The Mantle and Towers

The Mantle and Towers of the Hilltop Palace-Fortress

קירות המעטפת והמגדלים


The general plan of the hilltop Palace-Fortress is circular, defined by the two parallel perimeter walls, with four towers integrated into them; together they form the Palace-Fortress’ mantle. The exterior wall is thicker than the interior, and the space between the two walls is divided into seven storeys; the five storeys above ground were corridors and storage areas, the other two, subterranean cellars.
The external diameter of the thick outer wall is 63 meters, with the inner face of the interior wall 3.5 m from the outer circumference, making the interior diameter 56 meters. Both walls are currently preserved to a height of between 10 to 15 meters above the original ground level – equivalent to two or three storeys of the original structure (each storey was 5 meters high). The space between the two walls, now debris-filled, was divided into storeys by ceilings laid on wooden beams; the extent of each of these corridor storeys reached 155 m.! The corridors, which were undoubtedly used for storage space, allowed access to the three semi-circular towers, and also to the lower storeys of the circular eastern tower. Below ground level were another two corridors, used as cellars, and these are still covered by the original stone vaults (the lowest storey stands on bedrock).
Three of the four towers surrounding the Palace are semi-circular, while the eastern one is circular; each one was divided into four rooms, providing 12 rooms on each storey for the use of the King’s bodyguards, servants and retinue. The original height of the towers is uncertain; they may have stood one storey above the perimeter mantle, as was common with towers protruding from city walls or fortresses. But they may also have stood a storey lower, with balconies on their roofs, similar to the tower on the upper level of Masada’s Northern Palace.
Only the sealed pedestal of the eastern tower is preserved, with a cistern and two small cellars above it. On this foundation stood a number of storeys which served as a sort of “penthouse”, from which it was possible to enjoy the scenery or the cool breeze on a hot summer’s day.


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