Demotic is the ancient Egyptian script derived from northern forms of hieratic used in the Nile Delta, the stage of the Egyptian language written in this script, following Late Egyptian and preceding Coptic. The term was first used by the Greek historian Herodotus to distinguish it from hieratic and hieroglyphic scripts. By convention, the word "Demotic" is capitalized; the Demotic script was referred to by the Egyptians as sš n šꜥ.t "document writing", which the second-century scholar Clement of Alexandria called ἐπιστολογραφική "letter-writing", while early Western scholars, notably Thomas Young referred to it as "Enchorial Egyptian". The script was used for more than a thousand years, during that time a number of developmental stages occurred, it is written and read from right to left, while earlier hieroglyphs could be written from top to bottom, left to right, or right to left. Parts of the demotic Greek Magical Papyri were written with a cypher script. Early Demotic developed in Lower Egypt during the part of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty found on steles from the Serapeum at Saqqara.
It is dated between 650 and 400 BCE, as most texts written in Early Demotic are dated to the Twenty-sixth Dynasty and the subsequent rule as a satrapy of the Achaemenid Empire, known as the Twenty-seventh Dynasty. After the reunification of Egypt under Psamtik I, Demotic replaced Abnormal Hieratic in Upper Egypt during the reign of Amasis II, when it became the official administrative and legal script. During this period, Demotic was used only for administrative and commercial texts, while hieroglyphs and hieratic were reserved for religious texts and literature. Middle Demotic is the stage of writing used during the Ptolemaic Kingdom. From the 4th century BC onwards, Demotic held a higher status, as may be seen from its increasing use for literary and religious texts. By the end of the 3rd century BC, Koine Greek was more important, as it was the administrative language of the country. From the beginning of Roman rule of Egypt, Demotic was progressively less used in public life. There are, however, a number of literary texts written in Late Demotic from the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, though the quantity of all Demotic texts decreased towards the end of the second century.
In contrast to the way Latin eliminated minority languages in the western part of the Empire and the expansion of Koine Greek led to the extinction of Egyptian, it did not replace Demotic entirely. After that, Demotic was only used for a few ostraca, subscriptions to Greek texts, mummy labels, graffiti; the last dated example of the Demotic script is dated to December 11, 452 and consists of a graffito on the walls of the temple of Isis at Philae. Demotic is a development of the Late Egyptian language and shares much with the Coptic phase of the Egyptian language. In the earlier stages of Demotic, such as those texts written in the Early Demotic script, it represented the spoken idiom of the time. But, as it was used for only literary and religious purposes, the written language diverged more and more from the spoken form, leading to significant diglossia between the Late Demotic texts and the spoken language of the time, similar to the use of classical Middle Egyptian during the Ptolemaic Period.
The Rosetta Stone was discovered in 1799. It is inscribed with three scripts: the Greek alphabet and Egyptian hieroglyphs. There are 32 lines of Demotic, the middle of the three scripts on the stone; the Demotic was deciphered before the hieroglyphs, starting with the efforts of Antoine Isaac Silvestre de Sacy. Scholars were able to translate the hieroglyphs by comparing the Greek words, which could be translated, the hieroglyphs, in addition to their existing knowledge of Coptic. Egyptologists and papyrologists who specialize in the study of the Demotic stage of Egyptian script are known as Demotists; the table below shows some derivative similarities from hieroglyphs to Demotic to the surviving Coptic alphabet. Transliteration of Ancient Egyptian Tale of Setne Khamwas and Si-Osire Betrò, Maria Carmela. Hieroglyphics: The Writings of Ancient Egypt. New York. Pp. 34–239. ISBN 978-0-7892-0232-1. Johnson, Janet H.. Thus Wrote'Onchsheshonqy: An Introductory Grammar of Demotic. Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization, No. 45.
