Dead Sea, Masada & Qumran

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Cave at Qumran where Dead Sea Scrolls were found

Measuring more than 1400 feet below sea level, the Dead Sea is the lowest spot on Earth. This journey includes the sites of Qumran where the famous Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, Masada and finally a dip in the Dead Sea to finish the day.

Qumran was where a monastic order of Jewish men broke off from society in the 1st century BCE. They kept their most sacred object, their library hidden in caves. Due to the dry climate these scrolls would be preserved for eternity until a young Arab shepherd discovered the cache in 1947. We can explore the site and see how they lived.

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Taking a selfie with a group atop Masada. I guess I am too tall for some people.

Next up is the world famous UNESCO World Heritage site where a band of Jewish rebels fought the Roman Empire. Built by Herod the Great as a refuge in the desert, 100 years later a group of Jews took it during the Great Revolt in the 1st century CE. If we have time, we can visit the new museum which displays some of the objects found at the site, including papyrus parchments.

We will take the cable car up to the top and look down at some of the Roman siege camps, the best preserved in the world! Atop the mountain, we can walk through the palaces of Herod. We will talk about the Rebels who lived here and their legacy. We may even see some left over props from the 1981 American miniseries which was made about the site starring Peter O’Toole. The views in any direction are breathtaking!

 

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The salt banks of the Dead Sea

We end the day by finally getting into the Dead Sea for a quick dip. The salt content of the water is roughly 35% or 10 times saltier than the ocean. Remember not to shave that day! The salt water has curative effects according to studies and the area has been frequented by visitors since the time of Herod for this purpose.