The Dead Sea (Hebrew: יָם הַמֶּלַח Yam ha-Melah lit. Sea of Salt; Arabic: البحر الميت Al-Bahr al-Mayyit) is a salt lake bordered by Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west. It lies in the Jordan Rift Valley, and its main tributary is the Jordan River.
Its surface and shores are 430.5 metres (1,412 ft) below sea level, Earth's lowest elevation on land. It is 304 m (997 ft) deep, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world. With a salinity of 342 g/kg, or 34.2% (in 2011), it is one of the world's saltiest bodies of water – 9.6 times as salty as the ocean – and has a density of 1.24 kg/litre, which makes swimming similar to floating. This salinity makes for a harsh environment in which plants and animals cannot flourish, hence its name. The Dead Sea's main, northern basin is 50 kilometres (31 mi) long and 15 kilometres (9 mi) wide at its widest point.
The Dead Sea has attracted visitors from around the Mediterranean Basin for thousands of years. It was one of the world's first health resorts (for Herod the Great), and it has been the supplier of a wide variety of products, from asphalt for Egyptian mummification to potash for fertilisers. People also use the salt and the minerals from the Dead Sea to create cosmetics and herbal sachets.
The Dead Sea is receding at an alarming rate; its surface area today is 605 km2 (234 sq mi), having been 1,050 km2 (410 sq mi) in 1930. Multiple canals and pipelines were proposed to reduce its recession, which had begun causing many problems. The Red Sea–Dead Sea Water Conveyance project, carried out by Jordan, will provide water to neighbouring countries, while the brine will be carried to the Dead Sea to help stabilise its levels. The first phase of the project is scheduled to begin in 2018 and be completed in 2021.
ים המלח (in Hebrew)
البحر الميت (in Arabic)
A view of the sea from the Israeli shore
|Primary inflows||Jordan River|
|Catchment area||41,650 km2 (16,080 sq mi)|
|Max. length||50 km (31 mi) (northern basin only)|
|Max. width||15 km (9.3 mi)|
|Surface area||605 km2 (234 sq mi) (2016)|
|Average depth||199 m (653 ft)|
|Max. depth||298 m (978 ft) (elevation of deepest point, 728 m BSL [below sea level], minus current surface elevation)|
|Water volume||114 km3 (27 cu mi)|
|Shore length1||135 km (84 mi)|
|Surface elevation||−430.5 m (−1,412 ft) (2016)|
|1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.|
In Hebrew, the Dead Sea is Yām ha-Melaḥ (help·info) (ים המלח), meaning "sea of salt" (Genesis 14:3). The Bible uses this term alongside two others: the Sea of the Arabah (Yām ha-‘Ărāvâ ים הערבה), and the Eastern Sea (Yām ha-Mizraḥî ים המזרחי). The designation "Dead Sea" never appears in the Bible.
In prose sometimes the term Yām ha-Māvet (ים המוות, "sea of death") is used, due to the scarcity of aquatic life there. In Arabic the Dead Sea is called al-Bahr al-Mayyit (help·info) ("the Dead Sea"), or less commonly baḥrᵘ lūṭᵃ (بحر لوط, "the Sea of Lot"). Another historic name in Arabic was the "Sea of Zoʼar", after a nearby town in biblical times. The Greeks called it Lake Asphaltites (Attic Greek ἡ Θάλαττα ἀσφαλτῖτης, hē Thálatta asphaltĩtēs, "the Asphaltite sea").
The Dead Sea is an endorheic lake located in the Jordan Rift Valley, a geographic feature formed by the Dead Sea Transform (DST). This left lateral-moving transform fault lies along the tectonic plate boundary between the African Plate and the Arabian Plate. It runs between the East Anatolian Fault zone in Turkey and the northern end of the Red Sea Rift offshore of the southern tip of Sinai. It is here that the Upper Jordan River/Sea of Galilee/Lower Jordan River water system comes to an end.
The Jordan River is the only major water source flowing into the Dead Sea, although there are small perennial springs under and around the Dead Sea, forming pools and quicksand pits along the edges. There are no outlet streams.
The Mujib River, biblical Arnon, is one of the larger water sources of the Dead Sea other than the Jordan. The Wadi Mujib valley, 420 m below the sea level in the southern part of the Jordan valley, is a biosphere reserve, with an area of 212 km2 (82 sq mi). Other more substantial sources are Wadi Darajeh (Arabic)/Nahal Dragot (Hebrew), and Nahal Arugot. Wadi Hasa (biblical Zered) is another wadi flowing into the Dead Sea.
Rainfall is scarcely 100 mm (4 in) per year in the northern part of the Dead Sea and barely 50 mm (2 in) in the southern part. The Dead Sea zone's aridity is due to the rainshadow effect of the Judaean Mountains. The highlands east of the Dead Sea receive more rainfall than the Dead Sea itself.
To the west of the Dead Sea, the Judaean mountains rise less steeply and are much lower than the mountains to the east. Along the southwestern side of the lake is a 210 m (700 ft) tall halite formation called "Mount Sodom".
There are two contending hypotheses about the origin of the low elevation of the Dead Sea. The older hypothesis is that the Dead Sea lies in a true rift zone, an extension of the Red Sea Rift, or even of the Great Rift Valley of eastern Africa. A more recent hypothesis is that the Dead Sea basin is a consequence of a "step-over" discontinuity along the Dead Sea Transform, creating an extension of the crust with consequent subsidence.
