Masada

Masada. If you look close, you can see the zigzag trail I hike up (1,300 elevation change). It's called the Snake Path. Getting ready to start the hike (turns out doing this hungover is not so smart). Trailhead.
Cable car... cheating bastards. Looking back down at the visitors center. Looking out at the Dead Sea.
The trail. That square in the bottom center of the picture is the remains of a Roman fort. The ruins at the top.
Herod the Great built the fortifications on Masada. During the First Jewish-Roman War, Sicarii rebels defeated the Romans garrisoned on Masada and turned it into a base. In 70 A.D., around the time the Second Temple was destroyed and Jews were escaping Jerusalem, more Sicarii came to Masada. Remnants of a pained fresco.
In 72 A.D., the Tenth Legion under Lucius Flavius Silva marched on Masada. The Romans built a series of forts and settled in for a siege. Decorative columns. The remains of another Roman fort built during the siege.
Standing on the lower terrace. During the siege, the Romans built a siege tower and a ramp to lead up the fortress walls. Looking out over the top of Masada.
All that remains of the structures on top of Masada. The layout of the main Roman camp. Guy chillin' on the bench with a rifle.
The siege ramp that was built up to the walls. Wall construction. Looking out on the siege ramp.
Artist rendering of the ramp and siege tower. Field of fire for a defender. Area near where the breakthrough would have occurred.
Masada Columbarium. Each nice would hold an urn with ashes of the dead. Looking out over the cliff edge. Floor mosaic.
When the Sicarii were certain the Romans were going to breech the walls the next day, 960 of them committed mass suiced rather than become slaves. Since Judaism frowns upon suicide, the story says they drew lots and killed each other, so only one person had to committ suicide. Two women and five kids hid inside a water cistern and were the only survivors. The Israel Defense Forces hold their basic training graduation here. The graduates climb the snake path at night and are sworn in by torchlight.
The natural defenses of Masada. Driving along the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea Scrolls were found somewhere up in that area.
The land outside Jerusalem. This is the type of terrain the Crusaders were crossing and fighting on. Little water, little vegetation. No surprise the Crusaders primarily stuck the coast around Acre, Tyre, Tripoli, Jaffa.

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