Years of Excavations at the “Masada of the North” Yield Results

The mountaintop fortress town of Gamla fell to the Romans in 67 CE after a protracted battle, earning it comparisons to Masada, which was destroyed a few years later. Because the town remained uninhabited thereafter, it has been a uniquely valuable source for archaeologists—a fact not lost on Shmarya Guttman, who led extensive excavations there during the 20th century. Danny Syon, who supervised the publication of a three-volume report on Guttman’s findings, explains their significance. (Pictures are included at the link below.)

Gamla [was] one of very few sites described in detail by the contemporaneous historian Flavius Josephus in connection with the First Jewish Revolt (66–73 CE). . . . Extensive excavations have yielded vast amounts of information related to the war against the Romans that enable the resurrection of life in a Jewish town of the period. . . . Gutmann was drawn to Gamla because he considered it the “missing link” in the archaeology of the First Jewish Revolt. . . .

Gamla is a located on a camel-hump-shaped hill—hence its name, from the Semitic word for camel—in the lower Golan Heights. It was inhabited during the early Bronze Age. Protected on three sides by steep ravines, the site was defended on the east by an immense wall. The site was not settled again until the Hellenistic period. The Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus annexed Gamla to his state in 81 BCE, and in 66 CE Flavius Josephus—commander of Jewish forces in the Galilee—fortified the site against the Romans.

Josephus, probably an eyewitness, described in painful detai the siege of Gamla by three Roman legions; after one unsuccessful attack, a second succeeded, in which the Jewish defenders were eventually slaughtered along with thousands of women and children, many of whom perished in an attempt to flee down the steep northern slope.

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Read more at ASOR

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, History & Ideas, Josephus, Judean Revolt, Masada

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