The ruins of this stronghold, now called Sebbeh, are minutely delineated in the Memoirs accompanying the Ordnance Survey (3:417 sq.). See also Tristram, Land of Moab, page 46 sq. The following, from Conder's Tent Work (2:140), embraces the chief points:
"The rock of Masada measures 350 yard. east and west, by 690 yards north and soul, and its cliffs are 1500 feet in height above the plain on the east. Two paths lead up to the plateau on the top, that on the east being a winding ascent, now almost impassable, but by which captain Warren went up; this is apparently the path cailled the 'Serpent' by Josephus. The second path, on the west, ascends from a narrow sloping bank of white marl, which is about 1000 feet high, and which Josephus calls the 'White Promontory;' upon this rises the great ramp, about 300 feet high, which the Romans piled up against the rock during the siege, a work so laborious that it seems almost incredible that human efforts could have accomplished it in so short a time. At the top of the ramp is the masonry wall which the besiegers built as a foundation for their engines, before discovering the great tragedy that had been enacted within the fortress, where the garrison had fallen by one another's swords.
"A fatiguing climb brought us to the plateau at the top. Here is a pointed archway, indicative of Crusading masons, and scored with the tribe-marks of the Jahalin and Rushaideh Arabs, which were on a former occasion mistaken by a distinguished Frenchman for planetary signs.
"We fell to work at once with tape and compass to plan and describe the ruins. The buildings are principally on the north-west part of the rock, and they are of various dates. The most ancient appear to be the long rude walls, resembling the buildings at Herodium (Jebel Fureidis), but the majority of the masonry is to be ascribed to the Christians of the 5th or 12th centuries. There is a chapel on the plateau, and also a cave, in which I found a curious inscription with crosses, which is, apparently, a new discovery. It is painted in red, and resenmbles some of the 12th and 13th century inscriptions near Jericho. "The most extraordinary feature of this wonderful place has yet to be noticed. The Romans in their attack on Masada followed the same method which had reduced Jerusalem. They surrounded the unhappy Jews with a wall of circumvallation. Looking down from the summit, the ruins of this wall — a drystone parapet, running across the plain and up the southern hill-slopes — could be distinctly traced.
"Two large camps, also walled with stone, lay spread out behind this line on the west and east, and six smaller ones, like redoubts, on the. low ground; the entire length of the wall was not less than 3000 yards, as measured on our plan, and the whole remains almost as it was left eighteen hundred years ago."