By Dr. Oumeish Youssef Oumeish
Driven by historical and religious quests, attracted by its curative secrets, and spell-bound by the sunset touchings its surrounding hills with ribbons of fire across of its salty waters; I took a journey to the lowest point on earth, 1300 feet below sea level to the Dead Sea, one of nature’s most exquisite creations, an intriguing unique place with rich history evokes in me a sense of mystery. After all this is the site of the mysterious Biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah the Twin cities of SIn, destroyed at their location to the Northwest of the Lisan Peninsula at the Southern extremity of the present-day North Basin of the Dead Sea, and sank in the dark depths of the sea waters. The Dead Sea is also the site of the three other Biblical cities of Admah, Zebouin and Zoar.
The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah according to a geotechnical perspective study, was believed to be the consequence of a seismic event which led to liquefaction of the alluvial plain constituting the legendary Vale of Siddim. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were lost beneath the waters of the NOrth Basin as a consequence. As described by the Genesis book of the Old Testament: “Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on SOdom and Gomorrah – from the Lord out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities – and also the vegetation in the Land. Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace. So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived”. Before the destruction, “the Lord said to Lot: I will not overthrow the town you speak of, but flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it” (that is why the town Lot fled to was called Zoar). On pulling around the shores of the Dead Sea one can see an immense column, rounded and turret-shaped, facing the South East on Mount Sedom (Jebel Usudom). This is due we believe, to the transformation of Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt as she was encased at the overthrow of Sodom, after she disobeyed God’s warning not to look back when fled to Sodom. As it was described by lynch and Montague (1849), it is a lofty round pillar, standing apparently detached from the general mass, at the head on a deep, narrow and abrupt chasm. The pillar was found to be solid salt, capped with carbon of lime, cylindrical in front and pyramidal behind.
It was measured and found to be sixty feet in height, and forty five feet in circumference. Of course we cannot suppose Lot’s wife was a person so large that her dimensions equalled those of this column. The location of Lot’s sanctuary is believed to be in the Safi area, and for decades, guided by the Madaba mosaic map of Palestine, which pointed to the existence of such a site, archaelogists have searched for ancient Zoar, one of the FIve Biblical cities where Lot fled to. According to the book of Genesis, it is believed that Lot and his two daughters were afraid to stay in Zoar, and settled in the mountains and have sought refuge in a cave after God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and that cave lies on a hill by a tiny spring, overlooking the Dead Sea.
To reach this unique and enchanting lowest spot on earth, visitors can enjoy crossing the historic Jordan Rift Valley route, marvelling at the varied glory of God’s nature, a journey of 30 km. West of Amman, and almost 45 km. East of Jerusalem, with steep slopes, descending through fascinating winding highways overlooking the superb view of the Jordan Valley. En route, a stone marker indicates “Sea Level”, but the Dead Sea itself is not reached before descending another 400 meters.
In ancient time, the Jordan Valley was one of the most fertile places in the Middle East, and some of the Wrold’s oldest civilizations sprang from this soil. Today a vast netwrok of dams, and canals irrigate the region with many farms, green houses, and active housing projects. The Jordan Valley is subtropical in its weather, and looks like a natural garden. Driving through the valley in spring, one can see all kinds of flowers, vegetables and fruits trees, and can smell the enchanting aroma of the white blossoms of citrous trees. One can also capture the colours and scent of a valley, poised on the threshold of a new era; thus appreciating the achievements of the present and remenescing the glories of the past.
A few kilometres before reaching the Dead Sea shores, one drives through the small village of “Sweimeh”, surrounded with some desert hills, sand spits, and arid land. Inhabitants of this village resemble negros in their colouring, and have been fashioned by the severe conditions of hot, dry and salty weather, and able to live.
As the name suggest, the sea is devoid of life except for a few kinds of salt deposits algae, which is due to an extremely high content of salts and minerals. But these natural salt and mineral elements, plus the black mud which is rich in Bitumen (The Natural Tar) found on the shores of the sea only with the dry sunny atmosphere rich and bromine, give the Dead Sea its curative powers as has been mentioned in the Bible and recognized by King Herod the Great who came down to the Dead Sea seeking relief for the body and rest for the soul more than 2,000 years ago.
