usually known as "the Dead Sea." This is the largest lake in Palestine, and in many respects the most remarkable in the world. Well known as it has always been, its peculiarities have scarcely yet been adequately explored.
I. Names. — This body of water has received a variety of designations from writers both ancient and modern; and, as they are characteristic, they demand a brief examination here.
1. "The Salt Sea" is the most common Scripture appellation (יָ ם הִמֶּלִה, Yam ham-Melach; Sept. ἡ θάλασσα τῶν ἁλῶν, or ἁλός; also ἡ θάλασσα ἡ ἁλυκής; Vulg. Mare Salis). It is evidently a descriptive name, probably intended to indicate both the saltness of its water and the character of the plain and hills along its southern margin (Reland, Paloest. p. 240). It occurs in the earliest books of the Bible, but is not found later than the time of Joshua (Ge 14:3; Nu 34:3; De 3:17; Jos 3:16; Jos 15:2,5; Jos 18:19). In the Talmudical books it is likewise called "the Sea of Salt" (ימא דמלחא). See quotations from the Talmud and, the Midrash Tehillim by Reland (Paloest. p. 237).
2. "The Sea of the Plain," or, more properly, of the Arabah (יָ ם הָעֲרָבָה, Yam ha-Arabah; Sept. [ἡ]θάλασσα [τῆς] ῎Αραβα; Vulg. Mare solitudinis), is also a descriptive title, showing its geographical position in the center of the great valley of the Arabah. It is first employed in combination with the preceding, as if Moses had heard it on his approach to Palestine (De 3:17); and possibly it may have afterwards supplanted the older name (4:49; 2Ki 14:25), with which it is sometimes associated (Jos 3:16; Jos 12:3; De 3:17). SEE ARABAH.
3. "The East Sea" is the only other name employed in Scripture (הִיָּ ם הִקִּדמוֹנַי, ha-Yam hak-Kadmoni; Sept. ἡ θάλασσα ἡ πρὸς ἀνατολάς; Vulg. Mare Orientale). It is used by Ezekiel (Eze 47:18), Joel (Joe 2:20), and Zechariah (Zec 14:8, where the A.V. has "the former sea," although the Hebrew is the same), to distinguish it from the Mediterranean, which was called "the western" (האחרון, literally "latter," though when opposed to קדמון it means "western").
In one passage (Eze 47:8) it is styled, without previous reference, "the Sea" (הִיָּ ם, ha-Yanm, ), and distinguished from "the great sea" — the Mediterranean — (ver. 10).
4. The Sea of Sodom (ימא של סדו ם) is found in the Talmud (Reland, p. 237, 243), no doubt because common tradition represented the city of Sodom as having been engulfed by it. Its connection with Sodom is first suggested in the Bible in the book of 2 Esdras (5:7) by the name "Sodomitish sea" (mare Sodomiticum).
5. Josephus, and before him Diodorus Siculus (2, 48; 19, 98), names it the Asphaltic Lake — ηΑ῾᾿σφαλτίτις λίμνη (Ant. 1:9; 4:5, 1; 9:10, 1; War, 1, 33, 5; 3:10, 7; 4:8, 2, 4), and once λ. ἡ ἀσφαλτοφόρος (Ant. 17:6, 5). Also (ibid. 5, 1, 22) ἡ Σοδομίτις λίμνη. This name was adopted by Galen and other ancient writers, apparently because bitumen or asphaltum was often found floating on its surface or lying along its shores (Reland, p. 241).
