The Dead Sea is located in the Jordan Valley between Israel, the West Bank and Jordan, at the lowest exposed point on the Earth’s surface. It’s the world’s deepest hyper saline lake. in Hebrew the Dead Sea is known as ´Yam ha-Melah´ which means ´sea of salt´ of ´Yam ha-Mavet´ which means ´sea of death´.
Since thousands of years many visitors from around the world come to the Dead Sea. They believe that the mud on the shores and the saline waters contain medicinal and healing powers. Many visitors rub the dark mud onto their skin and hope it will bring them therapeutic results.
Another and fun activity for visitors is floating in many different ways and trying to sink, which is impossible. The unusual high concentration of salt makes the water denser than the human body. This makes it even almost impossible to stand straight in the water. Visitors are also warned of the dangers of the hyper saline lake, you should always protect your eyes.
The lake is named ´dead´ because it’s impossible for fish or other aquatic creatures to live in the saline water. Only very little amounts of microbial fungi and bacteria live in the sea. The mountains around the lake are home to a variety of animals, such as hares, jackals, foxes, camels, hyraxes, ibexes, leopards en hundreds of different birds.
Sodom And Gomorra
The human history of the Dead Sea goes back to ancient times. Jericho, located north of the sea, is probably one of the world’s oldest constantly inhabited town. Sodom and Gomorra, part of the ´Cities of the Plain´ are believed to be close by. Sodom and Gomorra were mentioned in the Book of Genesis and demolished in Abraham’s time.
The underlying rift below the base of the Dead Sea is an extension of the Rift Valley in Africa. It’s geology causes chunks of asphalt being pressed out of the ground and float up to the surface. This was a precious trading product because Egyptians used it for preserving mummies.
Dead Sea Scrolls
Jesus, Herod the Great and John the Baptist were personally linked to the Dead Sea and the surrounding mountains. They settled on the northern shore where they carved out storage caves for holy texts in the soft marl. Nowadays these caves are known as ´the Dead Sea Scrolls´.
The Dead Sea has no outlet and the River Jordan is the main source of water. The lake receives only between 50 and 100 mm of rain a year. The surface of the sea is shrinking because of the flow decrease of the River Jordan and the high evaporation rate of the hyper saline lake. t the southern end of the Dead Sea you can already see the consequences: the drained sea became salt flats.