PALACE OF THE JEWISH ROYAL FAMILY
This image is an architectural model of Masada - the Northern Palace:
The model shows Masada in its setting - standing on a narrow plateau, with three platforms opening onto a view as spectacular as any in the Roman world.
It looked north up the Rift valley, east to the Dead Sea and west to the wilderness.
This elegant, intimate, private palace-villa dripped with luxury. It was separated from the Masada fortress by a wall, affording total privacy.
There was a narrow, rock-cut staircase connecting the three levels. On the upper terrace were living quarters. In front of them was a semi-circular balcony with two concentric rows of columns. The rooms were paved with black and white mosaics in geometric patterns.
The two lower terraces were intended for entertainment and relaxation. They were like little jewel-box buildings.
The middle terrace had two concentric walls with columns, covered by a roof. This created a portico around a central courtyard. It may have been a small private bathhouse.
The lowest, square terrace had an open central courtyard, surrounded by porticoes. Its columns were covered with fluted plaster and had Corinthian capitals. The lower parts of the walls had frescoes of multicolored geometrical patterns, or were painted in imitation of marble.
THE LARGE BATHHOUSE
In another part of the palace was
The largest of the rooms was the hot room (caldarium).
Its suspended floor was supported by rows of low pillars, making it possible to channel hot air from the furnace outside, under the floor, then through clay pipes along the walls.
This heated the room to the desired temperature - it caught the cool breeze from the sea in summer, but was warm in winter too.
THE WESTERN PALACE
The Western Palace is the largest building on Masada, covering over 4,000 square meters. Located along the center of the western casemate wall, it served as Herod's official residence.
It consisted of four wings:
In the royal apartment, many of the rooms were built around a central courtyard.
On the southern side of the courtyard was a large room, possibly a reception room or audience chamber. The entrance was wide, flanked by two columns supporting the roof. Its walls were decorated with moulded panels of white stucco.
On the eastern side were several rooms with splendid colored mosaic floors. One of these, the largest room, had a particularly decorative mosaic floor with floral and geometric patterns within several concentric square bands (see below).
This room may have been King Herod's throne room, the seat of authority when he was in residence at Masada.
Things changed after he died. Masada was not used very often by subsequent rulers.
Eventually, during the Jewish Revolt, the Roman Army came to Masada.
Go to 'THE ZEALOTS' LAST STAND' to see what happened...
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