Around 3.7 million years ago, what is now the valley of the Jordan River, Dead Sea, and the northern Wadi Arabah was repeatedly inundated by waters from the Mediterranean Sea. The waters formed in a narrow, crooked bay that is called by geologists the Sedom Lagoon, which was connected to the sea through what is now the Jezreel Valley. The floods of the valley came and went depending on long-scale climate change. The Sedom Lagoon deposited beds of salt that eventually became 2.5 km (1.55 mi) thick.
Approximately two million years ago, the land between the Rift Valley and the Mediterranean Sea rose to such an extent that the ocean could no longer flood the area. Thus, the long lagoon became a landlocked lake. The Sedom Lagoon extended at its maximum from the Sea of Galilee in the north to somewhere around 50 km (30 mi) south of the current southern end of the Dead Sea, and the subsequent lakes obviously never surpassed this expanse. The Hula Depression was never part of any of these water bodies due to its higher elevation and the high threshold of the Korazim block separating it from the Sea of Galilee basin.
The first prehistoric lake to follow the Sedom Lagoon is named Lake Amora, followed by Lake Lisan and finally by the Dead Sea. The water levels and salinity of these lakes have either risen or fallen as an effect of the tectonic dropping of the valley bottom, and due to climate variation. As the climate became more arid, Lake Lisan finally shrank and became saltier, leaving the Dead Sea as its last remainder.
In prehistoric times, great amounts of sediment collected on the floor of Lake Amora. The sediment was heavier than the salt deposits and squeezed the salt deposits upwards into what are now the Lisan Peninsula and Mount Sodom (on the southwest side of the lake). Geologists explain the effect in terms of a bucket of mud into which a large flat stone is placed, forcing the mud to creep up the sides of the bucket. When the floor of the Dead Sea dropped further due to tectonic forces, the salt mounts of Lisan and Mount Sodom stayed in place as high cliffs (see salt dome).
From 70,000 to 12,000 years ago, the lake's level was 100 m (330 ft) to 250 m (820 ft) higher than its current level. This lake, Lake Lisan, fluctuated dramatically, rising to its highest level around 26,000 years ago, indicating a very wet climate in the Near East. Around 10,000 years ago, the lake's level dropped dramatically, probably even lower than today. During the last several thousand years, the lake has fluctuated approximately 400 m (1,300 ft), with some significant drops and rises. Current theories as to the cause of this dramatic drop in levels rule out volcanic activity; therefore, it may have been a seismic event.
The Dead Sea's climate offers year-round sunny skies and dry air. It has less than 50 millimetres (2 in) mean annual rainfall and a summer average temperature between 32 and 39 °C (90 and 102 °F). Winter average temperatures range between 20 and 23 °C (68 and 73 °F). The region has weaker ultraviolet radiation, particularly the UVB (erythrogenic rays). Given the higher atmospheric pressure, the air has a slightly higher oxygen content (3.3% in summer to 4.8% in winter) as compared to oxygen concentration at sea level. Barometric pressures at the Dead Sea were measured between 1061 and 1065 hPa and clinically compared with health effects at higher altitude. (This barometric measure is about 5% higher than sea level standard atmospheric pressure of 1013.25 hPa, which is the global ocean mean or ATM.) The Dead Sea affects temperatures nearby because of the moderating effect a large body of water has on climate. During the winter, sea temperatures tend to be higher than land temperatures, and vice versa during the summer months. This is the result of the water's mass and specific heat capacity. On average, there are 192 days above 30 °C (86 °F) annually.
|Climate data for Dead Sea, Sedom (390 m below sea level)|
|Record high °C (°F)||26.4
|Average high °C (°F)||20.5
|Daily mean °C (°F)||16.6
|Average low °C (°F)||12.7
|Record low °C (°F)||5.4
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||7.8
|Average precipitation days||3.3||3.5||2.5||1.3||0.2||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.4||1.6||2.8||15.6|
|Average relative humidity (%)||41||38||33||27||24||23||24||27||31||33||36||41||32|
|Source: Israel Meteorological Service|
With 34.2% salinity (in 2011), it is one of the world's saltiest bodies of water, though Lake Vanda in Antarctica (35%), Lake Assal in Djibouti (34.8%), Lagoon Garabogazköl in the Caspian Sea (up to 35%) and some hypersaline ponds and lakes of the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica (such as Don Juan Pond (44%)) have reported higher salinities.
Until the winter of 1978–79, when a major mixing event took place, the Dead Sea was composed of two stratified layers of water that differed in temperature, density, age, and salinity. The topmost 35 meters (115 ft) or so of the Dead Sea had an average salinity of 342 parts per thousand (in 2002), and a temperature that swung between 19 °C (66 °F) and 37 °C (99 °F). Underneath a zone of transition, the lowest level of the Dead Sea had waters of a consistent 22 °C (72 °F) temperature and complete saturation of sodium chloride (NaCl). Since the water near the bottom is saturated, the salt precipitates out of solution onto the sea floor.
Beginning in the 1960s, water inflow to the Dead Sea from the Jordan River was reduced as a result of large-scale irrigation and generally low rainfall. By 1975, the upper water layer was saltier than the lower layer. Nevertheless, the upper layer remained suspended above the lower layer because its waters were warmer and thus less dense. When the upper layer cooled so its density was greater than the lower layer, the waters mixed (1978–79). For the first time in centuries, the lake was a homogeneous body of water. Since then, stratification has begun to redevelop.