6. The name Dead Sea appears to have been first used in Greek (θάλασσα νεκρά) by Pausanias (5, 7) and Galen (4, 9), and in Latin (mare mortuum) by Justin (36, 3, 6), or, rather, by the older historian, Trogus Pompeiius (B.C. cir. 10), whose work he epitomized. It is employed also by Eusebius (Onomast. s.v. Σόδομα). The expressions of Pausanias and Galen imply that the name was in use in the country; and this is corroborated by the expression of Jerome (Comm. on Da 11:45), "Mare . . . quod nunc appellatur mortuum." The origin of this name is given by Jerome (ad Ezekiel 47), "In quo nihil poterat esse vitale;" and in this respect modern research has to a large extent confirmed ancient tradition, proving that the name is appropriate. The Jewish writers appear never to have used it, but it has become established in modern literature from the belief in the very exaggerated stories of its deadly character and gloomy aspect, which themselves probably arose out of the name, and were due to the preconceived notions of the travelers who visited its shores, or to the implicit faith with which they received the statements of their guides. Thus Maundeville (ch. 9) says it is called the Dead Sea because it moveth not, but is ever still — the fact being that it is frequently agitated, and that when in motion its waves have great force. Hence also the fable that no birds could fly across it and live, a notion which the experience of almost every modern traveler to Palestine would contradict.
7. The Arabic name is Bahr Lut, "the Sea of Lot." The name of Lot is also specially connected with a small piece of land, sometimes island, sometimes peninsula, at the north end of the lake. Another frequent designation among the modern inhabitants is El-Baheiret el-Myetah, "Dead Sea," suggested by its character.
II. Physical Features. —
1. General Position. — The Dead Sea is situated in the lowest part of that great valley which stretches in a direct line due south from the base of Hermon to the head of the gulf of Akabah. The valley is a chasm or fissure in the earth's crust, being for nearly 200 miles below the level of the ocean. The Dead Sea is the reservoir into which all its waters flow, and from which there is, and can be, no escape except by evaporation. It is the lowest and largest of the three lakes which interrupt the rush of the Jordan's downward course. It is, in fact, a pool left by the ocean in its retreat from what there is reason to believe was at a very remote period a channel connecting the Mediterranean with the Red Sea. As the most enduring result of the great geological operation which determined the present form of the country, it may be called, without exaggeration, the key to the physical geography of the Holy Land. It is therefore in every way an object of extreme interest.
The valley is shut in on the east and west by parallel ranges of mountains, having steep, rugged, and bare sides, furrowed by wild ravines. The eastern range is somewhat higher than the western. In the parallel of Jericho the ranges expand slightly, and the valley there attains its greatest breadth — about twelve miles; but they contract again at the northern end of the Dead Sea, and continue in parallel lines throughout its entire length. The cliffs which hem in the valley are here steeper, higher, and wilder than elsewhere, and the scenery is more bleak and desolate. The sea occupies the whole width of the valley, in many places washing the sides of the cliffs.
2. Terrace Banks. — It is deserving of special note that the mountainsides and low plains on both the eastern and western shores of the Dead Sea are marked by a series of terraces, manifestly waterlines of some remote ages. The highest is very distinctly seen on the mountain chain of Moab, extending along the tops of the cliffs like a huge shelf. Its elevation appears to be about 1300 feet; and on the western range, at various places, there is a corresponding terrace. This terrace has been frequently noticed by travelers, but special attention was recently given to it by Tristram who remarks: "These terraces in the old Secondary limestone must be about the present level of the Mediterranean, and they seem to tell of a period long antecedent to the Tertiary terraces and deposits below, when the old Indian Ocean wore the rocks and scooped out the caverns, as its unbroken tide swept up from the coasts of Africa; or when the Salt Sea formed one in a chain of African lakes" (Land of Israel, p. 247).
About 230 feet above the present level of the Dead Sea are traces of another ancient shoreline, marked by a strip of alluvial marl adhering to the rocks and cliffs, particularly at the northwest angle, and down as farnas Ras el-Feshkhah (ibid. p. 256). It is also seen at Wady Derejah and Ain- Jidy. The deposit is mixed with shells of existing species, layers of gypsum, and gravel. Where there are ravines running down to the sea between high cliffs, the deposit reaches up their sides in places to a height of 400 feet, and then slopes away in a series of terraces to the present level of the sea, as if the water had gradually and slowly evaporated. At one point Tristram counted on the shore "no less than eight low gravel terraces, the ledges of comparatively recent beaches, distinctly marked. The highest of these was forty-four feet above the present sea level" (p. 278). At Jebel Shukif, a short distance north of Engedi, Tristram, in addition to the lower terraces noted elsewhere, measured the elevations of three high terraces. The first at a height of 322 feet, marked by a deposit of marl on limestone; the second 665 feet, formed of hard limestone; and the third 1654 feet, of crystalline limestone (ibid. p. 295).