The Dead Sea has historical, geographical and spiritual legacy of its own. It is located in the Dead Sea Rift, extending North to South along with Wadi Araba, and the Jordan River. All three of them form successive parts of the Great North-South-El-Ghor Rift Valley, which formed part of a great rift that extended from Syria to the northern most part of the East African-Red-Sea-Levantine Rift, about 6,000 km. The Red Sea started to form late in the Cretaceous period and continued as a wide shallow trough until the Miocene period, when a new phase of opening took place and the central trough of the Read Sea as well as the Jordan Rift started to form. The Jordan Valley by itself forms part of the Jordan-Arava Rift Valley which runs in a South-North direction from the Gulf of Aqaba up to the foothills of the Hermon Range. The Valley, and the area to the North of the Dead Sea, are divided into three parts: The Southern Jordan Valley extend to about 50 km. North of the Dead Sea, and its floor consists of the Lisan Formation, the Central part, which extends to the Northern shore of lake Tiberias, the relatively small Northern part of the Valley consists largely of the Huleh Basin, a basaltic barrier, through which the Jordan river cuts its way, separating the Huleh Basin from lake Tiberias. The formation of the Jordan rift is accepted now on the hypothesis of the horizontal tectonics or the strike-slip movement (plate tectonics). According to this hypothesis, the Arabian plate (including the Arabian Peninsula, Jordan, Syria and Iraq) has moved 107 km. relative to the Sinai microplate (including Sinai, Palestine, Lebanon and Northwest of Syria). This movement took place along the Jordan Rift, and started forming at some time in the Miocene period, during which it was occupied by water bodies (lakes) of various sizes and salinities. The Jordan Valley has profound meaning for religious travelers, tourists and natives, and the Jordan River is known as the place where Jesus Christ was baptised and where John the Baptist lived.
The Dead Sea is an interesting phenomenon in regard to its geographical location, altitude, water geophysics and the warm sunny weather which prevails most of the days of the year. It is amazing to note that one can swim in the Dead Sea in winter it might be snowing in Amman half an hour drive from the sea. It is normally as calm as a mill pond, with barely a small wave disturbing its surface. During most days of the year, however, the sea water surface under a beating dry sun. The rocks meet its lapping edges, they become snow like, covered with thick gleaming white deposits that give the area a strange, surreal sense like that of another world. Salt formations along the Dead Sea shore with the algae growing on the crumbling rocks look exactly like mushrooms.
The Dead Sea is the World’s saltiest lake where its salinity reaches 290 gm/L., compared to that of the Red Sea with salinity of only 40 gm/L., and Utah’s Great Salt Lake which is around 100. The principal factor in the cure of diseases especially skin, and in particular psoriasis and eczema, comes from the naturally filtered ultraviolet radiation, which is greater i UVA (long wave) and very low in UVB (middle wave) portion of the spectrum compared to other locations; this permits a prolonged exposure to the sunlight with minimal phototoxicity and photodamage to the skin. This effect is due to the thick atmospheric layer over the Dead Sea with its vapour and haze, and to the great amount of ozone layer which is minimally depleted compared to other areas, and also to the low humidity and warm climate year round.
Exposure to sunlight to treat different ailments and skin conditions and the use of natural health spas has been known for thousands of years. There are many health spas, and clinics, and thermal baths, around the world offering a wide range of natural treatments that may be combined with a relaxing vacation. Many of these centres are used simply for restoring health. European countries have a 2000-year tradition of spa treatment. The former Soviet Union alone had 3,500 spas. All over the world there are thousands of people who take natural spa therapy as part of their daily life.
Exposure to sunlight, the use of mineral-spring water and mud were alsoknwon for treatment of psoriasis for many decades, and they showed marked improvement of cases with a longer delay of relapses and a lesser need to use medications such as corticosteriods and eventually few side effects and a much less expensive method of treatment. Climatological and balneological therapies recognized as natural spa treatments by patients, physicians and dermatologists, have led to the use of artificial-light palors as U.V.A, and U.V.B, and later to photochemotherapy (PUVA) which means th euse of oral medications like soralenes plus exposure to UVA with possible side effects and hazards. The Dead Sea is one of the most famous sites for such type of climatotherapy, it is the lowets point on Earth, and the wortd’s saltiets lake, with its natural elements and minerals in addition to the mud present on its shores, as well as the filtered ultraviolet radation, give the sea its curative powers.
