Dead Sea

Which is the lowest point of land on Earth?
And the answer: the Dead Sea.
Photo Credit: David Shankbone.

Also known as the Salt Sea, the Dead Sea has the lowest elevation and is the lowest body of water on earth. It is eight-to-nine times saltier than oceans and is famous for humans being able to float on the surface.    

Located along the border of Israel and Jordan, the Dead Sea is one of the most unique, naturally-occurring phenomena on Earth. Aside from microorganisms and algae, the Dead Sea is not able to sustain any form of life. You read that right: no seaweed, fish or whales can be found anywhere in the Dead Sea's turquoise waters.

The Dead Sea's salt content largely comes from its location. Water flows into the sea from the River Jordan, but without any other tributaries, the water is forced to evaporate— leaving behind high quantities of salt. In fact, it’s estimated that in the whole of the Dead Sea there are about 37 billion tons of salt.

Throughout history, humans have flocked to the Dead Sea for its curative properties. Herod the Great, who reigned between 37 to 4 BCE, built one of the world’s first health spas along its shores. According to legend, Cleopatra also loved the Dead Sea and used its products as part of her beauty regime (beauty gurus: take note).

The Dead Sea was also home to one of the most important discoveries in modern archeology. In 1947, the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 11 caves near the ruins of Qumran on its northwestern shore. These ancient manuscripts date from around 250 BCE to 68 AD, and have been deeply influential for scholars' understanding of early Christianity.

Learn more about the Dead Sea here.

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