Fortress Masada, West Terace
Masada (Hebrew for "Fortress") are the ancient ruins on a mountaintop in the Judean Desert. Located about 30 miles southeast of Jerusalem and rising above the shores of the Dead Sea, Masada is the most visited of all archeological sites in Israel and one of the most popular climbs. This fortress can be reached in several ways... from the east via the original and steep "snake path," from the west on a path built from the old Roman ramp, offering an easier climb or by cable car.
After the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70 CE by the conquering Roman army, 1,000 Jewish zealot resistors and their families fled Jerusalem and took over this remote mountaintop. Under their leader, Eleazar ben Jair, they withstood a 2-year siege by the Roman Tenth Legion.
Then, in 73 CE, the Roman governor Flavius Silva marched against Masada with the Roman Tenth Legion. They established camps at the base of Masada, laid siege to it. Later they constructed a rampart of thousands of tons of stones and beaten earth against the western approaches of the fortress [see left portion of photo] and, in the spring of the year 74 CE, moved a battering ram up this ramp and breached the wall of the fortress
When the Zealot leader, Elazar ben Yair, saw the end nearing, he gathered his people and together they chose death with honor by their own hands rather than being captured alive and becoming slaves to the Romans.
Today, Masada has become a symbol for freedom and independence. Recruits to the Israel Defense Forces Armored Unit swear the oath of allegiance in an annual ceremony on its summit. Their defiant cry...Masada will never fall again!
Herod the Great developed Masada as a mountain fortress, where he could flee to in time of danger. He...
צילום: מורדגן הפקות
Modern civilization began right here in the Tigris-Euphrates river valley. Also known as the Fertile Crescent or Mesopotamia, this is the place where, six thousand years ago, agriculture, writing and mathematics were brought into widespread use.
The term "Middle East" comes from the British navy, which used it to describe the countries on the trade route from Europe to India and China. Everything from Afghanistan to Morocco may possibly be classified as "middle eastern", depending on whom you ask -- and when.
Only a partial list of past Empires in the middle eastern territory includes Sumeria, Babylonia, Persia, the Ottoman Empire and the Roman Empire!
When northern Europe was still lurking about in slimy cold stone castles playing chess, the Middle East was enjoying the flowers of poetry, luxurious craftsmanship, music and literature. In fact, the Renaissance in Europe was partly inspired by stories brought back from the middle east by travelers along the trade route.
Strategic location, religious history and the world's largest supply of crude oil have kept the Middle East at the center of world activity for centuries. The saga continues.
Text by Steve Smith.