The mineral content of the Dead Sea is very different from that of ocean water. The exact composition of the Dead Sea water varies mainly with season, depth and temperature. In the early 1980s, the concentration of ionic species (in g/kg) of Dead Sea surface water was Cl− (181.4), Br− (4.2), SO42− (0.4), HCO3− (0.2), Ca2+ (14.1), Na+ (32.5), K+ (6.2) and Mg2+ (35.2). The total salinity was 276 g/kg. These results show that the composition of the salt, as anhydrous chlorides on a weight percentage basis, was calcium chloride (CaCl2) 14.4%, potassium chloride (KCl) 4.4%, magnesium chloride (MgCl2) 50.8% and sodium chloride (NaCl) 30.4%. In comparison, the salt in the water of most oceans and seas is approximately 85% sodium chloride. The concentration of sulfate ions (SO42−) is very low, and the concentration of bromide ions (Br−) is the highest of all waters on Earth.
The salt concentration of the Dead Sea fluctuates around 31.5%. This is unusually high and results in a nominal density of 1.24 kg/l. Anyone can easily float in the Dead Sea because of natural buoyancy. In this respect the Dead Sea is similar to the Great Salt Lake in Utah in the United States.
An unusual feature of the Dead Sea is its discharge of asphalt. From deep seeps, the Dead Sea constantly spits up small pebbles and blocks of the black substance. Asphalt-coated figurines and bitumen-coated Neolithic skulls from archaeological sites have been found. Egyptian mummification processes used asphalt imported from the Dead Sea region.
The Dead Sea area has become a location for health research and potential treatment for several reasons. The mineral content of the water, the low content of pollens and other allergens in the atmosphere, the reduced ultraviolet component of solar radiation, and the higher atmospheric pressure at this great depth each may have specific health effects. For example, persons experiencing reduced respiratory function from diseases such as cystic fibrosis seem to benefit from the increased atmospheric pressure.
The region's climate and low elevation have made it a popular center for assessment of putative therapies:
Climatotherapy at the Dead Sea may be a therapy for psoriasis by sunbathing for long periods in the area due to its position below sea level and subsequent result that UV rays are partially blocked by the increased cloud cover over the Dead Sea.
Dead Sea mud pack therapy has been suggested to temporarily relieve pain in patients with osteoarthritis of the knees. According to researchers of the Ben Gurion University of the Negev, treatment with mineral-rich mud compresses can be used to augment conventional medical therapy.
The sea is called "dead" because its high salinity prevents macroscopic aquatic organisms, such as fish and aquatic plants, from living in it, though minuscule quantities of bacteria and microbial fungi are present.
In times of flood, the salt content of the Dead Sea can drop from its usual 35% to 30% or lower. The Dead Sea temporarily comes to life in the wake of rainy winters. In 1980, after one such rainy winter, the normally dark blue Dead Sea turned red. Researchers from Hebrew University of Jerusalem found the Dead Sea to be teeming with a type of alga called Dunaliella. Dunaliella in turn nourished carotenoid-containing (red-pigmented) halobacteria, whose presence caused the color change. Since 1980, the Dead Sea basin has been dry and the algae and the bacteria have not returned in measurable numbers.
In 2011 a group of scientists from Be'er Sheva, Israel and Germany discovered fissures in the floor of the Dead Sea by scuba diving and observing the surface. These fissures allow fresh and brackish water to enter the Dead Sea. They sampled biofilms surrounding the fissures and discovered numerous species of bacteria and archaea.
Many animal species live in the mountains surrounding the Dead Sea. Hikers can see ibex, hares, hyraxes, jackals, foxes, and even leopards. Hundreds of bird species inhabit the zone as well. Both Jordan and Israel have established nature reserves around the Dead Sea.
The delta of the Jordan River was formerly a jungle of papyrus and palm trees. The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus described Jericho as "the most fertile spot in Judea". In Roman and Byzantine times, sugarcane, henna, and sycamore fig all made the lower Jordan valley wealthy. One of the most valuable products produced by Jericho was the sap of the balsam tree, which could be made into perfume. By the 19th century, Jericho's fertility had disappeared.
There are several small communities near the Dead Sea. These include Ein Gedi, Neve Zohar and the Israeli settlements in the Megilot Regional Council: Kalya, Mitzpe Shalem and Avnat. There is a nature preserve at Ein Gedi, and several Dead Sea hotels are located on the southwest end at Ein Bokek near Neve Zohar. Highway 90 runs north-south on the Israeli side for a total distance of 565 km (351 mi) from Metula on the Lebanese border in the north to its southern terminus at the Egyptian border near the Red Sea port of Eilat.
Potash City is a small community on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea, and others including Suweima. Highway 65 runs north-south on the Jordanian side from near Jordan's northern tip down past the Dead Sea to the port of Aqaba.
Just northwest of the Dead Sea is Jericho. Somewhere, perhaps on the southeastern shore, would be the cities mentioned in the Book of Genesis which were said to have been destroyed in the time of Abraham: Sodom and Gomorra (Genesis 18) and the three other "Cities of the Plain", Admah, Zeboim and Zoar (Deuteronomy 29:23). Zoar escaped destruction when Abraham's nephew Lot escaped to Zoar from Sodom (Genesis 19:21–22). Before the destruction, the Dead Sea was a valley full of natural tar pits, which was called the vale of Siddim. King David was said to have hidden from Saul at Ein Gedi nearby.