Chicago: The Oriental Institute. Demotic and Abnormal Hieratic Texts List of all Demotic texts in Trismegistos Chicago Demotic Dictionary The American Society of Papyrologists Directory of Institutions and Scholars Involved in Demotic Studies Demotic Texts on the Internet Thus Wrote'Onchsheshonqy: An Introductory Grammar of Demotic by Janet H. Johnson Demotische Grammatik by Wilhelm Spiegelberg
Khirbet Qeiyafa is the site of an ancient fortress city overlooking the Elah Valley and dated to the first half of the 10th century BCE. The ruins of the fortress were uncovered in 2007, near the Israeli city of Beit Shemesh, 30 km from Jerusalem, it covers nearly 2.5 ha and is encircled by a 700-meter-long city wall constructed of stones weighing up to eight tons each. Excavations at site continued in subsequent years. A number of archaeologists Yosef Garfinkel and Saar Ganor, have claimed that it might be the biblical city of Sha'arayim, because of the two gates discovered on the site, or Neta'im and that the large building at the center is an administrative building dating to the reign of King David, where he might have lodged at some point; this is based on their conclusions that the site ca. 1025–975 BCE, a range which includes the biblical date for the Kingdom of David. Others are sceptical, suggest it might represent either a North Israelite, Philistine or Canaanite fortress; the techniques and interpretations used to reach the conclusion that Khirbet Qeiyafa was a fortress of King David have been criticised.
This is Iron Age II for most findings The top layer of the fortress shows that the fortifications were renewed in the Hellenistic period. In the Byzantine period, a luxurious land villa was built on top of the Iron Age II palace and cut the older structure in two; the meaning of the Arabic name of the site, Khirbet Qeiyafa, is uncertain. Scholars suggest it may mean "the place with a wide view." In 1881, Palmer thought that Kh. Kîâfa meant "the ruin of tracking foot-steps"; the modern Hebrew name, מבצר האלה, or the Elah Fortress was suggested by Foundation Stone directors David Willner and Barnea Levi Selavan at a meeting with Garfinkel and Ganor in early 2008. Garfinkel accepted the idea and excavation t-shirts with that name were produced for the 2008 and 2009 seasons; the name derives from the location of the site on the northern bank of Nahal Elah, one of six brooks that flow from the Judean mountains to the coastal plain. The Elah Fortress lies just inside a north-south ridge of hills separating Philistia and Gath to the west from Judea to the east.
The ridge includes the site identified as Tel Azekah. Past this ridge is a series of connecting valleys between two parallel groups of hills. Tel Sokho lies on the southern ridge with Tel Adullam behind it; the Elah Fortress is situated on the northern ridge, overlooking several valleys with a clear view of the Judean Mountains. Behind it to the northeast is Tel Yarmut. From the topography, archaeologists believe this was the location of the cities of Adullam, Sokho and Yarmut cited in Joshua 15:35; these valleys formed the border between Judea. The site of Khirbet Qeiyafa was surveyed in the 1860s by Victor Guérin who reported the presence of a village on the hilltop. In 1875, British surveyors noted only stone heaps at Kh. Kiafa. In 1932, Dimitri Baramki, reported the site to hold a 35 square metres watchtower associated with Khirbet Quleidiya, 200 metres east; the site was neglected in the 20th century and not mentioned by leading scholars. Yehuda Dagan documented the visible remains; the site raised curiosity in 2005 when Saar Ganor discovered impressive Iron Age structures under the remnants.
Excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa began in 2007, directed by Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew University and Saar Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority, continued in 2008. Nearly 600 square metres of an Iron Age IIA city were unearthed. Based on pottery styles and two burned olive pits tested for carbon-14 at Oxford University and Ganor have dated the site to 1050–970 BCE, although Israel Finkelstein contends evidence points to habitation between 1050 and 915 BCE; the initial excavation by Ganor and Garfinkel took place from August 12 to 26, 2007 on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Institute of Archaeology. In their preliminary report at the annual ASOR conference on November 15, they presented a theory that the site was the Biblical Azekah, which until had been associated with Tell Zakariya. In Sept. of 2008, Joseph Silver, the chief funder of the excavation, while walking around the exterior of the city wall in the SE part with Garfinkel and Ganor, identified features in the city wall similar to the features found by Garfinkel and Ganor in the western gate, stated that it was a second gate.
