History of the Dead Sea and Sites to see

When traveling to Israel and Palestine, the Dead Sea is one of the top destinations for visitors as well as Dead Sea Beaches, Masada, Eni Gedi Nature Reserve, and Qumran.

About the Dead Sea

The Dead Sea has attracted visitor from around the world for centuries because of the minerals in the water. It is a natural health spa. The Dead Sea is the lowest elevation on land at – 997 feet or -304 meters. It is also 9.6 time saltier than an ocean at 34.2% salt or 342g/kg. The Dead Sea is 31 miles or 50 kilometers long and 9 miles or 15 kilometers wide at its widest point. It lies in the Jordan River Valley on the border with Israel Palestine and Jordan.[1]

Dead Sea Beaches

There are several places where you can access the Dead Sea. Some places offer showers, so you can wash the salt and mineral off before heading to your next destination and some offer overnight accommodations. Here are a few options to consider:

Kalia Beach is at the north end of the Dead Sea and will be one of the first beach you come to from Jerusalem or Galilei.

Neve Midbar Beach is another Beach at the North end of the Dead Sea. The beach boasts two swimming pools – one for adults and older children, and one for toddlers. There is also a restaurant, camp ground, showers and life guards.

Ein Gedi Sea of Spa is across the highway from the Dead Sea and offers many services including access to their private beach, massages, skin cosmetics, swimming pool and restaurant.

Ein Bokek Beach Entrance to Ein Bokek Beach is free of charge, and it’s suitable for all ages. It is located right next to the hotel strip of the Dead Sea, and not far from the hotels’ shopping center and the Ein Tchelet Mall.

Masada

The siege of Masada was one of the final events in the First Jewish–Roman War, occurring from 73 to 74 CE on a large hilltop and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Herod the Great built palaces for himself on the mountain and fortified Masada between 37 and 31 BCE. According to Josephus, the siege of Masada by troops of the Roman Empire at the end of the First Jewish–Roman War ended in the mass suicide of 960 people, the Sicarii rebels and their families hiding there. It is also an archaeological site of great significance. The remains of Herod’s palaces are outstanding and very intact examples of this type of architecture, whilst the untouched siege works are the finest and most complete anywhere in the Roman world. The property is managed by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, in cooperation with the Israel Antiquities Authority. An important aspect of the current management plan is the decision to carry out no further research excavation on the main site “in the present generation”, although limited excavation will be permitted when required by conservation, maintenance or restoration projects.

En Gedi Nature Reserve

In the Old Testament of the Bible, David, fleeing from King Saul, hides in the strongholds at Ein Gedi (1 Samuel 23:29 and 24:1-2) and Saul seeks him “even upon the most craggy rocks, which are accessible only to wild goats” (1 Samuel 24:2). En Gedi is also referenced in Psalm 63, subtitled a Psalm of David when he was in the wilderness of Judah, and has been associated with David’s sojourn in the desert of En Gedi.

Today En Gedi is a Nature Reserve offering beautiful hiking with opportunities to see wild life such as Ibex and rare trees (Brochure). In order to reduce the impact of the mass of visitors on the nature reserve, a network of trails was arranged, and an entrance fee began to be charged back in the 1970. In this way, some areas have been left undisturbed for the flora and fauna.

Qumran

Since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947–1956, extensive excavations have taken place in Qumran. Nearly 900 scrolls were discovered. Most were written on parchment and some on papyrus. Cisterns, Jewish ritual baths, and cemeteries have been found, along with a dining or assembly room and debris from an upper story alleged by some to have been a scriptorium as well as pottery kilns and a tower.

Many scholars believe the location was home to a Jewish sect, probably the Essenes. But, according to Lawrence Schiffman, the rules of the community, its heavy stress on priesthood and the Zadokite legacy, and other details indicate a Sadducean-oriented sect either distinct from or one of the various Essene groupings. [1]

Today, the Qumran Park offers an exhibition of archaeological items, and presentation of the  history of Qumran, The you can visit the archaeological site seeing the buildings that have been uncovered at Qumran offer evidence of a communal lifestyle, and the path passes through meeting rooms, a central dining room (refectory) in which ceremonial meals were held, the remains of the kitchen, the watchtower, pottery workshops, and stables.

As you can tell, there is much to see and experience in Israel and Palestine. One could easily spend a week in the Dead Sea are relaxing, hiking and touring. To arrange your next tour, please contact Aeolus Tours to experience our exceptional service and unique travel experiences.

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