3. Circuit of the Shore. — The Contour of the Dead Sea, as delineated in most maps, is regular, the shorelines having few indentations, and the curves at the north and south being uniform. Recent researches especially those of Lynch, Robinson, and Tristram have shown that this regularity of outline is incorrect, The western shore especially has long promontories and deep bays, and the curves at the north and south are very far from being so gracefully rounded as most chartographers have delineated them.
On the north, at the embouchure of the Jordan, a low promontory is in process of gradual formation by the muddy deposits brought down by the river. It is mostly bare, destitute of all vegetation, and, like the adjoining plain, covered with a nitrous crust. At present it projects into the lake more than a mile. When the water is very high, a portion is overflowed. To the westward lies a deep bay, and beyond it a long, low isthmus, covered with cairns of loose: rounded stones. De Saulcy has given to this isthmus the name Rejum Lut, "Lot's ruin;" but this name is not heard on the spot. The ruins are shapeless and desolate. They are of the highest antiquity, and may perhaps be of the era of the "cities of the plain." The shoreline now trends, with an easy curve, to the southwest, and then to the south, until it reaches the bold headland of Ras el-Feshkhah. So far it is flat and sandy, and the adjoining plain dreary and naked, save where, at long intervals, a little brackish spring rises, or a tiny streamlet flows, and there cane brakes and shrubberies of tamarisk are seen. Ridges of drift mark the waterline, and are composed of broken canes and willow branches, with trunks of palms, poplars, and other trees, half imbedded in slimy mud, and all covered with incrustations of salt.
A few miles north of Ras el-Feshkhah are some confused heaps and long ridges of loose unhewn stones and mounds of earth, to which De Saulcy has given the name Gumran. Other travelers, however, have been unsuccessful in discovering here any traces of a ruined city, or of the name which the French savant has given to it (Tristram, p. 249; Porter, Handbook, p. 203).
Ras el-Feshkhah is a bold headland of crystalline limestone, descending from a height of some 1500 feet in broken cliffs into the deep sea. It bars all passage along the shore; but Tristram by great exertions climbed round its face. It is cleft asunder by Wady en-Nar, the continuation of the Kidron. At the base of the cliff is a vein of bituminous limestone, largely used in the manufacture of little ornaments which are sold to the pilgrims at Jerusalem. "The substance seemed to have been partially ejected in a liquid form, and to have streamed down the cliffs. It was generally mixed with flints and pebbles, sometimes covering the boulders in large splashes, and then, in the sea itself; formed the matrix of a very hard conglomerate of gravel and flints. When thrown into the fire, it burned with a sulphurous smell, but would not ignite at the flame of a lamp" (Tristram, p. 254).
South of Ras el-Feshkhah the cliffs retreat, leaving a plain along the shore, varying from (nete to two miles in breadth, and extending to Ain-Terabeh, about six miles distant. The plain is an alluvial deposit with layers of gravel, and having spits of pure sand projecting at intervals into the sea. It is partially covered with shrubberies of tamarisk, acacia, and retem (a species of broom; the Genista roetam of Forskal, abounding in the peninsula of Sinai), and towards the south with dense cane brakes. The coating of alluvial marl which once covered it is now in many places worn away; and deep gullies rend it in all directions. Enough remains to show that its top, like that of the plains at the northern and southern ends of the lake, formed the old Tertiary level of the waters (ibid. p. 256).
In the plain is a copious brackish spring, with a temperature of 96° Fahr. Farther south is Ain-Terabeh, a small fountain, slightly brackish, oozing up from the sand a few feet from the shore. Between it and the cliffs is a dense thicket abounding with birds and beasts: ducks, teal, pochard, thrush, bulbul; with swine, leopard, jackal, fox, hare, and porcupine (ibid. p. 273).
