Preliminary results from the new excavations at Masada have been released, with “tremendous amounts” of new finds illuminating the famous Roman siege. Here are some excerpts:
“We’re actually excavating a refugee camp,” said Guy Stiebel, the archaeologist leading excavations carried out earlier this year by Tel Aviv University. Masada’s inhabitants during the seven years of the revolt were “a sort of microcosm of Judaea back then,” comprised of refugees from Jerusalem and across Judaea, including priests, members of the enigmatic monastic group from Qumran that wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls, and at least one Samaritan.
… “We have the opportunity to truly see the people, and this is very rare for an archaeologist,” he said. Among them are women and children, who are too often underrepresented in the archaeological record. Through archaeology, the study of the material culture found on Masada, architecture and a restudying of Josephus, he and his team can even pick out where different groups originated from before coming to Masada.
“We know people by name, we know people by profession. We can learn about the way this group of rebels lived,” he said.
Stiebel was loath to disclose too many particulars about his team’s finds until they could be published in a scientific journal. He divulged, however, that he and his team have managed to extract “tremendous amounts of data” from the newly excavated areas of the site…
Excavating at Masada not only sheds light on its inhabitants, but on the people who lived in Jerusalem and Judea in the nascent years of Christianity, and the twilight of Jewish independence.
Masada is famous for Josephus’ account of the battle between the besieging Romans and the Jews atop this Dead Sea fortress. Josephus writes that the Jews committed mass suicide rather than surrender to the assaulting Tenth Legion. Scholars debate whether the Jews actually killed themselves, but the impressive remains on the summit and the complete Roman siege works preserved below indicate a compelling battle.
Read the full article here. I have previously written about the beginning of this new excavation. We will leave it to Dr. Stiebel and the staff to identify structures and finds in later reports. Their next excavation season is scheduled for February, 2018.
Read one of my previous posts with general information on Masada here.
I had the pleasure of working under Guy Stiebel during my first excavation season at Khirbet Qeiyafa back in 2009.
HT: Joe Lauer