The Dead Sea Spa Treatment Centers in Israel at (Ein Bokek) were established more than 20 years ago and have attracted thousands of patients, mainly from the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Germany, The United Kingdom, South Africa and America, in addition to patients coming from inside Israel. Most patients seek therapy for skin diseases and in particular psoriasis, in addition to other diseases like bronchial asthma, emphysema and arthritis.
The Dead Sea Spa Treatment Centre at the Salt Land Village was opened in Jordan in July 1991, and since then thousands of patients recieved cllimatotherapy at the centre, which is only 25 km. west of Amman. Most the patients are from Western Europe, and neighbouring Mid-Eastern countries, as well as locals.
It is anticipated that peace process between Jordan and Israel will create active cooperation, vilateral and regional studies, research, eventually promoting health tourism in many areas, encouraging the establishment of many hotels and wellness health centres, espicially in the Dead Sea area. It is also expexted to initiate new projects some of which willbe huge. But the most important project (which is still under study) is the Dead-Red-Sea-Canal which is aimed at increasing the level of the Dead Sea water which is endangered by continuous and increased evaporation. It is also meant to generate huge electrical energy which will benefit different countires in the region, and develop the area by creating lakes and oasis to attract tourists, thus generating new jobs for thousands of people. It is also expected to increase the size of production of salts and minerals from the Dead Sea, which is the richest sources of minerals in the world, and contians over 43 bilion tons of salts. The Dead Sea industrrial projects include the production of fertelizers and materials used to produce soil fumigants, pesticides, flame tetardants, metals and detergents. The projects also will promote the present chemical pharmaceutical and medicated cosmetics industirs by using the elements of water, minerals and mud of the sea. These products have a world reputation as the miracle of the Dead Sea and the luxury and elegance of natural health and beautyproducts by nature and brought to us from the bottom of the world’s oldest and lowest store.
History and Geography of the Dead Sea:
The Dead Sea is located in the Dead Sea RIft, and it is as old as the history of Jordan,Palestine, and Israel, and was mentioned in the Holy Koran and in the Old Testament, and described by both Greek and Arabs and given many names: Sedom, Dragon, Araba, Asphilt, and Lot Sea (Lot: the Nephew of Abraham, who lived in Sodom and Gomorrah). The Dead Sea, according to geological and archaeological studies, is believed to be as old as 280 million years. It is geographically ddivided into two lakes; The northern lake comprises 76% of the whole sea with a maximum depth of 360 meters, a depth that used to be 400 meters deep 100 yeras ago; and the southern lake comprising 24% and 10 meters deep. The two lakes are separated by the Lisan Island, which resulted mainly by the continuous receeding of water due to marked evaporation and drought that started thousands of years ago and increased in the early 19th century: the total length of the sea is 52 km., and the width ranges from 12 to 17 km., the total surface area is 1000 sq.km. The north lake has many advantages, as it retains more sunlight by nearly half an hour, and as it faces east, the sunset is delayed, it is also wider and more open, with deeper waters compared with that of the south lake. The northern Dead Sea has a narrow coastal shelf, which later gives way to hills pluging directly into the sea. The southern Dead Sea has evaporating areas, with canals that lead to pools where sea is evaporated in ponds, for the extraction of potassium and bromine, and from there one can notice thae Moab mountains visible on the horizon, near the shore and where the salty dry land meet receeding Dead Sea. Jordan and Israel have started a successful Potash (POT-ASH) production. The term is derived from the early method of producing potassium carbonate from wood ash boiled in pots. The process, known as leaching is to run water slowly through the ashes of burned wood. The solution is then boiled in huge pots, leaving behind a mass of white solid known as POTASH SALT. More than 90% of the Potash produced in the world is used for fertilizers. It is one of the three-key ingredients in the production of fertilizers, which in turn is vital to meet growing food requirements. The old ide of Potash production remained, but new plant was established and production began in 1983, and this was expand in the mid eighties and modified with the solar system to enhance the production. A second plant based on more advanced technology and with more capacity was built in 1993. The process of Potash production commences at the brine untake pumping station located on the Lisan Peninsula, to a gravity flow brine canal, then flows before it reaches the salt pond, where high evaporation occurs, and sodium chloride is deposited, and at the end of the salt pond, the brine is transfered to the precarnallite pond, by gravity flow. Further processing steps lead to Carnallite production. The following steps include: harvesting, processing, product dewatering, drying, screening and compaction. With the new cold crystallization plant, the plant steps are: carnallite receiving, flotation, crystallization, leaching, processing, drying and screening.
