The Dead Sea

The History and Legacy of the Most Unique Lake in the World
Narrated by: Daniel Houle
Length: 2 hrs and 13 mins
Categories: History, World
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Publisher's Summary

If the world had a navel, it would be the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth where one can still stand on dry land. The photographs of this unique lake seem to be taken from a science fiction movie, or a land devastated after a nuclear holocaust. To others, the fluffy shores could remind them of Antarctica although it is in one of the warmest spots on the planet. Its white, creamy masses, scattered along golden beaches, are not ice floes or frozen water, but effervescent salt formations. The famous Jordan River, where the Hebrew people entered the Promised Land and Jesus was baptized, flows into the lake, but the basin is so deeply sunk into the face of the planet that the waters never leave, as if they had fallen into a small black hole where nothing can escape. If the level of the lake does not increase, despite having no drainage to the sea, it is as a result of intense evaporation. 

The Dead Sea is also an archaeological site loaded with history. Known among the first civilizations in the region as "Sea of Asphalt" and "Salt Sea", innumerable myths and legends lend it an air of mystery, as if it attracted sterility and misfortune while eradicating all life from its waters. It was perhaps the inhospitable feel of the place, the almost total desolation surrounding it, which led the writer of the Pentateuch to imagine that many years ago, a cataclysm sent to annihilate perverted people had taken place there. The Book of Genesis, possibly picking up the memory of a catastrophic event, placed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah near the Dead Sea, and they were left desolate after fire rained from the sky. An Arab explorer from the Middle Ages called it "the gate of hell" due to its desolate landscapes, extreme temperature, and stinking air. Nothing can live in the waters of the Dead Sea aside from some single-celled organisms and certain fungi due to its high salinity - the third part of the blue that fills the basin are minerals. 

If the waters contain no life, the desert shores, which in some places form fantastic salt statues, reflect this desolation. As a reminder of its scanty hospitality, the largest group of cemeteries in the ancient world, with tens of thousands of graves, are located in the area. The Dead Sea truly lives up to its name. 

Today the Dead Sea is of interest not only to historians, archaeologists, and geologists, but also for tourists, as it has become one of the preferred destinations in visits to the Middle East. The sight of naked bathers covered in dark mud, like black statues of asphalt floating without sinking on the silent waters may have inspired ancient travelers to say that some sorcerers lived there. 

However, in recent years, the growing demand for water for the development of Israel and Jordan, which has required more and more extraction from the Jordan River, is jeopardizing the viability of this wonder of nature. In the last 50 years, it is estimated that the lake area decreased to almost half of what it was a century ago. Reviving the Dead Sea is one of the priorities for the nations that share its waters, and to achieve this, pharaonic projects have been resurrected, such as carrying water from other oceans to prevent Lake Asphaltites, which has never been conducive to life, to end up dying itself.

The Dead Sea: The History and Legacy of the Most Unique Lake in the World traces the tragedies and stories associated with one of the most fascinating sites on Earth. Along with pictures of important people, places, and events, you will learn about the Dead Sea like never before.

©2019 Charles River Editors (P)2020 Charles River Editors

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World Heritage site

The area of the Dead Sea has a history of many millennia including the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Essenes at Qumran, Masada, the Jewish revolts, monks in the Middle Ages, and archeology in the last few centuries. A plan to create a canal between the Dead Sea and the Red Sea has been discussed for centuries but may actually happen in the next decade. It is a World Heritage site, so opinions are mixed.
I also have the audio which is fun because I can listen to the professional narration by Daniel Houle while enjoying the pictures on another device.

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