In Ezekiel 47:8–9 there is a specific prophecy that the sea will "be healed and made fresh", becoming a normal lake capable of supporting marine life. A similar prophecy is stated in Zechariah 14:8, which says that "living waters will go out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea [likely the Dead Sea] and half to the western sea [the Mediterranean]."
Aristotle wrote about the remarkable waters. The Nabateans and others discovered the value of the globs of natural asphalt that constantly floated to the surface where they could be harvested with nets. The Egyptians were steady customers, as they used asphalt in the embalming process that created mummies. The Ancient Romans knew the Dead Sea as "Palus Asphaltites" (Asphalt Lake).
The Dead Sea was an important trade route with ships carrying salt, asphalt and agricultural produce. Multiple anchorages existed on both sides of the sea, including in Ein Gedi, Khirbet Mazin (where the ruins of a Hasmonean-era dry dock are located), Numeira and near Masada.
King Herod the Great built or rebuilt several fortresses and palaces on the western bank of the Dead Sea. The most famous was Masada, where in 70 CE a small group of Jewish zealots fled after the fall of the destruction of the Second Temple. The zealots survived until 73 CE, when a siege by the X Legion ended in the deaths by suicide of its 960 inhabitants. Another historically important fortress was Machaerus (מכוור), on the eastern bank, where, according to Josephus, John the Baptist was imprisoned by Herod Antipas and died.
Also in Roman times, some Essenes settled on the Dead Sea's western shore; Pliny the Elder identifies their location with the words, "on the west side of the Dead Sea, away from the coast ... [above] the town of Engeda" (Natural History, Bk 5.73); and it is therefore a hugely popular but contested hypothesis today, that same Essenes are identical with the settlers at Qumran and that "the Dead Sea Scrolls" discovered during the 20th century in the nearby caves had been their own library.
Various sects of Jews settled in caves overlooking the Dead Sea. The best known of these are the Essenes of Qumran, who left an extensive library known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. The town of Ein Gedi, mentioned many times in the Mishna, produced persimmon for the temple's fragrance and for export, using a secret recipe. "Sodomite salt" was an essential mineral for the temple's holy incense, but was said to be dangerous for home use and could cause blindness. The Roman camps surrounding Masada were built by Jewish slaves receiving water from the towns around the lake. These towns had drinking water from the Ein Feshcha springs and other sweetwater springs in the vicinity.
Intimately connected with the Judean wilderness to its northwest and west, the Dead Sea was a place of escape and refuge. The remoteness of the region attracted Greek Orthodox monks since the Byzantine era. Their monasteries, such as Saint George in Wadi Kelt and Mar Saba in the Judaean Desert, are places of pilgrimage.
In the 19th century the River Jordan and the Dead Sea were explored by boat primarily by Christopher Costigan in 1835, Thomas Howard Molyneux in 1847, William Francis Lynch in 1848, and John MacGregor in 1869. The full text of W. F. Lynch's 1949 book Narrative of the United States' Expedition to the River Jordan and the Dead Sea is available online. Charles Leonard Irby and James Mangles travelled along the shores of the Dead Sea already in 1817–18, but didn't navigate on its waters.
Explorers and scientists arrived in the area to analyze the minerals and research the unique climate.
After the find of the "Moabite Stone" in 1868 on the plateau east of the Dead Sea, Moses Wilhelm Shapira and his partner Salim al-Khouri forged and sold a whole range of presumed "Moabite" antiquities, and in 1883 Shapira presented what is now known as the "Shapira Strips", a supposedly ancient scroll written on leather strips which he claimed had been found near the Dead Sea. The strips were declared to be forgeries and Shapira took his own life in disgrace.
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, hundreds of religious documents dated between 150 BCE and 70 CE were found in caves near the ancient settlement of Qumran, about one mile (1.6 kilometres) inland from the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea (presently in the West Bank). They became known and famous as the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Israel has 15 hotels along the Dead Sea shore, generating total revenues of $291 million in 2012. Most Israeli hotels and resorts on the Dead Sea are on a six-kilometre (3.7-mile) stretch of the southern shore.
On the Jordanian side, nine international franchises have opened seaside resort hotels near the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Center, along with resort apartments, on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. The 9 hotels have boosted the Jordanian side's capacity to 2,800 rooms.
The Palestinian Dead Sea Coast is about 40 kilometres (25 miles) long. The World Bank estimates that a Palestinian Dead Sea tourism industry could generate $290 million of revenues per year and 2,900 jobs. However, Palestinians have been unable to obtain construction permits for tourism-related investments on the Dead Sea. According to the World Bank, Officials in the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities state that the only way to apply for such permits is through the Joint Committees established under the Oslo Agreement, but the relevant committee has not met with any degree of regularity since 2000.
In the early part of the 20th century, the Dead Sea began to attract interest from chemists who deduced the sea was a natural deposit of potash (potassium chloride) and bromine. The Palestine Potash Company was chartered in 1929, after its founder, Siberian Jewish engineer and pioneer of Lake Baikal exploitation, Moses Novomeysky, worked for the charter for over ten years having first visited the area in 1911. The first plant, on the north shore of the Dead Sea at Kalya, commenced production in 1931 and produced potash by solar evaporation of the brine. Employing Arabs and Jews, it was an island of peace in turbulent times. The company quickly grew into the largest industrial site in the Middle East, and in 1934 built a second plant on the southwest shore, in the Mount Sodom area, south of the 'Lashon' region of the Dead Sea. Palestine Potash Company supplied half of Britain's potash during World War II. Both plants were destroyed by the Jordanians in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.
