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Study Finds Romans Lacked Local Timber for Masada Siege

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A new study conducted by Haifa University researchers has found that the wood used to support the Roman siege of Masada in 73 C.E. likely had to be brought from areas far away. The study, which looked at the use of timber resources in the Masada region from the second century B.C.E. until the citadel’s fall in the year 73, found that the surrounding valleys and hills would have been almost completely barren when the Romans arrived, the local trees having already been heavily exploited for centuries for everyday use in construction, cooking and heating. As such, the Romans, as well as Masada’s defenders, would have had to import timber from more humid regions of Judea.

Study Finds Romans Lacked Local Timber for Masada Siege

A new study conducted by Haifa University researchers has found that the wood used to support the Roman siege of Masada in 73 C.E. likely had to be brought from areas far away. 


The Romans also laid siege to the fortress at Machaerus, the infamous site where John the Baptist was beheaded. Read the free Bible History Daily feature “Machaerus: Beyond the Beheading of John the Baptist,” featuring BHD-exclusive color reconstructions of the site, or read Győző Vörös’s full article “Machaerus: Where Salome Danced and John the Baptist Was Beheaded” in the BAS Library as it appeared in Biblical Archaeology Review, September/October 2012.


Herod’s desert fortress on the mountaintop of Masada was made famous as the site of the last stand between the besieged Jewish rebels and the relentlessly advancing Romans at the conclusion of the First Jewish Revolt. In the free ebook Masada: The Dead Sea’s Desert Fortress, discover what archaeology reveals about the defenders’ identity, fortifications and arms before their ultimate sacrifice.

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