Modeling the demands for wood by the inhabitants of Masada and for the Roman siege

S. Lev-Yadun, D. S. Lucas, M. Weinstein-Evron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Modeling the demands for wood, especially firewood, for the inhabitants of the unique desert fortress of Masada during the major period of its occupation (beginning about 150 B.C.E. and ending with its fall after the Roman siege in 73 C.E.) is based on the well-documented history of the site, of the number of inhabitants in each phase of occupation, and the current demand for firewood in traditional societies. The previously analyzed ancient botanical remains from Masada provide base-line data of the types of wood used. We have concluded that when the Roman siege began in C.E. 73, the vicinity of Masada would have been denuded of trees and shrubs as a result of ca. 225 years of occupation. Therefore, the Tamarix wood used to construct the upper parts of the Roman siege rampart was probably not local. The isotopic composition of the Tamarix beams probably indicates that they were imported from a different region, such as the more humid and cooler river banks east of the Dead Sea, rather than the result of climate change as previously proposed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)777-785
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • Dead Sea
  • Desert
  • Environmental impact
  • Firewood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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