The Dead Sea

The body of water known as the Dead Sea has also been called the Salt Sea and the Asphalt Sea, among other names dating to antiquity. It is the lowest point on Earth – currently close to 1400 feet (422 meters) below sea level. The surface of the sea has been dropping for years due to diminished flow from its primary source, the Jordan River. There is no river outflow from the Dead Sea. Water is lost only from evaporation.

The unique saline/mineral content of the water has long been considered healthy for body and skin. In Roman times, people regarded the Dead Sea as something of a health resort or spa. Some ancient cosmetics included Dead Sea minerals because of their beneficial effects.

Several modern cosmetics industries continue to utilize Dead Sea minerals in various skin and hair products. People with troublesome skin conditions find relief from applying Dead Sea mud to their skin and from swimming in its waters. (The Dead Sea waters are very warm, almost like a hot tub.) While the region is quite hot in the summer, the air is generally pollution-free. I was told during my recent excavation trip that some European health plans provide coverage for medically-recommended Dead Sea visits.

Popular sites along the Dead Sea include Qumran (an Essene settlement in the 1st century B.C./A.D.), En Gedi and Masada.


The unusual salinity makes the water highly buoyant. One simply floats on the surface with no effort. It is not a good idea, however, to submerse one's head. Crusty salt residue in the eyes, ears, nose and mouth can be irritating, even painful.


The southern portion of the Dead Sea has been partitioned by man-made dikes that facilitate the collection of salt, other minerals and chemicals from the water. This photo, taken near a dike, clearly shows salt accumulation on the water surface. The brown feature running horizontally across the upper half of the photo is one of the dikes.


About LukeChandler

Luke holds an M.A. in Ancient and Classical History and has been an adjunct professor at Florida College in Temple Terrace, Florida. Luke and his wife Melanie have five children. He serves as a minister in English and Spanish with the North Terrace Church of Christ and participates annually in archaeological excavations in Israel. Luke also leads tours to Europe and the Bible Lands.
This entry was posted in Interesting places to visit, Israel, Short videos, Travel and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Dead Sea

  1. afrankangle says:

    Another great mix of science and history. Well done.

  2. Pingback: En Gedi – David’s Dead Sea Hideout with its Waterfalls « Luke Chandler's Blog

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