geographical name \mə-ˈsä-də\

Definition of MASADA

fortress town of ancient Palestine; site in SE Israel W of Dead Sea


   (Concise Encyclopedia)

Ancient mountain fortress, southeastern Israel. It occupies the entire top of a mesa that is 1,424 ft (434 m) tall and has an area of about 18 acres (7 hectares). It is best known for the fortifications built by Herod the Great in the 1st century BC; it was captured by the Zealots, a Jewish sect, in their revolt against Rome in AD 66. After the fall of Jerusalem, Masada, the last remnant of Jewish rule in Palestine, refused to surrender. In 73, after a lengthy siege, it was finally taken by the Romans, who found that nearly all of the some 1,000 Zealots there had committed suicide rather than be captured. In the 20th century the fortress became a symbol of Jewish national heroism; now one of Israel's most visited tourist attractions, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001.


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