The Dead Sea Works was founded in 1952 as a state-owned enterprise based on the remnants of the Palestine Potash Company. In 1995, the company was privatized and it is now owned by Israel Chemicals. From the Dead Sea brine, Israel produces (2001) 1.77 million tons potash, 206,000 tons elemental bromine, 44,900 tons caustic soda, 25,000 tons magnesium metal, and sodium chloride. Israeli companies generate around US$3 billion annually from the sale of Dead Sea minerals (primarily potash and bromine), and from other products that are derived from Dead Sea Minerals.
On the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea, Arab Potash (APC), formed in 1956, produces 2.0 million tons of potash annually, as well as sodium chloride and bromine. The plant is located at Safi, South Aghwar Department, in the Karak Governorate.
Jordanian Dead Sea mineral industries generate about $1.2 billion in sales (equivalent to 4 percent of Jordan's GDP).
The Palestinian Dead Sea Coast is about 40 kilometres (25 miles) long. The Palestinian economy is unable to benefit from Dead Sea chemicals due to restricted access, permit issues and the uncertainties of the investment climate. The World Bank estimates that a Palestinian Dead Sea chemicals industry could generate $918M incremental value added per year, "almost equivalent to the contribution of the entire manufacturing sector of Palestinian territories today".
Both companies, Dead Sea Works Ltd. and Arab Potash, use extensive salt evaporation pans that have essentially diked the entire southern end of the Dead Sea for the purpose of producing carnallite, potassium magnesium chloride, which is then processed further to produce potassium chloride. The ponds are separated by a central dike that runs roughly north-south along the international border. The power plant on the Israeli side allows production of magnesium metal (by a subsidiary, Dead Sea Magnesium Ltd.).
Due to the popularity of the sea's therapeutic and healing properties, several companies have also shown interest in the manufacturing and supplying of Dead Sea salts as raw materials for body and skin care products.
Since 1930, when its surface was 1,050 km2 (410 sq mi) and its level was 390 m (1,280 ft) below sea level, the Dead Sea has been monitored continuously. In recent decades, the Dead Sea has been rapidly shrinking because of diversion of incoming water from the Jordan River to the north. The southern end is fed by a canal maintained by the Dead Sea Works, a company that converts the sea's raw materials. From a water surface of 395 m (1,296 ft) below sea level in 1970 it fell 22 m (72 ft) to 418 m (1,371 ft) below sea level in 2006, reaching a drop rate of 1 m (3 ft) per year. As the water level decreases, the characteristics of the Sea and surrounding region may substantially change.
The Dead Sea level drop has been followed by a groundwater level drop, causing brines that used to occupy underground layers near the shoreline to be flushed out by freshwater. This is believed to be the cause of the recent appearance of large sinkholes along the western shore—incoming freshwater dissolves salt layers, rapidly creating subsurface cavities that subsequently collapse to form these sinkholes.
In May 2009 at the World Economic Forum, Jordan announced its plans to construct the "Jordan National Red Sea Development Project" (JRSP). This is a plan to convey seawater from the Red Sea near Aqaba to the Dead Sea. Water would be desalinated along the route to provide fresh water to Jordan, with the brine discharge sent to the Dead Sea for replenishment. Israel has expressed its support and will likely benefit from some of the water delivery to its Negev region.
At a regional conference in July 2009, officials expressed concern about the declining water levels. Some suggested industrial activities around the Dead Sea might need to be reduced. Others advised environmental measures to restore conditions such as increasing the volume of flow from the Jordan River to replenish the Dead Sea. Currently, only sewage and effluent from fish ponds run in the river's channel. Experts also stressed the need for strict conservation efforts. They said agriculture should not be expanded, sustainable support capabilities should be incorporated into the area and pollution sources should be reduced.
|Year||Water level (m)||Surface (km2)|
In October 2009, the Jordanians announced accelerated plans to extract around 300 million cubic metres (11 billion cubic feet) of water per year from the Red Sea, desalinate it for use as fresh water and send the waste water to the Dead Sea by tunnel, despite concerns about inadequate time to assess the potential environmental impact. According to Jordan's minister for water, General Maysoun Zu'bi, this project could be considered as the first phase of the Red Sea–Dead Sea Water Conveyance.
In December 2013, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority signed an agreement for laying a water pipeline to link the Red Sea with the Dead Sea. The pipeline will be 180 km (110 mi) long and is estimated to take up to five years to complete. In January 2015 it was reported that the level of water is now dropping by 1 m (3 ft) a year.
On 27 November 2016, it was announced that the Jordanian government is shortlisting five consortiums to implement the project. Jordan's ministry of Water and Irrigation said that the $100 million first phase of the project will begin construction in the first quarter of 2018, and will be completed by 2021.
It was named the “Dead Sea” because of the fact that no living thing can exist there, since the water is extremely salty and bitter.
Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, Limited (Hebrew: אהבה, Love) is an Israeli cosmetics company with headquarters in Lod that manufactures skin care products made of mud and mineral-based compounds from the Dead Sea. The company has flagship stores in Israel, Germany, Hungary, South Korea, the Philippines and Singapore. As of 2015, Ahava income was more than US$150 million a year. Ahava products have caused controversy, as critics say the company uses natural resources of occupied Palestinian territory, and that the products are incorrectly labeled as made in Israel. In 2015, the Chinese conglomerate Fosun International agreed to purchase a controlling share of the company, which has been valuated to ca. NIS 300 million ($77 million USD).The company's administrative headquarters are currently located in Holon, while the main manufacturing plant and showroom are in Mitzpe Shalem, an Israeli settlement and kibbutz located on the Dead Sea in the West Bank. However, as of 2016, they are vacating their Mitzpe Shalem factory in the West Bank and building a new factory on land leased by Kibbutz Ein Gedi.Arabah
The Arabah (Arabic: وادي عربة, Wādī ʻAraba), or Arava / Aravah (Hebrew: הָעֲרָבָה, HaAravah, lit. "desolate and dry area"), as it is known by its respective Arabic and Hebrew names, is a geographic area south of the Dead Sea basin, which forms part of the border between Israel to the west and Jordan to the east.
The old meaning, which was in use up to the early 20th century, covered almost the entire length of what today is called the Jordan Rift Valley, running in a north-south orientation between the southern end of the Sea of Galilee and the northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba at Aqaba/ Eilat. This included the Jordan River Valley between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea, the Dead Sea itself, and what today is commonly called the Arava Valley. The contemporary use of the term is restricted to this southern section alone.Copper Scroll
The Copper Scroll (3Q15) is one of the Dead Sea Scrolls found in Cave 3 near Khirbet Qumran, but differs significantly from the others. Whereas the other scrolls are written on parchment or papyrus, this scroll is written on metal: copper mixed with about 1 percent tin. Unlike the others, it is not a literary work, but a list of places where various items of gold and silver are buried or hidden. It differs from the other scrolls in its Hebrew (closer to the language of the Mishnah than to the literary Hebrew of the other scrolls, though 4QMMT shares some language characteristics), its orthography, palaeography (forms of letters) and date (c. 50–100 CE, possibly overlapping the latest of the other Qumran manuscripts).Since 2013, the Copper Scroll has been on display at the newly opened Jordan Museum in Amman after being moved from its previous home, the Jordan Archaeological Museum on Amman's Citadel Hill.
A new facsimile of the Copper Scroll by Facsimile Editions of London was announced as being in production in 2014.Dead Sea Scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls (also Qumran Caves Scrolls) are ancient Jewish religious, mostly Hebrew, manuscripts found in the Qumran Caves in the West Bank near the Dead Sea. Scholarly consensus dates these scrolls from the last three centuries BCE and the first century CE. The texts have great historical, religious, and linguistic significance because they include the second-oldest known surviving manuscripts of works later included in the Hebrew Bible canon, along with deuterocanonical and extra-biblical manuscripts which preserve evidence of the diversity of religious thought in late Second Temple Judaism. Almost all of the Dead Sea Scrolls collection is currently under the ownership of the Government of the state of Israel, and housed in the Shrine of the Book on the grounds of the Israel Museum.Ein Gedi
Ein Gedi (Hebrew: עֵין גֶּדִי), literally "spring of the kid (young goat)" is an oasis and a nature reserve in Israel, located west of the Dead Sea, near Masada and the Qumran Caves. Ein Gedi was listed in 2016 as one of the most popular nature sites in the country.Essenes
The Essenes (; Modern Hebrew: אִסִּיִים, Isiyim; Greek: Ἐσσηνοί, Ἐσσαῖοι, or Ὀσσαῖοι, Essenoi, Essaioi, Ossaioi) were a Jewish sect during the Second Temple period which flourished from the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century CE.
The Jewish historian Josephus records that Essenes existed in large numbers, and thousands lived throughout Roman Judaea, but they were fewer in number than the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the other two major sects at the time. The Essenes lived in various cities but congregated in communal life dedicated to voluntary poverty, daily immersion, and asceticism (their priestly class practiced celibacy). Most scholars claim they seceded from the Zadokite priests.The Essenes have gained fame in modern times as a result of the discovery of an extensive group of religious documents known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are commonly believed to be the Essenes' library. These documents preserve multiple copies of parts of the Hebrew Bible untouched from possibly as early as 300 BCE until their discovery in 1946. Most scholars dispute the notion that the Essenes wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls. Rachel Elior questions even the existence of the Essenes.The first reference to the sect is by the Roman writer Pliny the Elder (died c. 79 CE) in his Natural History. Pliny relates in a few lines that the Essenes possess no money, had existed for thousands of generations, and that their priestly class (“contemplatives”) do not marry. Unlike Philo, who did not mention any particular geographical location of the Essenes other than the whole land of Israel, Pliny places them somewhere above Ein Gedi, next to the Dead Sea.
Josephus later gave a detailed account of the Essenes in The Jewish War (c. 75 CE), with a shorter description in Antiquities of the Jews (c. 94 CE) and The Life of Flavius Josephus (c. 97 CE). Claiming firsthand knowledge, he lists the Essenoi as one of the three sects of Jewish philosophy alongside the Pharisees and the Sadducees. He relates the same information concerning piety, celibacy, the absence of personal property and of money, the belief in communality, and commitment to a strict observance of Sabbath. He further adds that the Essenes ritually immersed in water every morning, ate together after prayer, devoted themselves to charity and benevolence, forbade the expression of anger, studied the books of the elders, preserved secrets, and were very mindful of the names of the angels kept in their sacred writings.
