As we left the Palestine Postash Company and continued south toward Ein Bokek our first stop was…
The Qumran Caves…
The Qumran Caves are a group of caves found around the archaeological site of Qumran (see below). It is in a number of these caves that the famous Dead Sea Scrolls were found. The spectacular limestone cliffs seen above Qumran contain numerous caves that have been used for thousands of years.
In late 1946 or early 1947 a Bedouin boy of the Ta’amireh tribe, found a cave after searching for a lost goat. He had stumbled onto the first cave containing scrolls from two thousand years ago. More Ta’amireh tribesmen visited the cave and scrolls were taken back to their encampment. They were eventually shown to the Monastery of Saint Mark in April 1947 and the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls was made known. The location of the cave was not revealed for another 18 months so that further exploration could be continued.
According to religious scholars, “The Dead Sea Scrolls enhance our knowledge of both Judaism and Christianity. The scrolls represent a non-rabbinic form of Judaism and provide a wealth of comparative material for New Testament scholars, including many important parallels to the Jesus movement. They show Christianity to be rooted in Judaism and have been called the evolutionary link between the two.”
Qumran is an archaeological site in the West Bank. It is located a mile inland from the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea. The settlement was constructed around 134-104 BC or somewhat later, and was occupied most of the time until it was destroyed by the Romans in 68 AD or shortly after. It is best known as the settlement nearest to the caves in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were hidden.
The Einot Tzukim Nature Reserve was the next stop as we headed south on Highway 90.
The Einot Tzukim Nature Reserve…
The reserve is the lowest nature reserve (Oasis) in the world. It contains pools with constantly flowing water are full of minerals believed to have wonderful therapeutic properties. We were able to only stop for a few minutes and Eileen grabbed this image.
After spending some time at the Oasis we continued our trip on Highway 90. A few miles down the road we decided to take a gravel/dirt road heading into the desert to see what we could find.
The Judean Desert…
As we headed west into the Metzoke Dragot, a series of cliffs overlooking the Dead Sea we came upon a herd of Nubian Ibex. These goat like animals live wildly in the desert and feed off the limited vegetation and water in the area. The goats are brown and the males have large horns. Eileen captured one in the image below.
We continued further into the desert and came across another set of caves that we could actually explore. They turned out to be rather small and from what we could observe, were a place for people to come and light a campfire and have a brew or two.
The Judean Desert is quite spectacular. Not a sandy desert that I thought it would be (like the Sahara). More rocks, caves, cliffs etc. I walked around a bit looking for the shot that best would show off it’s beauty.
From the vantage point on the road above this is what I saw:
We finally made it to our destination Ein Bokek.
Ein Bokek is a tourist area on the Dead Sea. It has about 12 hotels and other ‘therapeutic’ clinics where people from all over the world go for the water’s healing qualities.
At the time of year that we were there, the hotels were not all that crowded and the sea itself lacked bathers…
but the air was warm enough for some beautiful floral displays on the streets of Ein Bokek.
We headed over to a nearby salt trail but of course Eileen got lost. But then again who could blame her (this time)?
The salt flat, well that’s what I call it anyways, goes about a half-mile into the Dead Sea.
It is easily accessible by foot even though the sign says otherwise.
The salt washes up to the walking path and forms large deposits.
The trip to the Dead Sea and it’s surrounding environs was amazing…
and we enjoyed everything we did there.