Masada & Dead Sea

This is the way up to Masada, on the top of the mountain. Alternatively, you can climb the path, like the schoolkids singing on the way up in 40C heat. (about 104F).

Originally Masada was the site of one of Herod’s palaces. This is th remains of a mosaic floor in one of the buildings.There is stil archeology going on here.

This is the remains of the Roman ramp. (above) When the Romans got fed up with the renegade band raiding the countryside at the end of the Jewish War, they surrounded the mountain and laid siege for two years. The zealots successfully defended their stronghold, but had to watch as the Romans used slave labour to build a ramp up the side of the mountain for siege machines. The Roman camps, perimeter wall, and ramp are still easily visible, almost undisturbed in 2,000 years – as is the original rain capture system (Broken by the Romans) and cisterns that let the rebels hold out for so long.

These pictures (above, below) are the remains of Qumran, the settlement of the Essenes, site of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls. The scrolls were found hidden in various caves in this area by the shore of the Dead Sea. The exact status of the Essenes and the meaning of the scrolls is much disputed. Were these mainstream writings brought from Jerusalem for safekeeping during the War, or the writings specific to this sect? Some are almost exact copies of assorted Old Testament books.

Russian pilgrims baptised in the Jordan, at the spot where (supposedly) Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist.

“Look, I float!” A fine dip in the Dead Sea at the Ein Geddi kibbutz. The feeling is truly weird – the water is so dense with dissolved salt that when you get about chest-deep you start to float, your feet no longer have traction. Just don’t get any in your eyes. It stings!!

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