Sunday, January 17, 2010

Masada, the Dead Sea, and Dead Sea Scrolls

I spent today outside of Jerusalem with a professional tour guide visiting Masada, some sights near the dead sea, and a couple of spots near Jerusalem. Here's the desert part of the tour...

My guide Dani picked me up at the hotel at 830 and we drove about an hour or so out to the desert site of Masada. He usually leads large groups so today was a relatively easy day for him I hope. Here's a picture of Masada from the road coming in:

If you remember your history and religion classes, what we now consider Masada was built by the oh-so-pleasant King Herod (the guy who had John the Baptist's head cut off) as his middle-age Ferrari of the time. He used it as a winter house and to impress his buds. Everything about it was done to be ostentatious; the fresh-water baths, the saunas, the Roman style, and so on.

The darker side of Masada was the battle fought between the locals and the Roman Empire back in the first century. As the siege took its toll and it became obvious that they would lose, the townspeople decided it would be better to die than surrender and ended up killing themselves. Almost no one was found alive once the Romans entered the fortress.

To get to the top, you take a cable car up and you can walk all over the top of the mountain. It's a very impressive place. Here's a photo of some of the store rooms with the Dead Sea in the back to the left:

We then drove over to a Dead Sea public swimming beach. The sea is about 1000 feet below sea level. The blue-green color of the water was amazing as was the build up of salt along the shore. From what I was told, it is something like 15-times more salty than the ocean. For the record, here's a photo of me in front of the Dead Sea (no, I didn't swim):

Our next stop was the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. The Rosetta-Stone of religions were hidden in various caves around the area. Here's one of the caves:

It was warm and very, very, very, very, very dry out there. After washing your hands, you don't need to dry them because you can really feel and watch the water evaporate off your skin. I ended up drinking almost two liters of water in about 5 hours. Amazing.

1 comment:

  1. Hef misses his bud, Herod. They partied it up pimpin style.


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