Pliny, also a geographer, located them in the desert near the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.Gerald Lankester Harding
Gerald Lankester Harding (8 December 1901 – 11 February 1979) was a British archaeologist who was the Director of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan from 1936 to 1956. His tenure spanned the period in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered and brought to public awareness. Without his efforts many of the scrolls might have disappeared into private collections never to be seen again.Great Salt Lake
The Great Salt Lake, located in the northern part of the U.S. state of Utah, is the largest salt water lake in the Western Hemisphere, and the eighth-largest terminal lake in the world. In an average year the lake covers an area of around 1,700 square miles (4,400 km2), but the lake's size fluctuates substantially due to its shallowness. For instance, in 1963 it reached its lowest recorded size at 950 square miles (2,460 km²), but in 1988 the surface area was at the historic high of 3,300 square miles (8,500 km2). In terms of surface area, it is the largest lake in the United States that is not part of the Great Lakes region.
The lake is the largest remnant of Lake Bonneville, a prehistoric pluvial lake that once covered much of western Utah. The three major tributaries to the lake, the Jordan, Weber, and Bear rivers together deposit around 1.1 million tons of minerals in the lake each year. As it is endorheic (has no outlet besides evaporation), it has very high salinity (far saltier than seawater) and its mineral content is steadily increasing. Due to the high density resulting from its mineral content, swimming in the Great Salt Lake is similar to floating. Its shallow, warm waters cause frequent, sometimes heavy lake-effect snows from late fall through spring.
Although it has been called "America's Dead Sea", the lake provides habitat for millions of native birds, brine shrimp, shorebirds, and waterfowl, including the largest staging population of Wilson's phalarope in the world.Géza Vermes
Géza Vermes, (Hungarian pronunciation: [ˈvɛrmɛʃ ˈɡeːzɒ]; 22 June 1924 – 8 May 2013) was a British academic, Bible scholar, and Judaist of Hungarian Jewish origin—one who also served as a Catholic priest in his youth—and writer on history of religion, particularly Judaism and early Christianity. He wrote about the Dead Sea Scrolls and ancient works in Aramaic such as the Targumim, and on the life and religion of Jesus. He was one of the most important voices in contemporary Jesus research, and he has been described as the greatest Jesus scholar of his time. Vermes' written work on Jesus focuses principally on Jesus the Jew, as seen in the broader context of the narrative scope of Jewish history and theology, while questioning and challenging the basis of the Christian doctrine on Jesus.John M. Allegro
John Marco Allegro (17 February 1923 – 17 February 1988) was an English archaeologist and Dead Sea Scrolls scholar. He was a populariser of the Dead Sea Scrolls through his books and radio broadcasts. He was the editor of some of the most famous and controversial scrolls published, the pesharim. A number of Allegro's later books, including The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross, brought him both popular fame and notoriety, and also destroyed his career.Jordan Rift Valley
The Jordan Rift Valley, often just Jordan Valley (Hebrew: בִּקְעָת הַיַרְדֵּן Bik'at HaYarden, Arabic: الغور Al-Ghor or Al-Ghawr), also called the Syro-African Depression, is an elongated depression located in modern-day Israel, Jordan, and Palestine. This geographic region includes the entire length of the Jordan River – from its sources, through the Hula Valley, the Korazim block, the Sea of Galilee, the (Lower) Jordan Valley, all the way to the Dead Sea, the lowest land elevation on Earth – and then continues through the Arabah depression, the Gulf of Aqaba whose shorelines it incorporates, until finally reaching the Red Sea proper at the Straits of Tiran.Jordan River
The Jordan River or River Jordan (Hebrew: נְהַר הַיַּרְדֵּן, Nahar ha-Yarden; Classical Syriac: ܢܗܪܐ ܕܝܘܪܕܢܢ, Arabic: نَهْر الْأُرْدُنّ, Nahr al-Urdunn; Ancient Greek: Ιορδάνης, Iordànes) is a 251-kilometre-long (156 mi) river in the Middle East that flows roughly north to south through the Sea of Galilee (Hebrew: כנרת Kinneret, Arabic: Bohayrat Tabaraya, meaning Lake of Tiberias) and on to the Dead Sea. Jordan and the Golan Heights border the river to the east, while the West Bank and Israel lie to its west. Both Jordan and the West Bank take their names from the river.
The river has a major significance in Judaism and Christianity since many believe that the Israelites crossed it into the Promised Land and that Jesus of Nazareth was baptised by John the Baptist in it.Masoretic Text
The Masoretic Text (MT or 𝕸) is the authoritative Hebrew and Aramaic text of the 24 books of Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism. It is not the original text (Urtext) of the Hebrew Bible: Urtext has never been found.It was primarily copied, edited and distributed by a group of Jews known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries of the Common Era (CE).
The oldest extant manuscripts date from around the 9th century. The Aleppo Codex (once the oldest-known complete copy but now missing the Torah) dates from the 10th century. The Masoretic Text defines the Jewish canon and its precise letter-text, with its vocalization and accentuation known as the Masorah.
The ancient Hebrew word mesorah (מסורה, alt. מסורת) broadly refers to the whole chain of Jewish tradition (see Oral law), which is claimed (by Orthodox Judaism) to be unchanged and infallible. Referring to the Masoretic Text, mesorah specifically means the diacritic markings of the text of the Hebrew Scriptures and the concise marginal notes in manuscripts (and later printings) of the Tanakh which note textual details, usually about the precise spelling of words.