In November, with volunteers from the Bnai Akiva youth organization, the area was cleared and an excavation organized by Garfinkel and Ganor confirmed the architecture of the second gate. The identification provides a solid basis for identifying the site as biblical Sha'arayim. In 2015 a plan to build a neighborhood on the site was cancelled, to enable the archaeological dig to go forward. Discoveries at Khirbet Qeiyafa are significant to the debate on archaeological evidence and historicity of the biblical account of the United Monarchy at the beginning of Iron Age II. Garfinkel said in 2010 that the Qeiyafa excavations support the idea "that the kingdom of Judah existed as a centrally organized state in the tenth century BCE". Nadav Na’aman and Ido Koch held that the ruins were Canaanite, based on strong similarities with the nearby Canaanite excavations at Beit Shemesh. Finkelstein and Alexander Fantalkin, maintained that the site shows affiliations with a North Israelite entity. In 2015 Finkelstein and Piasetsky criticised the previous statistical treatment of radio-carbon dating at Khirbet Qeiyafa and als
Limestone is a carbonate sedimentary rock, composed of the skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral and molluscs. Its major materials are the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate. A related rock is dolostone, which contains a high percentage of the mineral dolomite, CaMg2. In fact, in old USGS publications, dolostone was referred to as magnesian limestone, a term now reserved for magnesium-deficient dolostones or magnesium-rich limestones. About 10% of sedimentary rocks are limestones; the solubility of limestone in water and weak acid solutions leads to karst landscapes, in which water erodes the limestone over thousands to millions of years. Most cave systems are through limestone bedrock. Limestone has numerous uses: as a building material, an essential component of concrete, as aggregate for the base of roads, as white pigment or filler in products such as toothpaste or paints, as a chemical feedstock for the production of lime, as a soil conditioner, or as a popular decorative addition to rock gardens.
Like most other sedimentary rocks, most limestone is composed of grains. Most grains in limestone are skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as foraminifera; these organisms secrete shells made of aragonite or calcite, leave these shells behind when they die. Other carbonate grains composing limestones are ooids, peloids and extraclasts. Limestone contains variable amounts of silica in the form of chert or siliceous skeletal fragment, varying amounts of clay and sand carried in by rivers; some limestones do not consist of grains, are formed by the chemical precipitation of calcite or aragonite, i.e. travertine. Secondary calcite may be deposited by supersaturated meteoric waters; this produces speleothems, such as stalactites. Another form taken by calcite is oolitic limestone, which can be recognized by its granular appearance; the primary source of the calcite in limestone is most marine organisms. Some of these organisms can construct mounds of rock building upon past generations. Below about 3,000 meters, water pressure and temperature conditions cause the dissolution of calcite to increase nonlinearly, so limestone does not form in deeper waters.
Limestones may form in lacustrine and evaporite depositional environments. Calcite can be dissolved or precipitated by groundwater, depending on several factors, including the water temperature, pH, dissolved ion concentrations. Calcite exhibits an unusual characteristic called retrograde solubility, in which it becomes less soluble in water as the temperature increases. Impurities will cause limestones to exhibit different colors with weathered surfaces. Limestone may be crystalline, granular, or massive, depending on the method of formation. Crystals of calcite, dolomite or barite may line small cavities in the rock; when conditions are right for precipitation, calcite forms mineral coatings that cement the existing rock grains together, or it can fill fractures. Travertine is a banded, compact variety of limestone formed along streams where there are waterfalls and around hot or cold springs. Calcium carbonate is deposited where evaporation of the water leaves a solution supersaturated with the chemical constituents of calcite.
