Masada, the Human Remains: An Anthropological Critique

Masada, known throughout the western world for the suicide narrative described by Josephus and later excavations by Professor Yigal Yadin, is not without controversy. Outside the academic world, few are aware of the controversy surrounding Masada; however, scholars have long questioned the veracity of the narrative and its interpretation by Yadin. Unfortunately, few scholars have subjected the narrative to rigorous anthropological research, the basis upon which the final Masada drama rests. Professor Amnon Ben-Tor, who excavated Masada, has attempted to summarize the archaeological along with the anthropological findings for a wider public audience. However honest his attempt, the anthropological findings strongly suggest that nearly all, if not all of the human remains found to date, are ethnically non-Jewish.

By Joe Zias
Science and Antiquity
Jerusalem, Israel
July 2019

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Article Comments

Submitted by Martin Hughes on Tue, 07/09/2019 - 15:07

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Have we now sufficient reason to say that Josephus made up the suicide story to promote sales of his book and that there was no great military event at Masada?

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