Modern scholars seeking to understand the history of the Tanakh’s text use a range of sources other than the Masoretic Text. These include early Greek (Septuagint) and Syriac (Peshitta) translations, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Dead Sea Scrolls and quotations from rabbinic manuscripts. Most of these are older than the oldest surviving Masoretic text and often contradict it. Which of the three commonly known versions (Septuagint, Masoretic Text, Samaritan Pentateuch) is closest to the original text (Urtext) is not fully determined.) The Dead Sea Scrolls have shown the Masoretic Text to be nearly identical in consonant text to some texts of the Tanakh dating from 200 [BCE] but different from others. Although the consonants of the Masoretic Text differ little from the text generally accepted in the early 2nd century (and also differ little from some Qumran texts that are even older), it has many differences of both greater and lesser significance when compared to the manuscripts of the Septuagint, a Greek translation (about 1000 years older than the MT made in the 3rd to 2nd centuries BCE) of the Hebrew Scriptures that was in popular use by Jews in Egypt and the Holy Land (and matches the quotations in the New Testament of Christianity, especially by Paul the Apostle). A recent finding of a short Leviticus fragment, recovered from the ancient En-Gedi Scroll, carbon-dated to the 3rd or 4th century AD, is completely identical with the Masoretic Text.The Masoretic Text was used as the basis for translations of the Old Testament in Protestant Bibles such as the King James Version and American Standard Version and (after 1943) for some versions of Catholic Bibles, replacing the Vulgate translation, although the Vulgate had itself already been revised in light of the Masoretic text in the 1500s.Pesher
Pesher ( (listen); Hebrew: פשר, pl. pesharim from a Hebrew word meaning "interpretation," is a group of interpretive commentaries on scripture. The Pesharim commentaries became known from the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The pesharim give a theory of scriptural interpretation of a number of biblical texts from the Old Testament, such as Habakkuk and Psalms. The authors of pesharim believe that scripture is written in two levels: the surface for ordinary readers with limited knowledge, and the concealed one for specialists with higher knowledge. This is most clearly spelled out in the Habakkuk Pesher (1QpHab), where the author of the text asserts that God has made known to the Teacher of Righteousness, a prominent figure in the history of the Essene community, "all the mysteries of his servants the prophets" (1QpHab VII:4-5). By contrast, the prophets, and other readers of the texts, only had a partial interpretation revealed to them.
The result of this pesher method creates a fixed-literary structure, which is seen most in the continuous Pesharim, with the goal of giving the plain meaning of the prophets words.Psalm 151
Psalm 151 is a short psalm found in most copies of the Septuagint but not in the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible. The title given to this psalm in the Septuagint indicates that it is supernumerary, and no number is affixed to it: "This Psalm is ascribed to David and is outside the number. When he slew Goliath in single combat". It is also included in some manuscripts of the Peshitta. The psalm concerns the story of David and Goliath.
The Eastern Orthodox Church as well as the Coptic Orthodox Church, Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian Catholic Church accept Psalm 151 as canonical. Roman Catholics, Protestants, and most Jews consider it apocryphal. However, it is found in an appendix in some Catholic Bibles, such as certain editions of the Latin Vulgate, as well as in some ecumenical translations, such as the New Revised Standard Version.
Psalm 151 is cited once in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Breviary, as a responsory of the series from the books of Kings, the second in the Roman Breviary, together with 1 Kings 17:37 in a slightly different text from the Vulgate.Psalms 152–155
Psalms 152 to 155 are additional Psalms found in two Syriac biblical manuscripts to date and several manuscripts of Elias of al-Anbar's "Book of Discipline". Together with Psalm 151 they are also called the Five Apocryphal Psalms of David.Qumran
Qumran (Hebrew: קומראן; Arabic: خربة قمران Khirbet Qumran) is an archaeological site in the West Bank managed by Israel's Qumran National Park. It is located on a dry marl plateau about 1.5 km (1 mi) from the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, near the Israeli settlement and kibbutz of Kalya. The Hellenistic period settlement was constructed during the reign of John Hyrcanus (134–104 BCE) or somewhat later, and was occupied most of the time until it was destroyed by the Romans in 68 CE or shortly after. It is best known as the settlement nearest to the Qumran Caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were hidden, caves in the sheer desert cliffs and beneath, in the marl terrace. The principal excavations at Qumran were conducted by Roland de Vaux in the 1950s, though several later unearthings at the site have since been carried out.Qumran Caves
Qumran Caves are a series of caves, some natural, some artificial, found around the archaeological site of Qumran in the Judaean Desert of the West Bank. It is in these caves that the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. The caves are recognized in Israel as a National Heritage Site, despite the caves being in occupied Palestinian territories; as such, the designation has drawn criticism.Roland de Vaux
Father Roland Guérin de Vaux OP (17 December 1903 – 10 September 1971) was a French Dominican priest who led the Catholic team that initially worked on the Dead Sea Scrolls. He was the director of the Ecole Biblique, a French Catholic Theological School in East Jerusalem, and he was charged with overseeing research on the scrolls. His team excavated the ancient site of Khirbet Qumran (1951–1956) as well as several caves near Qumran northwest of the Dead Sea. The excavations were led by Ibrahim El-Assouli, caretaker of the Palestine Archaeological Museum, or what came to be known as the Rockefeller Museum in East Jerusalem.