From Ain-Terabeh to Ras Mersed (six miles) the coast plain is a mere strip, frequently interrupted by rocky headlands which dip into the waves. Bitumen is here abundant with pebbles imbedded. "In a little bay, just before reaching NW Nady Shlukif, we were struck by a powerful sulphurous odor, and after some search found hot water bubbling through the gravel, at a temperature of 95° Fahr., only six inches from the sea. The smell of sulphur and rotten eggs was very strong, and while scooping in the gravel my hands became quite black, and my boots were covered with a yellow incrustation. Pebbles thrown in became incrusted with sulphur in a few minutes, and all the rocks in the sea, which were here quite hot — of the temperature of 800 Fahr. — were covered with it. There must be an enormous discharge of this mineral water under the sea, as the heat of the water extends for two hundred yards, and the odor to a much greater distance. The ordinary temperature of the sea elsewhere was 62°" (ibid. p. 279). On the south side of this spring is Jebel Shukif, a high, bold peak projecting into the sea. Two miles beyond it is the oasis of Engedi, a plain some two miles square, forming a delta to two glens which empty into it perennial streamlets of fresh water. These, with the "fountain of the kid" itself, make this spot a paradise in the midst of a dreary desert. SEE ENGEDI.
South of Engedi the plain becomes wider, but it is bare and desolate. The cliffs rise over it in broken masses of pale-brown limestone, divided by yawning chasms, while the alluvial deposits along their base are as white as snow. Two miles southward a spring of fetid water (Birket el-Khulil) oozes up on the margin of the sea, having a temperature of 88° Fahr. Other springs must exist beneath the waves, for the water near the shore is much hotter than elsewhere, and the whole surrounding air is filled with fumes of sulphureted hydrogen. No traces of trap rock are anywhere seen; but near Wady Khuderah are veins of crystalline limestone, and great quantities of flint, coated with oxide of iron. These De Saulcy and others mistook for lava torrents. The coast has the same general features as far as the hill and fortress of Sebbeh, the ancient Masada (q.v.). There, at the base of the hill, are the remains of a Roman camp; and beyond it the aspect of the plain is that of utter and even painful sterility. "Elsewhere the desolation is comparatively partial; here it reigns supreme. The two miles of rugged slope that lay between our path and the sea are difficult to describe. They are formed of a soft, white, and very salt deposit, torn and furrowed by winter torrents in every direction, which have left fantastic ruins and castles of olden shape, flat-topped mamelons, cairns, and every imaginable form into which a wild fancy could have moulded matter, standing in a labyrinth, north and south, before and behind us" (ibid. p. 315). The Birket el-Khulil just alluded to is a shallow depression on the shore, which is filled by the water of the lake when at its greatest height, and forms a natural saltpan. After the lake retires the water evaporates from the hollow, and the salt remains for the use of the Arabs. They also collect it from similar though smaller spots farther south, and on the peninsula (Irby, June 2). One feature of the beach is too characteristic to escape mention — the line of driftwood which encircles the lake, and marks the highest, or the ordinary high, level of the water. It consists of branches of brushwood, and of the limbs of trees, some of considerable size, brought down by the Jordan and other streams, and in course of time cast up on the beach. They stand up out of the sand and shingle in curiously fantastic shapes, all signs of life gone from them, and with a charred though blanched look very desolate to behold. Among them are said to be great numbers of palm trunks (Poole, p. 69); some doubtless floated over from the palm groves on the eastern shore already spoken of, and others brought down by the Jordan in the distant days when the palm flourished along its banks. The driftwood is saturated with salt, and much of it is probably of a very great age.
