The first edifices at Masada were built in the period of Hasmonean rulers of Judea. They gained independence to the Jewish people from the Ptolemaic tyrants and formed their own dynasty of kings. One of them, Alexander Jannaeus who ruled over Judea from 103 to 76 BC, probably built the first buildings at the site.
However, the pick of construction at Masada was carried out by king Herod the Great. He ruled from 37 to 4 BC. Almost seventy years later, the governor of Judea Flavius Silva had conquered destroyed Masada. The place was abandoned and forgotten until it was rediscovered again by the American scholar Edward Robinson, in the 19th century.
Masada during king Herod times was not occupied in summer months. Herod resided in his other palaces in summer, in Jerusalem, Caesarea, Jericho, Herodion, Caesarea Philippi and other locations. At this time Masada was home for a small garrison of soldiers and guards who took care of the place and guarded the kings' property. Also the task of the contingent was to make sure that the water cisterns on the southern side of the cliff and the one below the Snake Path were filled with water to the brim. How did the do that? Using the mules who carried leather pouches with water to the cisterns. The military garrison also guarded the entrance to the gate. The gate was situated at the end of the path called "The Snake Path". King Herod stayed at Masada for several weeks of every winter.
King Herod constantly spent a few weeks of winter at Masada. I was something like his winter resort and also a place of refuge in the times of danger. Lots of soldiers, slaves, preceded his visit in order to prepare the place for the king's coming. The swimming pool was filled with water, the furnace of the bathhouse was heated and the delicious meals cooked in advance. Normally quite Masada was instantly transformed into a thriving center upon Herod'd arrival. But seventy years later, in the times when the Zealots seized the fortress, the life there was turned into something completely different.
to be continued...