Ancient leather and papyrus scrolls first discovered in 1947 in caves on the NW shore of the Dead Sea.
Excavations at Qumran have revealed the remains of a Jewish sect known as Essenes, whose library, secreted in caves, survived the destruction of the settlement in c.A.D. 68. Most of the documents were written or copied between the 1st cent. B.C. and the first half of the 1st cent. A.D. Three types of documents have been found in the Qumran caves: copies of books of the Hebrew Bible, e.g., Isaiah, of which two almost complete scrolls have been found; copies of books now collected in the Old Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, e.g., Tobit, 1 Enoch, Jubilees; and documents composed by Qumran Essenes, e.g., a book of community rules called The Manual of Discipline, an allegorical account of the community called The War of the Sons of Light with the Sons of Darkness, a group of devotional poems called The Thanksgiving Psalms, a commentary on the Book of Habakkuk, and an extensive work, known as the Temple Scroll, containing ritual law. Documents from the third group express the distinctive theology of the Qumran Essenes, who came into existence in the mid-2d cent. B.C. Startling parallels in expression and thought between the Qumran materials and the New Testament have led to speculation as to the Essene influence on Christianity.... -[Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, Copyright (c) 2000]-
Masada, ancient mountaintop fortress in Israel, the final outpost of the Zealot Jews in their rebellion against Roman authority (A.D. 66-73). Located in the Judaean Desert, the fortress sits atop a mesa-shaped rock that towers some 1,300 ft (400 m) above the western shore of the Dead Sea. According to the ancient historian Josephus, Masada was first fortified sometime during the 1st or 2d cent. B.C. Between 37 and 31 B.C. Herod the Great, king of Judaea, further strengthened Masada, building two ornate palaces, a bathhouse, aqueducts, and surrounding siege walls. In A.D. 66, with the outbreak of the Jewish war against Rome, the Zealots, an extremist Jewish sect, seized the fortress in a surprise attack and massacred its Roman garrison. Masada remained under Zealot control until A.D. 73, when, after a siege, the 15,000 soldiers of Rome's tenth legion finally subdued the 1,000 men, women, and children holding the fortress. In a final act of defiance, however, almost all of the Jewish defenders had killed themselves rather than be captured and enslaved by the Romans. Only two women and five children survived to tell of the Zealots' last action.
-[Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, Copyright (c) 2000]-
Zealots, Jewish faction traced back to the revolt of the Maccabees (2d cent. B.C.). The name was first recorded by the Jewish historian Josephus as a designation for the Jewish resistance fighters of the war of A.D. 66-73. This term applied to them because of their fervent veneration of the Torah and detestation of non-Jews and Jews lacking in religious fervor. The Zealots were organized as a party during the reign (37 B.C.-4 B.C.) of Herod the Great, whose idolatrous practices they resisted. Later (c.A.D. 6), when Cyrenius, the Roman governor of Syria, attempted to take a census, the Zealots, under Judas of Galilee and the priest Zadok, arose in revolt against what they considered a plot to subjugate the Jews. Thereafter the Zealots expressed their opposition by sporadic revolts and by violence against Jews who conformed to Roman ways.
-[Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, Copyright (c) 2000]-
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... (1) from the east via the original and steep "snake path," (2) from the west on a path built from the old Roman ramp, offering an easier climb or (3) by cable car.
The following excerpt is from Masada.org's home page;
"There has never been a civilization or a nation referred to as "Palestine" and the very notion of a "Palestinian Arab nation" having ancient attachments to the Holy Land going back to time immemorial is one of the biggest hoaxes ever perpetrated upon the world! There is not, nor has there ever been, a distinct "Palestinian" culture or language. Further, there has never been a Palestinian state governed BY Arab Palestinians in history, nor was there ever a serious Arab-Palestinian national movement until 1964... three years BEFORE the Arabs of "Palestine" lost the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] and Gaza as a result of the 1967 Six-Day War (which the Arabs started). Even the so-called leader of the "Palestinian" people, Yasser Arafat, is EGYPTIAN! In short, the so-called Arab "Palestinians" are a manufactured people...a people with no history and no authenticity..."
This page includes photos and GEOGRAPHIC DESCRIPTION, HISTORY, ARCHAEOLOGY IN MASADA, GETTING THERE and RELATED LINKS. Below is an excerpt from the Archaeology in Masada section;
"The first Israeli surveys of Masada were done in 1955-56. In 1963-65 Yigael Yadin conducted a full-scale excavation of the site, with assistance of hundreds of volunteers from Israel and abroad. They uncovered almost all the territory, and also restored many buildings..."
Some scholars maintain that Josephus' account of the tragedy at Masada is contradicted by archaeological evidence. Read the conclusions from Shaye Cohen's article "Masada: Literary Tradition, Archaeological Remains, and the Credibility of Josephus"
Photo and Map - "Masada http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/History/masadatoc.html (Hebrew for fortress), is situated atop an isolated rock cliff at the western end of the Judean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea. It is a place of gaunt and majestic beauty."
"On the east the rock falls in a sheer drop of about 450 meters to the Dead Sea (the lowest point on earth, some 400 m. below sea level) and in the west it stands about 100 meters above the surrounding terrain. The natural approaches to the cliff top are very difficult." -[© 2002 The American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise]-
"This synagogue was found in the first season of Yadins excavations. No Second Temple period synagogues were known at the time."
"Many coins from the Jewish Revolt were found here. An ostracon was found on the floor with inscription, priestly tithe."
"Masada, "the fortress", located in the Judean Desert is a single standing plateau with rough, steep cliffs on all four sides overlooking the Dead Sea. Masada is best known as the place where 960 Jewish zealots held off (for some time) the Tenth Roman Legion that tried to conquer them, but eventually committed mass suicide to avoid capture."
"The tragic events during the last days of the Jewish refugees who occupied the fortress and palace of Masada make it a symbol both of Jewish cultural identity and, more universally, of the continuing human struggle between oppression and liberty."
Masada is a rugged natural fortress, of majestic beauty, in the Judaean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. It is a symbol of the ancient kingdom of Israel, its violent destruction and the last stand of Jewish patriots in the face of the Roman army, in 73 A.D. It was built as a palace complex, in the classic style of the early Roman Empire, by Herod the Great, King of Judaea, (reigned 37 4 B.C.). The camps, fortifications and attack ramp that encircle the monument constitute the most complete Roman siege works surviving to the present day.