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Noble deaths at Gamla and Masada? A critical assessment of Josephus’ accounts of jewish resistance in light of archaeological discoveries

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Chapter Summary

Archaeology reveals that Jews at Masada and Gamla were besieged by Roman troops during the mid-first century C.E. If we only had archaeology, what would we conclude about these two sieges? Does archaeology have anything to tell us about what actually took place during these two battles? For students of the First Revolt, the central question is whether the archaeological evidence supports Josephus' accounts of noble death at Masada and Gamla? This chapter looks into this issue by first summarizing Josephus' accounts of each battle before reviewing the results of the archaeological excavations. It focuses on what archaeology alone tells us about the sieges of Masada and Gamla. The chapter then compares this evidence with Josephus' War to see if the material culture derived from archaeology supports his narrative. Finally, some comments on Josephus' use of noble death as a theme in the War are provided.

Keywords: archaeological discoveries; First Revolt; Gamla; Jewish resistance; Josephus' War; Masada; noble deaths



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