The Jordan River is the main source of the water feeding into the Dead Sea; and for thousands of years, fresh and mineral water from Jordan and in particular Moabian Mountains and also the hills on the outskirts of Jerusalem and Jerisho carrying dissolved salts from rocks, sand and soils, have flowed south to the Jordan Rift valley into the Dead Sea. In addition to rain, other water sources including water from valleys and small Jordanian streams mainly Zarka, Mai’n, Wadi Bin-Hammad and Wadi El-Hassa. The area of the watershed that feeds the Dead Sea is about 400,000 sq.km., and it is called the Dead Sea catchment area. The inflowing water evaporates, leaving salts and mineral sediments to accumulate in the lake.
The region surroounding the Dead Sea contains rocks that and according to the many geological studies, are around 500 million years old; and these rocks were formed in two stages:
(1) The Pre-rifting formations period, which formed before the Dead Sea and Jordan Ghor Valley, coincided with the Middle Cambrian Century, with different types of rocks which included Shale, Cruziana and Trace Fossils. It also coincided with the Upper Cambrian Century with its Massive Brownish Weathered Sandstones and Triassic rocks, and also included both the Lower and upper Creataceus where Losber Eocene, and Hosb rocks formation which is called (Hotzeva) in Hebrew, that occured during the last 26 million years.
(2) The Post-rift formations began less than 26 million years ago, when the mountains of Jordan and Palestine were one unit with no valley separating them at that time. During that period the rock salts and water started to form in many stages and locations and in a chronological mannar as follows:
(A) Usdim formation; with deposition of rock salts and some layers of Carnallite, in addition to the exchange of waters between the old site of Jordan Rift and the Mediterranean Sea, which was documented by finding deposits of Mugil Priscus Fish, and the formation of (Foothill) and (Hamarmar) as it is named in Hebrew.
(B) Shagur formation; and this can be noticed nowadays as large ball like stone deposits, present on both sides of the road giong from the Dead Sea to Jerusalem. DUring this stage, many rocks were geologically recognized as Melanopsis of Praemorsa Lennel, Trichia, Porretia, Ostracoda, and Plant Remnants of (Palm trees), and it is believed that such rocks were formed by fresh waters which were present in that location.
(C) Ghor el Katar formation; and most of the rocks ormed were of sand and clay stones, and thought to be of a volcanic origin which is believed to have happened in Ghor el Katar long time ago and resulted in the destruction of these rocks and their transformation into sand and clay.
(D) Kufringa Gravels; which was the Middle Pleistocene century where Kufringa Gravels, and Naharayim, and Abu Habil sites were formed. At these locations, some tools which were used by the first man who lived in that area were found.
(E) Samra formation; which is 6 km. North-East of Jericho, where layers of Oolitic made of Chert Sand and characterized by cross bedding are present. Many geologists confirmed the theory that there was a fresh water lake in the Rift Valley called Samra Lake, extending 190 km. from Beisan city to Ein El Hosob, which is South of the Dead Sea, where fish was living in that lake.
It wa also believed that there were many lakes in Smara, but as the weather in that area started to change from dry to humid, heavy rains contributed to the formation of the lakes, added to that was the inflow to the area of streams water.
(F) Lisan stage; during this period, a huge lake of 275 km. length and 17 km. width and 200 meters depth, was formed in the present area both of the Dead Sea and Jordan Valley and was called Lisan Lake and was larger than Usdom, Smara lakes, and even the present Dead Sea.
(G) Damya formation; during this stage a period of very dry weathre was dominating that area which ended up with the evaporation of water of the Dead Sea-Rift.
