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From 1963 to 1965, a distinguished Israeli general and archaeologist, Professor Yigael Yadin, led an international expedition to plumb the secrets of Masada. Volunteers from dozens of countries paid their way to Israel to help professional archaeologists unearth the ruins....
While Yadin made history at Masada, he also rewrote history to help a young nation find its place in the sun. Today considerable doubt has been cast on the initial findings of the Masada excavation....
Many inconsistencies, as built up by Yadin, are causing intellectuals in Israeli to think twice whether Masada should be applied to Israeli society. As an April 1, 2001 Jerusalem Post feature states, “For the better part of two generations, the Masada myth was a symbol of fledgling Zionist enterprise; it now threatens to slip back into obscurity.”...
Yadin put the number of human remains at twenty-five and later claimed, “they can be only those of the defenders of Masada.” In 1969 the Israeli state arranged for a full military burial of these remains in Jerusalem.
Before his death in 1984, Yadin admitted he was pressured by the Israeli government to make that connection, even though the cave contained pig bones among the skeletons, a common sacrificial burial practice for Roman dead....
While many still cling to the “Masada Myth,” other Israeli scholars regard Masada “as a cautionary tale of bloody-mixed extremism, which should be maintained on the margins of Jewish consciousness—if at all,” claimed the Jerusalem Post.
The story of Masada survives in the writings of Josephus. But not many Jews read Josephus, and for well over fifteen hundred years, it was a more or less forgotten episode in Jewish history. Then, in the 1920s, the Hebrew writer Isaac Lamdan wrote "Masada," a poetic history of the anguished Jewish fight against a world full of enemies. According to Professor David Roskies, Lamdan's poem, "more than any other text, later inspired the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto."
There are many apparent anomalies in the Masada story, and many of these can be traced to Israeli archaeologist and former Hagana* commander, Yigael Yadin and his interpretation of the archaeological remains.
* Hagana: Jewish paramilitary organization in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine from 1920 to 1948, which later became the core of the Israel Defense Forces.
Although a revered figure in Israel, he has been accused of interpreting his finds to fit a heroic mythos of Masada created by "moral entrepreneur" and educator, Shmaria Guttman.
As to his motives for doing this, sociologist, Nachman Ben-Yehuda suggests,
"nationalistic, ideological motivation played a very major part in the decision to excavate Masada".
He also says that it was perceived that Israel needed myths to help it,
"shape a central process of nation and state-building... to shape identities and create cohesion by fostering a strong sense of a shared past"....