After Ten Years, Excavations Resume at Masada

The ancient Negev fortress where, in 74 CE, Jewish rebels fought their last stand against the Romans, yielded many important discoveries in the 20th century. Now archaeologists plan to begin digging there once more. Ilan Ben Zion writes:

[A] substantial portion of the mountaintop’s historical material, [as well as] the former Roman army encampments ringing the fortress peak, remains largely unstudied. After the first large-scale excavations in 1963-65 under the former IDF chief of staff and archaeologist Yigael Yadin, archaeologists refrained from digging up the entire site for the sake of leaving some exploration for the generations to come. The dry desert climate allowed the preservation of elegant frescoes and organic remains belonging to the Jewish rebels who holed up on the mountaintop. . . .

[The] team said the plans for its first season at Masada will involve the excavation of new sections of the Jewish rebel dwellings, as well as a garden constructed by Herod. “Our intention is to explore further a mysterious underground structure that was detected in the earliest aerial photographs of the site” in 1924, said Guy Stiebel, [the archaeologist leading the project].

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Archaeology, History & Ideas, Judean Revolt, Masada, Yigael Yadin

Don’t Let Iran Go Nuclear

Sept. 29 2022

In an interview on Sunday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the Biden administration remains committed to nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic, even as it pursues its brutal crackdown on the protests that have swept the country. Robert Satloff argues not only that it is foolish to pursue the renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal, but also that the White House’s current approach is failing on its own terms:

[The] nuclear threat is much worse today than it was when President Biden took office. Oddly, Washington hasn’t really done much about it. On the diplomatic front, the administration has sweetened its offer to entice Iran into a new nuclear deal. While it quite rightly held firm on Iran’s demand to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from an official list of “foreign terrorist organizations,” Washington has given ground on many other items.

On the nuclear side of the agreement, the United States has purportedly agreed to allow Iran to keep, in storage, thousands of advanced centrifuges it has made contrary to the terms of the original deal. . . . And on economic matters, the new deal purportedly gives Iran immediate access to a certain amount of blocked assets, before it even exports most of its massive stockpile of enriched uranium for safekeeping in a third country. . . . Even with these added incentives, Iran is still holding out on an agreement. Indeed, according to the most recent reports, Tehran has actually hardened its position.

Regardless of the exact reason why, the menacing reality is that Iran’s nuclear program is galloping ahead—and the United States is doing very little about it. . . . The result has been a stunning passivity in U.S. policy toward the Iran nuclear issue.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy