Saturday, February 09, 2008

Metzada 2: The Siege

Continued from a previous post:

Metzada 1: To the Top

Looking out onto the Dead Sea from Metzada. These canals carry brine from the northern section of the Dead Sea to the southern, where the water is evaporated to extract valuable Potash by the Dead Sea Works.

Looking towards the enormous evaporation ponds.

Our tour guide's father was involved in local excavations. Often the local Bedouin would loot archaeological sites before they could be excavated. They would then sell the items they found back to collectors, or archaeologists. Her father was able to buy back some coins, most of which he gave to the Israel Antiquities Authority, per the law. But they let him keep a few.

A coin minted during the Bar Kochba Revolt.
Rebuilt storehouses.
Another local resident.

With the benefit of elevation, the Jewish rebels were able to prevent the entire Roman Legion from ascending the steep path. The Romans changed strategy and began building a ramp to penetrate the fortress' defenses.

The Roman ramp up the west side of Metzada.

Eventually, after three years of siege, the Romans reached the top. The night before the breach of the wall, the rebels knew the game was up. They drew lots and committed mass suicide rather than be taken prisoner. To this day, the site is seen as a symbol of resistance, and the last bastion of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel until modern times.

Moshe Dayan, when he was Army Chief of Staff, understood the symbolism of Metzada, and, upon their completion of basic training, he had IDF units to ascend the snake path by night to take the Oath of Allegiance, with soldiers swearing upon induction that, "Metzada shall not fall again!"

The flag on Metada.

Well, the hike down is going to be a cinch. After all, it's all downhill from here.

Now I have to go all that way back down.

Back at the bottom. Bet your [] I climbed that mountain!

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