are very difficult. Calling himself Josephus Flavius, he became a Roman citizen and a successful historian.

After the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple 70 CE they were joined by zealots and their families who had fled from Jerusalem. There, they held out for three years, raiding and harassing the Romans. The Romans established camps at the base of Masada, laid siege to it and built a circumvallation wall.

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They then constructed a rampart of thousands of tons of stones and beaten earth against the western approaches of the fortress and, in the spring of 74 CE, moved a battering ram up the ramp and breached the wall of the fortress. Flavius dramatically recounts the story told him by two surviving women. The defenders — almost one thousand men, women and children — led by ben Yair, burnt down the fortress and killed each other. The Zealots cast lots to choose 10 men to kill the remainder. They then chose among themselves the one man who would kill the survivors.

That last Jew then killed himself. We were the very first that revolted, and we are the last to fight against them; and I cannot but esteem it as a favor that God has granted us, that it is still in our power to die bravely, and in a state of freedom. The story of Masada survived in the writings of Josephus but not many Jews read his works and for well over fifteen hundred years it was a more or less forgotten episode in Jewish history. Then, in the 's, Hebrew writer Isaac Lamdan wrote "Masada," a poetic history of the anguished Jewish fight against a world full of enemies.

The heroic story of Masada and its dramatic end attracted many explorers to the Judean desert in attempts to locate the remains of the fortress. The site was identified in , but intensive excavations took place only in the mid's with the help of hundreds of enthusiastic volunteers from Israel and from many foreign countries. The rhomboid, flat plateau of Masada measures x m.

The casemate wall two parallel walls with partitions dividing the space between them into rooms , is m. It was built along the edge of the plateau, above the steep cliffs, and it had many towers. Three narrow, winding paths led from below to fortified gates.

In New Play About Masada and Birthright, Everyone Is Shallow and Awful. The Play Is, Too.

The water supply was guaranteed by a network of large, rock-hewn cisterns on the northwestern side of the hill. They filled during the winter with rainwater flowing in streams from the mountain on this side. Cisterns on the summit supplied the immediate needs of the residents of Masada and could be relied upon in time of siege. To maintain interior coolness in the hot and dry climate of Masada, the many buildings of various sizes and functions had thick walls constructed of layers of hard dolomite stone, covered with plaster.

The higher northern side of Masada was densely built up with structures serving as the administrative center of the fortress and included storehouses, a large bathhouse and comfortable living quarters for officials and their families.

Arthur Milner

On the northern edge of the steep cliff, with a splendid view, stood the elegant, intimate, private palace-villa of the king. It was separated from the fortress by a wall, affording total privacy and security. This northern palace consists of three terraces, luxuriously built, with a narrow, rock-cut staircase connecting them. On the upper terrace, several rooms served as living quarters; in front of them is a semi-circular balcony with two concentric rows of columns.

The rooms were paved with black and white mosaics in geometric patterns. Remains of the Masada bathhouse. The two lower terraces were intended for entertainment and relaxation.

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The middle terrace had two concentric walls with columns, covered by a roof; this created a portico around a central courtyard. The lowest, square terrace has an open central courtyard, surrounded by porticos. Its columns were covered with fluted plaster and supported Corinthian capitals. The lower parts of the walls were covered in frescos of multicolored geometrical patterns or painted in imitation of cut marble.

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On this terrace was also a small private bathhouse. Here, under a thick layer of debris, were found the remains of three skeletons, of a man, a woman and a child. This consisted of two rows of long halls opening onto a central corridor. The floor of the storerooms was covered with thick plaster and the roofing consisted of wooden beams covered with hard plaster. Here, large numbers of broken storage jars which once contained large quantities of oil, wine, grains and other foodstuffs were found. Elaborately built, it probably served the guests and senior officials of Masada.

It consisted of a large courtyard surrounded by porticos and several rooms, all with mosaic or tiled floors and some with frescoed walls. The largest of the rooms was the hot room caldarium. Its suspended floor was supported by rows of low pillars, making it possible to blow hot air from the furnace outside, under the floor and through clay pipes along the walls, to heat the room to the desired temperature.

This is the largest building on Masada, covering over 4, square meters one acre. It consists of four wings: an elaborate royal apartment, a service and workshop section, storerooms and an administrative unit. In the royal apartment, many rooms were built around a central courtyard. On its southern side was a large room with two Ionic columns supporting the roof over the wide opening into the courtyard.


Its walls were decorated with molded panels of white stucco. On the eastern side were several rooms with splendid colored mosaic floors. One of these, the largest room, has a particularly decorative mosaic floor with floral and geometric patterns within several concentric square bands. You can also find customer support email or phone in the next page and ask more details about availability of this book.

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