(H) Dead Sea formation stage; there were many theories based on geological studies which explain the history of the Dead Sea formation, this included the flowing into the region of salty and fresh water with other elements, in addition to the geological tension movements which led into both the transverse and other border faults, which eventually led to the creation of a deep rift. This rift was surrounded by mountians on both sides, in addition to the deposition of salts, followed by more fresh water that flowed into the rift due to the high humidity of the atmosphere which prevailed during the Lisan and Samra periods. In another analysis, the Dead Sea was only the North Basin, and it was nothing but a Sink Hole in the salts of Usdom Stage and then dissolved in water in one of the stages that provided the rift valley with fresh water when there was a high humidity which happened sometime ago.
The natural curative factors atthe Dead Sea area are many and they include first of all the climate; the biometeorological conditions of the Dead Sea area are unique in many ways. The Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth and it was measured in 1996 to be around 405 meters (1328 feet), below sea level. The temperatures of the area are high year round with an annual average of 30.4r C (86.7F), compared to the Miditerranean Sea temperature, which is 11.2r C (52.1F), as annual average. The Humidity is low with an annual average ranging between 35% and 54%, leading to dry weather, and little rainfall, with an annual average of 104.6mm., compared to other areas in Jordan and Israel, which reach to almost 600 – 800 mm. There are also about 333 sunny days a year, with an average daily sunshine duration of 8.7 hours.
The atmosphere over the Dead Sea is rich in oxygen, 10% more than any other sea, and in both Jordan and Israel; and this high oxygen level is useful for breathing and for extrametabolic body activity. The atmosphere is rich in bromine, about 15 times more than over Jordan and Israel, which has a relaxing and sedative effect on the nervous system and the body.
Atmospheric-ozone studies carried out by the Metereological Department in Jordan in October, 1991 showed that the ozone is located in an atmospheric layer that extends 20-35 km. above the Dead Sea surface, with the highest point of concentration at 25 km., where the concentration reaches 400 micrograms/meter, and with a relative specific gravity of 1.7 part per million (ppm). This concentration becomes less in the spring. The depletion of ozone layer, which appeared in 1982 due to chloroflurocarbon products and caused the creation of a hole above the South Pole (where the conentration of ozone depleted by 50%), as well as in many areas around the world, in different degrees did not occur over the Dead Sea as it is estimated to be only around 3%.
The sunlight, is the the principal natural curative factor in the Dead Sea region, and studies if U.V. radiation at the Dead Sea have shown that there is more U.V.A. radiation there than elsewhere. The high atmospheric density and pressure with its high ozone layers and high evaporation haze, all function as excellent natural filtration media for the U.V. spectrum. As a result, the shorter U.V.B. rays (290-320nm = nanometers) are more defracted at 400 meters below sea level and are mostly filtered out, allowing mainly the long U.V.A. (365-400nm) to reach the surface, with the result of a relative preponderance of U.V.A. over U.V.B. rays. The ratio of UVA/UVB is highest at the Dead Sea at all times of the year when measurments were made, as compared to other regions around the Mediterranean sea. This allows safe, prolonged exposure to the sunlight, with the result of more tanning and minimal sunburn, and less photodamage to the skin and low risk for skin cancer formation.
The water of the Dead Sea is the world’s saltiest lake, with salinity reachings 290 gm/Liter. At a 100 meter depth it reaches 326 gm/Liter. As the name suggest, the Dead Sea is devoid of life due to its extremely high content of salts and minerals except for few kinds of salt diposits algae, in addition to certain flowers, plants and natural vegetations and trees, which grow in salty water and land close to the Dead Sea, and in the Jordan Valley areas. The species of some of these trees are: popular (Populus euphratica), and tamarisk (Tamarix jordanensis). There are also the Acacia trees with their beatiful flowers, specially one of iits family called Jamielah and some kinds of vegetations like Ziziphus lotus, a densly branched shurbs, 1-2 m. high with small spines and edible fruits, and Retama raetam, a broom-like shurb. The mountains to the East and West of the Jordan Valley, are covered by mediterraneanns wood and shurb vegetations, such as Quercus Callipriros (Evergreen oak), Ouercus ithaburensis (Tabor oak), Pirus Halepensis (Aleppo pine), and pestacia Palaestina (Tuperntine tree). It is interesting to mention that the Southern part of the Huleh Valley, was occupied by a shallow lake, while marches covered central part of the Basin. Vegetations dominated by Cyperus Papyrus (Papyrus) occupied large streches of the Huleh swamps, a long time ago.