Tufa, a porous or cellular variety of travertine, is found near waterfalls. Coquina is a poorly consolidated limestone composed of pieces of coral or shells. During regional metamorphism that occurs during the mountain building process, limestone recrystallizes into marble. Limestone is a parent material of Mollisol soil group. Two major classification schemes, the Folk and the Dunham, are used for identifying the types of carbonate rocks collectively known as limestone. Robert L. Folk developed a classification system that places primary emphasis on the detailed composition of grains and interstitial material in carbonate rocks. Based on composition, there are three main components: allochems and cement; the Folk system uses two-part names. It is helpful to have a petrographic microscope when using the Folk scheme, because it is easier to determine the components present in each sample; the Dunham scheme focuses on depositional textures. Each name is based upon the texture of the grains. Robert J. Dunham published his system for limestone in 1962.
Dunham divides the rocks into four main groups based on relative proportions of coarser clastic particles. Dunham names are for rock families, his efforts deal with the question of whether or not the grains were in mutual contact, therefore self-supporting, or whether the rock is characterized by the presence of frame builders and algal mats. Unlike the Folk scheme, Dunham deals with the original porosity of the rock; the Dunham scheme is more useful for hand samples because it is based on texture, not the grains in the sample. A revised classification was proposed by Wright, it adds some diagenetic patterns and can be summarized as follows: See: Carbonate platform About 10% of all sedimentary rocks are limestones. Limestone is soluble in acid, therefore forms many erosional landforms; these include limestone pavements, pot holes, cenotes and gorges. Such erosion landscapes are known
The Caspian Sea is the world's largest inland body of water, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. It is an endorheic basin located between Europe and Asia, to the east of the Caucasus Mountains and to the west of the broad steppe of Central Asia; the sea has a surface area of 371,000 km2 and a volume of 78,200 km3. It has a salinity of 1.2%, about a third of the salinity of most seawater. It is bounded by Kazakhstan to the northeast, Russia to the northwest, Azerbaijan to the west, Iran to the south, Turkmenistan to the southeast; the Caspian Sea is home to a wide range of species and may be best known for its caviar and oil industries. Pollution from the oil industry and dams on rivers draining into the Caspian Sea have had negative effects on the organisms living in the sea; the wide and endorheic Caspian Sea has a north–south orientation and its main freshwater inflow, the Volga River, enters at the shallow north end. Two deep basins occupy its southern areas.
These lead to horizontal differences in temperature and ecology. The Caspian Sea spreads out over nearly 750 miles from north to south, with an average width of 200 miles, it covers a region of around 149,200 square miles and its surface is about 90 feet below sea level. The sea bed in the southern part reaches as low as 1,023 m below sea level, the second lowest natural depression on Earth after Lake Baikal; the ancient inhabitants of its coast perceived the Caspian Sea as an ocean because of its saltiness and large size. The word Caspian is derived from the name of the Caspi, an ancient people who lived to the southwest of the sea in Transcaucasia. Strabo wrote that "to the country of the Albanians belongs the territory called Caspiane, named after the Caspian tribe, as was the sea. Moreover, the Caspian Gates, the name of a region in Iran's Tehran province indicates that they migrated to the south of the sea; the Iranian city of Qazvin shares the root of its name with that of the sea. In fact, the traditional Arabic name for the sea itself is Baḥr al-Qazwin.
