The Dead Sea, located in the Rift Valley is 75km long, between 6 and 15km wide and is 7 times saltier than sea water. The name “Dead Sea” refers to the fact that due to its high level of salinity no organic life can exist in its waters. The main water supply is from the Jordan River, however there is no outlet so the water evaporates leaving behind a highly buoyant and mineral rich water.
Considered the world’s largest and probably first natural spa, it has attracted visitors since ancient times. The Egyptian queen – Cleopatra – and King Herod the Great frequented the Sea. The Nabataeans extracted bitumen which they supplied to the Egyptians for embalming purposes. Today major products sourced from the Sea are potash, table salt, cosmetic and therapeutic preparations. Many of the major hotel groups have spa and fitness resorts on the northern foreshore or nearby.
The area is believed to have been the location of 5 biblical sites – Sodom & Gomorrah, Adman, Zebouin and Bela (Zoar) where many events took place. The most famous is the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah when Lot and his family were allowed to flee the destruction. Lot’s wife disobeyed God’s instructions, looking back at the destruction. As a result she was turned into a pillar of salt. A rock formation overlooking the southern end of the Dead Sea is called Lot’s Wife’s Pillar. Nearby is Lot’s Cave where Lot and his 2 daughters sought refuge – the remains of a Byzantine church mark the site.