Welcome Friends! I hope you enjoy tasting these teaching and travel tidbits.
Come along with me as I attempt to navigate my way through a new country, school system, and life for a year!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Masada and the Dead Sea

T.V. mini-series became popular in my late teens and early 20s, and I remember loving them and waiting for the weekly installments:  Roots,  Rich Man/Poor Man, The Thorn Birds, and last but not least, Masada.  The dramatic story of the band of Jewish rebels who resisted Roman invasion from 66-72 CE  on a huge rock in the middle of the desert was very appealing to me, so I decided to take a day trip to visit the site.  Since pretty much everything I knew about this landmark was gleaned from the Peter Strauss and Peter O'Toole's portrayals, I had a lot to learn.  First of all, I didn't know that Masada had been built on this naturally fortified plateau by Herod the Great between 37 and 31 BCE.  Herod was rather a paranoid person, and built lots of palaces that he could escape to in case of invasion from Egypt.  Herod filled  huge storerooms with food and built an elaborate water system including  several water cisterns filled to the brim just in case he needed to hold out there for a long period of time.  He didn't end up needing these, but they served the Zealots well, as these stored provisions were how they survived as long as they did on Masada.
It was a long ride out to Masada!!
(well, I didn't really ride the camel ALL the way!)


Remains of buildings on Masada

Herod's storage rooms that were filled with food

The people of  Masada kept doves here as a source of fertilizer and meat.

 Of course, if you've seen the movie, you know that when it became evident that the Romans would breach the wall and take the fortress, the Jewish rebels decided that it was better to die than to be taken as slaves, so almost 1000 people committed mass suicide here.  Only 2 women and 5 children survived, hiding in a cistern, and from these people Josephus learned of the story and wrote the history.
View from Masada:  you can see the ramp the Romans built
to take siege of the rebels here.
The accounts of the historian, Josephus, say that the men of
Masada had their names written of pieces of pottery and they
 drew lots to see who would kill the others and at last, kill themselves.
Finding these pottery shards with names written on them here at
Masada was an incredible discovery, confirming the story.

A victory? What have we won? We've won a rock in the middle of a wasteland, on the shores of a poisoned sea."

Well, after a rather sobering morning on Masada, it was time to beat the heat and take a trip to that poisoned sea, the beautiful, but lifeless, Dead Sea.  

The proper process here is to smear yourself with
mud from the sea........

......then go for a float.  You really don't have to try to float at all,
just tip back and enjoy. You can even float standing
straight up, with your arms above your head, which I did.  To move about,
I just kind of pedaled my legs as if I were riding a unicycle.
A fun way to end the day!


  1. Greetings Cindy. Your travels so far have looked absolutely AMAZING!!! As for Masada, there is a current best seller making the rounds of book clubs "The Dovekeepers", by Alice Hoffman. It tells the story of the Masada massacre through the eyes of several women. You should be sure to check it out. Erika

  2. Hi Erika,
    Linda thought our book club read it, but I don't remember that, so perhaps it was her other book club. Maybe we could read it next year when I'm back. I joined an online book club here with some of the other Fulbrighters, but haven't had a chance to start the book for this month yet. Teaching here is very, very demanding, so instead of reading in bed at night, I'm usually trying to complete the extremely detailed lesson plan formats. Miss you all, cindy


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