In classical antiquity among Greeks and Persians it was called the Hyrcanian Ocean. In Persian middle age, as well as in modern Iran, it is known as Daryā-e Khazar. Ancient Arabic sources refer to it as Baḥr Gīlān meaning "the Gilan Sea". Turkic languages refer to the lake as Khazar Sea. In Turkmen, the name is Hazar deňizi, in Azeri, it is Xəzər dənizi, in modern Turkish, it is Hazar denizi. In all these cases, the second word means "sea", the first word refers to the historical Khazars who had a large empire based to the north of the Caspian Sea between the 7th and 10th centuries. An exception is Kazakh, where it is called Kaspiy teñizi. Renaissance European maps labelled it as Mar de Bachu, or Mar de Sala. Old Russian sources call it the Khvalis Sea after the name of Khwarezmia. In modern Russian, it is called Каспи́йское мо́ре, Kaspiyskoye more; the Caspian Sea, like the Black Sea, is a remnant of the ancient Paratethys Sea. Its seafloor is, therefore, a standard oceanic basalt and not a continental granite body.
It became landlocked about 5.5 million years ago due to a fall in sea level. During warm and dry climatic periods, the landlocked sea dried up, depositing evaporitic sediments like halite that were covered by wind-blown deposits and were sealed off as an evaporite sink when cool, wet climates refilled the basin. Due to the current inflow of fresh water in the north, the Caspian Sea water is fresh in its northern portions, getting more brackish toward the south, it is most saline on the Iranian shore. The mean salinity of the Caspian is one third that of Earth's oceans; the Garabogazköl embayment, which dried up when water flow from the main body of the Caspian was blocked in the 1980s but has since been restored exceeds oceanic salinity by a factor of 10. The Caspian Sea is the largest inland body of water in the world and accounts for 40 to 44% of the total lacustrine waters of the world; the coastlines of the Caspian are shared by Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. The Caspian is divided into three distinct physical regions: the Northern and Southern Caspian.
The Northern–Middle boundary is the Mangyshlak Threshold, which runs through Chechen Island and Cape Tiub-Karagan. The Middle–Southern boundary is the Apsheron Threshold, a sill of tectonic origin between the Eurasian continent and an oceanic remnant, that runs through Zhiloi Island and Cape Kuuli; the Garabogazköl Bay is the saline eastern inlet of the Caspian, part of Turkmenistan and at times has been a lake in its own right due to the isthmus that cuts it off from the Caspian. Differences between the three regions are dramatic; the Northern Caspian only includes the Caspian shelf, is shallow. The sea noticeably drops off towards the Middle Caspian; the Southern Caspian is the deepest, with oceanic depths of over 1,000 metres exceeding the depth of other reg
Tel Lachish, is the site of an ancient Near East city, now an archaeological site and an Israeli national park. Lachish is located in the Shephelah region of Israel between Mount Hebron and the Mediterranean coast, it is first mentioned in the Amarna letters as Lakisha-Lakiša. According to the Bible, the Israelites captured and destroyed Lachish for joining the league against the Gibeonites; the territory was assigned to the tribe of Judah and became part of the Kingdom of Israel. Of the cities in ancient Judah, Lachish was second in importance only to Jerusalem. One of the Lachish letters warns of the impending Babylonian destruction, it reads: "Let my lord know that we are watching over the beacon of Lachish, according to the signals which my lord gave, for Azekah is not seen." According to the prophet Jeremiah and Azekah were the last two Judean cities before the conquest of Jerusalem. This pottery inscription can be seen at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Occupation at the site of Lachish began during the Pottery Neolithic period.
Major development began in the Early Bronze Age. During the Middle Bronze II, the Canaanite settlement came under strong Egyptian influence; the next peak was the late Late Bronze Age. This phase of the city was destroyed in a fire ca. 1150 BCE. The city, under protection of the New Kingdom of Egypt, was rebuilt by the Caananites. One of the two discovered temples was built at the northwest corner of the mound, outside the city limits and within the disused moat, which led the archaeologists to call it the Fosse Temple. However, this settlement was soon destroyed by another fire from an invasion by the Sea Peoples or Israelites; the mound was abandoned for two centuries. Rebuilding of the city began in the Early Iron Age during the 10th and 9th centuries BCE when it was settled by the Israelites; the unfortified settlement may have been destroyed c. 925 BCE by Egyptian Pharaoh Sheshonk I. In the first half of the 9th century BCE, under the kings Asa and Jehoshaphat, Lachish became an important city in the kingdom of Judah.