Although the Dead Sea is normally as calm as mill pond, with barely a ripple disturbing its surface, it can sometime bedome turbulent, with waves of 1.1 meters high and 10 meters long lasting for few seconds; and this calm character makes it ideal for swimming and floating over its surface for few seconds; and this calm character makes it ideal for swimming and floating over its surface for a longer time compared to other seas. The salinity of the water means a high T.D.S. (total dissolved salts), which reaches 335.214 part per million (ppm), compared to the Mediterranean water which is 80.000 ppm. only. The hight salinity of the Dead Sea water is due to the tremendous evaporation processand the high amount of salt and mineral sediments. The water densiry is consequently high and reaches 1.23 gm./cc. at 25r C. The chemical analysis of the water shows a high content of minerals and salts in general, and a high concentration of certain elemants and in particular bromides products, whose concentration is 50 times more than that of the waters of other seas. The high bromine level functions as a relaxing factor to skin, muscles and to the whole body. The concentration of magnesium is also 15 times that of other seas, and its functions as antiallergic factor on both the skin, and the lung bronchioles; this is why many patients with asthma get benefit out being in the Dead Sea area in addition to the effect of the dryness of the weather and low humidity. The water contains a natural tar called “Bitumen”, and this is why the Dead Sea was called in the past the “Asphilt” or “Tar Sae”. This natural tar is believed to function as an antiinflammatory and keratolytic agent to the skin, (which means smoothing of the skin surface).
Black Mud is present on the shores of the sea in different locations and it has a blackish colour with sulphiric smell. Mud samples were analyzed at the Arab Potash Laboratories in Jordan in 1991 and showed to contain a high percentage of halogens, calcium oxide, magnesium oxide, calcium, magnesium, zinc, natural tar (Bitumen), and silicates (silicon compounds). The samples also contain many salts and minerals as the mud absorbs them from the water itself, the latter has an excellent effect on the skin and acts as a mask. The black colour of mud absorbs high sun rays, so it acts as a photosensitizer and attracts more sun when it is applied t the skin. Mud packs are mainly useful arthropathy, as they help in stimulation of blood circulation around the affected joints. Microbiological studies were also carried on samples of mud and the sea water which showed to contain only salt-tolerant halophilic bacteria, that have no significant function, and are normally present in salt waters.
Physical and psychological benefits of the Dead Sea:
Physical and psychological benefits of the Dead Sea are due to the high specific weight of the water which allows the body to float. This flotation force causes a partial loss of body weight resulting in easier movements of limbs, and so it helps in physiotherapeutic exercises (hydrotherapy), for the skin, the muscles, and the joints and in various conditions of paralysis, paresis, muscular stiffness, bone fracture and limb amputation. The human body is also influenced by the dissolved chemical components in the water, and as a result of the influx and outflow of ions, the equilibrium of the skin is changed. In addition to that a proccess of penetration into the body of certain chemical components and gases occurs. The immersion in the water of the sea causes thermal, mechanical and chemical types of stimulation, and the heat of the water dilates the blood vessels resulting in a quiker circulation and a decrease in the blood pressure, and rise in body temperature. It is impossible to sink in the thick brine, as the water has a high specific gravity, but one can, however, recline on the water to read a newspaper. In addition, the area is of quiet nature and free of pollution as it id far away from industrial, agricutural or housing development projects and so it has a psychotherapeutic influence in alleviating frustration and apprehension and leading into total tension relaxation. The group therapy of patients is also helpful in having a relaxing and useful treatment with excellent results. It is also important to mention here that not far away, over the hils to the east of the Dead Sea, is another special water adventure: The Ma’in hot springs, now developed as a beatiful comprehensive spa, with a hotel, bathing and physical therapeutic facilities. In addition to that there is the Zara area east of the Dead Sea, and on the mountains which are very close, there are about 55 sources of hot sulphurrous mineral water springing from a depth of 1500 meters pouring to the lake. Overlooking the Dead Sea and the Jordan Valley and to the Esat side, 10 kilometers West of Madaba (The Madaba of the Bible), the city of mosaic, is the most revered site in JOrdan: the hilly district of “Mount Nebo”, the memorial tomb of Moses and the persumed site of the prophet’s death and burial place. From that point, one can have a view across the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea to the rooftops of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. On Mount Nebo one can marval at the artistory of the mosiac places and in particular the churches there, dug in the serenity of this mountain that has been touched with so much history. A drive of half an hour by car South of Madaba lies Mukawir, (Ancient Mauchaerus), which has also a splendid spectacular view across the Dead Sea, the hills around Jerusalem, the fortress built by Herod the Great, whicch after his death was passed on to Herod Antipas, and later on was destroyed by Roman’s. Here is where the beautiful Salome danced for Herod, who later presented her with the head of John the Baptist in order to honour her wishes. In Israel there are more thermomineral springs along the steep escapments bordering the western shore of the Dead Sea with hot waters rich in minerals facilities that have been developed to meet excellent touristic standard. The waters flowing out at these springs are actually mixed solutions, the components of which originates from various underground strata and have different hydrogeological histories. These are (1) Hamme Zohar (Zohar Hot Springs), on the South-Western shore of the Dead Sea, are sulphur-bearing, and the waters originate hundreds of meters underground with a temperature close to boiling point. The water contains high concentrated magnesium and carbon dioxide, as well as sulphur and hydrogen sulphide. (2) Hamme Mazor (Ein Gedi Hot Springs) and hamme Shalem (Shalem Hot Springs), a few kilometers South of Ein Gedi, near the water-line of the Dead Sea, and further North, between Ein Gedi and Mitzpe Shalem, rises the thermomineral source of Shalem. The waters of both springs contain chlorides and bromides of mainly sodium, potassium and calcium, and smaller amount of lithium and strontiums, and high concentrations of sulphur and carbon dioxide.
Ein Gedi possesses a seductive beauty, and richness caused by the potent mineral-rich air and water, and warm climate. According to A.J. Bernstein, an independent photojournalist based in New York City wrote in ” Ambassador Magazine ” “Legend has it what when Marc Antony fell ruinously in love with Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, he wanted to impress her with a priceless gift for a woman who had everything shrewd and acquisitive, Cleopatra asked for the persimmon groves of Ein Gedi. A perfume was made from the persimmon fruit. A woman could hide a tiny vial of the fragrance under the arch of her foot, then stomp on it at a propitious moment to drive a man wild. Ein Gedi was the only place where this perfume was made, and cursed was the man who revealed its secrets. The groves belonged to King Herod, and Antony had to cajole him into giving Cleopatra a short-term lease. Herod eventually would get back his precious groves, but when the Jews latter battled the Roman Conquerors, Ein Gedi was reduced to rubble and the persimmon groves were lost forever”.
The medical centres at the Dead Sea Spas in both Jordan and Israel have facilities for treatment, massage, gymnastics and mud packs. Private solariums are located with direct access to the sea and surrounded by beautiful bamboo fences and the area is planted with palms and other subtropical trees that look like a forest. There are physicians and dermatologists and a number of nursing staff and physical therapists available most of the time. The Spa-Centres in Israel are more advanced and have more rooms and staff, with longer experience.
The percentage and success of clearance of skin diseases in a great number of patients was significant and the results of studies showed that around one third of the patients had a complete clearance, and between 40%-50%, showed a significant one, and around third as partial. The records of 1448 patients treated for psoriasis at the International Psoriasis Treatment Centre in Ein Bokek were retrospectively evaluated concerning their treatment response and demographic characteristics. Clearing of 80-100% was observed in 88% of the patients treated, including almost 58%, how had complete clearing. Around 750 patients treated at the German Medical Centre (the Salt Land Village) in Jordan showed marked improvement and a 55% clearance in 80% of the patients treated.
Nature has endowed the Dead Sea region with a rare combination of Unique health-giving properties, and a journey to the lowest point on earth with the natural beauty, and historical, climatological wealth and seaside environment away from the streets of every day life. Not to mention getting acquainted with a new culture, and meeting guests from all over the world, ultimately means leaving behind a joy, something learned, and some fresh hope for future generations.