Excavating in Israel isn’t all work and no play though.
On the weekends we pack a small bag and head off to explore some of the other amazing sites throughout the country. This weekend was our south trip, Stop 1 was Tel Arad.
It’s a fortified city with some really great foundations and structural remains – it gives you a good glimpse at the layout of a bustling Canaanite city. There are residential houses, a palace and temple remains to explore.
Afterwards, it was off to Masada. Oh Masada, how I both love and loathe you. Interesting, well-preserved site but seriously, let’s pick the biggest, highest rock, closest to the sun to build on. It is always so bloody hot there. Built by
Herod, it is a palatial fortress and is known as the last stand of Jewish freedom fighters against the Romans, the fall of which signaled the end of the Second Temple period. They also have all these great dioramas on site that make me feel like Godzilla.
But back to the Jewish last stand, it’s an interesting moment frozen in time – you can see the outlines of the Roman camps surrounding the base of the mountain,
and climb up the remains of the siege ramp (I recommend this method in the early morning since it is in the shade!). Supposedly, when things looked beyond hopeless, the remaining Jews killed their families and then drew lots for who would kill the remaining few and then suicide rather than be captured by the Romans. That is some commitment! Although really, the heat up there could drive anyone to such extremes.