It was fortified with massive walls and ramparts and a royal palace was built on a platform in the center of the city. Lachish was the foremost among several fortified cities and strongholds guarding the valleys that lead up to Jerusalem and the interior of the country against enemies which approached from the coast. In 701 BCE, during the revolt of king Hezekiah against Assyria, it was besieged and captured by Sennacherib despite the defenders' determined resistance; some scholars believe that the fall of Lachish occurred during a second campaign in the area by Sennacherib ca. 688 BCE. The site now contains the only remains of an Assyrian siege ramp discovered so far. Sennacherib devoted a whole room in his "Palace without a rival", the South-west palace in Nineveh, for artistic representations of the siege on large alabaster slabs, most of which are now on display in the British Museum, they hold depictions of Assyrian siege ramps, battering rams and other siege machines and army units, along with Lachish's architecture and its final surrender.
In combination with the archaeological finds, they give a good understanding of siege warfare of the period. So much attention was given to the success at Lachish because, unlike it, Jerusalem managed to withstand Sennacherib's onslaught; the town was rebuilt in the late 7th century BCE during the decline of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. However, the city fell to Nebuchadnezzar in his campaign against Judah in 586 BCE. Modern excavation of the site has revealed that the Assyrians built a stone and dirt ramp up to the level of the Lachish city wall, thereby allowing the soldiers to charge up the ramp and storm the city. Excavations revealed 1,500 skulls in one of the caves near the site, hundreds of arrowheads on the ramp and at the top of the city wall, indicating the ferocity of the battle; the city occupied an area of 8 hectares and was destroyed in 587 BCE. Residents were exiled as part of the Babylonian captivity. During Babylonian occupation, a large residence was built on the platform that had once supported the Israeli palace.
At the end of the captivity, some exiled Jews returned to Lachish and built a new city with fortifications. Under the Babylonian or Achaemenid Empire, a large altar on the east section of the mound was built; the shrine was abandoned. The tell has been unoccupied since then. Lachish is mentioned in several books in the Hebrew Bible; the Book of Joshua refers to Lachish in chapter 10. Japhia, the King of Lachish, is listed as one of the Five Amorite Kings that allied to repel the invasion. After a surprise attack from the Israelites, the kings took refuge in a cave, where they were captured and put to death. Joshua and the Israelites took the city of Lachish after a two-day siege, exterminating the populace. In 12:11, the King of Lachish is mentioned as one of the thirty-one kings conquered by Joshua; the city is assigned to the Tribe of Judah in 15:39 as part of the western foothills. Rehoboam son of Solomon's fortifications of Lachish are recorded in II Chronicles. In II Kings and II Chronicles 25:27, Amaziah of Judah flees to Lachish after he was defeated by Jehoash of Israel, where he is captured and executed.
The Book of Micah warns the residents of Lachish that the destruction of Samaria by the Assyrians will soon spread to Judah. II Kings 18:14 mentions
Masada is an ancient fortification in the Southern District of Israel situated on top of an isolated rock plateau, akin to a mesa. It is located on the eastern edge of the Judaean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea 20 km east of Arad. Herod the Great built two palaces for himself on the mountain and fortified Masada between 37 and 31 BCE. According to Josephus, the siege of Masada by Roman troops at the end of the First Jewish–Roman War ended in the mass suicide of 960 people, the Sicarii rebels and their families who were hiding there. Masada is one of Israel's most popular tourist attractions; the cliff of Masada is, geologically speaking, a horst. As the plateau abruptly ends in cliffs steeply falling about 400 m to the east and about 90 m to the west, the natural approaches to the fortress are difficult to navigate; the top of the mesa-like plateau is flat and rhomboid-shaped, about 550 m by 270 m. Herod built a 4 m high casemate wall around the plateau totalling 1,300 m in length, reinforced by many towers.
