Masada & The Dead Sea

Masada

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).


This is the remains of a mosaic floor in one of the buildings. There is still archeological investigation going on here.

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This is a model of the original Palace – Originally Masada was the site of one of Herod’s palaces.


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.


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There is a team of scribes copying the holy Books and transcribing them on site at Masada.

Qumran



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.

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

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The water level has been falling drastically over the last few decades. The Dead Sea used to be up at the top of the bank.


“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!!

St. George’s Monastery
St. George Monastery in Wadi Qelt, or officially Monastery of Saints George and John Jacob of Choziba is a monastery located in Wadi Qelt, in the eastern West Bank, in Area C of the Palestinian Authority territories. Its Arabic name is Mar Jaris. The cliff-hanging complex, first established around AD 500, with its ancient chapel and gardens, is active and inhabited by Greek Orthodox monks.
First established about 500AD, it was overrun and destroyed by the Persians in 612, then re-established during the crusades but later abandoned, and finally was re-established in the 1800’s.
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