The panoramic vistas from atop Masada are spectacular! The first thing you notice is the Judean Desert. The barren landscape is covered with rocks and scarred by deep ravines. Some of these wadis plunge more than 1,000 feet. The desert sprawls for 580 square miles from north to south. You assume nothing could or would want to live on this desolate terrain. Your assumption is wrong. The area has been inhabited for 11,000 years. Much of the white sediment seen here was left behind by the retreating Dead Sea (background). Rising above the waterline are the Moab Mountains along the western border of Jordan.