The fortress contained storehouses, barracks, an armory, a palace, cisterns that were refilled by rainwater. Three narrow, winding paths led from below up to fortified gates. All historical information about Masada comes from the first-century Jewish Roman historian Josephus. Josephus writes that the site was first fortified by Hasmonean ruler Alexander Jannaeus in the first century BCE. However, no Hasmonean-period building remains could be identified during archaeological excavations. Josephus further writes that Herod the Great captured it in the power struggle that followed the death of his father Antipater, it survived the siege of the last Hasmonean king Antigonus II Mattathias, who ruled with Parthian support. According to Josephus, between 37 and 31 BCE, Herod the Great built a large fortress on the plateau as a refuge for himself in the event of a revolt, erected there two palaces. In 66 CE, a group of Jewish rebels, the Sicarii, overcame the Roman garrison of Masada with the aid of a ruse.
After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, additional members of the Sicarii fled Jerusalem and settled on the mountaintop after slaughtering the Roman garrison. According to Josephus, the Sicarii were an extremist Jewish splinter group antagonistic to a larger grouping of Jews referred to as the Zealots, who carried the main burden of the rebellion. Josephus said that the Sicarii raided nearby Jewish villages including Ein Gedi, where they massacred 700 women and children. In 73 CE, the Roman governor of Iudaea, Lucius Flavius Silva, headed the Roman legion X Fretensis and laid siege to Masada; the Roman legion surrounded Masada, built a circumvallation wall and a siege ramp against the western face of the plateau. According to Dan Gill, geological investigations in the early 1990s confirmed earlier observations that the 114 m high assault ramp consisted of a natural spur of bedrock; the ramp was complete in the spring of 73, after two to three months of siege, allowing the Romans to breach the wall of the fortress with a battering ram on April 16.
The Romans employed the X Legion and a number of auxiliary units and Jewish prisoners of war, totaling some 15,000, in crushing Jewish resistance at Masada. A giant siege tower with a battering ram was constructed and moved laboriously up the completed ramp. According to Josephus, when Roman troops entered the fortress, they discovered that its defendants had set all the buildings but the food storerooms ablaze and committed mass suicide or killed each other, 960 men and children in total. Josephus wrote of two stirring speeches that the Sicari leader had made to convince his men to kill themselves. Only two women and five children were found alive. Josephus based his narration upon the field commentaries of the Roman commanders that were accessible to him. Significant discrepancies exist between archaeological findings and Josephus' writings. Josephus mentions only one of the two palaces that have been excavated, refers only to one fire, while many buildings show fire damage, claims that 960 people were killed, while the remains of only 28 bodies at the most have been found.
The year of the siege of Masada may have been 73 or 74 CE. Masada was last occupied during the Byzantine period, when a small church was established at the site; the church was part of a monastic settlement identified with the monastery of Marda known from hagiographical literature. This identification is accepted by researchers; the Aramaic common noun marda, "fortress", corresponds in meaning to the Greek name of another desert monastery of the time, is used to describe that site in the vita of St Sabbas, but it is only used as a proper name for the monastery at Masada, as can be seen from the vita of St Euthymius. An inaccessible cave, dubbed Yoram Cave, located on the sheer southern cliff face 100 m below the plateau, has been found to contain numerous plant remains, of which 6,000-year-old barley seeds were in such good state of preservation that their genome could be sequenced; this is the first time that this succeeded with a Chalcolithic plant genome, the oldest one sequenced so far.
The result helped determine that the earliest domestication of barley, dated elsewhere in the Fertile Crescent to 10,000 years ago, happened further north up the Jordan Rift Valley, namely in the Upper Jordan Valley in northern Israel. The Yoram Cave seeds were found to be different from the wild variety, proof for an advanced process of domestication, but similar to the types of barley still cultivated in the region - an indication for remarkable constancy. Co