A vast fortress on the west bank of the Dead Sea, extended and strengthened by Herod the Great during his reign (37–4 BCE) and used to accommodate his relatives in safety during his absences. It was taken over by the Jewish rebels early in the war against the Romans in 66 CE and was the last stronghold of resistance. It was said by Josephus to be large enough to grow produce to supply the refugees inside. However, in 73 CE all except seven women and children committed suicide after a ferocious assault by the Romans so that today Masada is a nationalist symbol for heroism.