Masada is a rugged natural fortress of majestic beauty. It is also called as Hebrew H̱orvot Meẕada (“Ruins of Masada”). It is located in the Judaean Desert of Israel and is a symbol of the ancient kingdom of Israel. Also, this place resembles the last stand of Jewish patriots in the face of the Roman army in 73 A.D. The camps, fortifications and attack ramp that encircle the monument constitute a complete Roman siege works surviving to the present day. It is an archaeological site carrying great importance in the history.
Masada was built as a palace complex, in the classic style of the early Roman Empire. It was built by Herod the Great, King of Judaea, (reigned 37 – 4 B.C.).He made it a royal citadel.The site was first fortified either by Jonathan Maccabeus (d. 143/142 BCE) or by Alexander Jannaeus (reigned 103–76 BCE) during Hasmonean dynasty. Romans took over the Masada after Herod’s death. But, Romans were fooled by Zealots and thus, losing the place to Zealots.Masada was briefly reoccupied by the Jews in the 2nd century CE. It became the site of a Byzantine church during 5th–6th century. But after that, it was abandoned until the 20th century. The site remained untouched for around thirteen centuries.
The initial construction included two ornate palaces (one of them on three levels), heavy walls and defensive towers. There were aqueducts that brought water to cisterns holding nearly 200,000 gallons (750,000 litres). Masada was made virtually unassailable fortress by the help of steep slopes of the mountain. Masada’s unequalled defensive site baffled even the Romans’ highly developed siege craft for a time. But almost after two years, Romans were able to subdue the fortress.
The remains of Herod’s palaces are still found there and very intact examples of this type of architecture. The untouched siegeworks are reportedly the finest and most complete anywhere in the Roman world. The magnificent wild scenery of this region has not changed over many millennia. The buildings and other evidence of human settlement gradually collapsed and were covered over. But they were revealed in the 1960s.
In order to maintain the authenticity of the place, there have been no additions or reconstruction. Authorities are also replacing the inappropriate materials used in early conservation projects. Limited restoration works have been carried out to aid visitor interpretation with original archaeological. Certain significant archaeological elements, such as the Roman camps and siegeworks are maintained as it were original. Thus, this has assisted the place in maintaining high level of authenticity. Masada is a symbol of Jewish heroism and has become an attraction point for tourists.
Masada became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. The Judean desert due to its unfavorable environment is still sparsely settled area. Any form of commercial activities is prohibited on the summit. Masada is managed by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, in cooperation with the Israel Antiquities Authority. 1978 Antiquities Law sets rule for the protection of the site.