Farther south the shore recedes, forming a bay some eight miles in length, the water in places almost washing the base of the cliffs. One wild glen, called UmBaghek, breaks through the mountains, and sends out a tiny stream with a dense fringe of evergreens. Not far from it is another hot sulphur spring, which spreads its suffocating odors around. On the south the bay is bounded by the oasis of the Wady Zuweireh — a plain of some extent, sprinkled with tamarisks and acacias, and torn in all directions with torrent beds, through which the winter rains and the streamlets from numerous sulphurous and brackish springs find their way to the sea. The cliffs and peaks which rise over the oasis appear from a distance to exhibit traces of volcanic action, but closer inspection proves that there are no igneous rocks here or elsewhere along the western shore. Veins of ruddy limestone, blocks of ironstone, and multitudes of nodules of black flint look like trapdikes and craters in the distance. There are, however, a few cinders and scoriae observable here and there along the shore.
A short distance south of the Wady Zuweireh is Jebel Usdum, a range of hills running from north to south a distance of seven miles, with an average elevation of three hundred feet, composed of a solid mass of rock salt. The top and sides are covered with a thick coating of marl, gypsum. and gravel, probably the remains of the Post-tertiary deposit uplifted upon the salt. The declivities of the range are steep and rugged, pierced with huge caverns, and the summit shows a serried line of sharp peaks. The salt is of a greenish-white color, with lines of cleavage as if stratified, and its base reaches far beneath the present surface. The name of the range, Khashm Usdum, appears to preserve a memorial of the ancient guilty "city of the plain." SEE SODOM.
At the mouth of the Wady Zuweireh are some heaps of rough stones and the shattered walls of a small tower, marked by De Saulcy as the remains of Sodom. That city may have stood in this region, but it requires some power of imagination to identify it with these insignificant ruins.
At the northern end of Jebel Usdum is the mouth of Wady Muhawat, which exhibits some very remarkable geological features. Its sides are cliffs of old limestone, showing here and there on their surface traces of Post-tertiary marl; "but since the marl has been washed out there has been a second filling-in of an extraordinary character, which is only now in course of denudation. There are exposed on the sides of the wady, and chiefly on the south, large masses of bitumen mingled with gravel. These overlie a thick stratum of sulphur, which again overlies a thicker stratum of sand so strongly impregnated with sulphur that it yields powerful fumes on being sprinkled over a hot coal. Many blocks of the bitumen have been washed down the gorge, and lie scattered over the plain below along with huge boulders and other traces of tremendous floods.... The layer of sulphurous sand is generally evenly distributed on the old limestone base, the sulphur evenly above it, and the bitumen in variable masses. In every way it differs from the ordinary mode of deposit of these substances as we have seen them elsewhere. Again, the bitumen, unlike that which we pick up on the shore, is strongly impregnated with sulphur, and yields an overpowering sulphurous odor; above all, it is calcined, and bears the marks of having been subjected to extreme heat." This discovery is exceedingly important; and the remarks of Tristram upon it will be read with the deepest interest by all students of the Bible. "Here, so far as I can judge, we have the only trace of anything approaching to volcanic action which we have met with in our careful examination of the northern, western, and southern shores. The only other solution of the problem — the existence of a bituminous spring when the supply of water was more abundant — would scarcely account for the regular deposition of sulphurous sand, and then of the sand with the bitumen superimposed. I have a great dread of seeking forced corroborations of scriptural statements from questionable physical evidence, for the sceptic is apt to imagine that when he has refuted the wrong argument adduced in support of a scriptural statement, he has refuted the scriptural statement itself; but, so far as I can understand this deposit, if there be any physical evidence left of the catastrophe which destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, or of similar occurrences, we have it here. The whole appearance points to a shower of hot sulphur, and an irruption of bitumen upon it, which would naturally be calcined and impregnated by its fumes; and this at a geological period quite subsequent to all the diluvial and alluvial action of which we have such abundant evidence. The catastrophe must have been since the formation of the wady, since the deposition of the marl, and while the water was at its present level; therefore, probably during the historic period" (p. 355-357).
The shoreline runs for nearly three miles southward along the base of Jebel Usdum, and then sweeps sharply round to the east, leaving on the south a naked, miry plain called Sabkah, ten miles long from north to south by about six wide. It is in summer coated with a saline crust, but is so low that when the water is high a large section of it is flooded. Numerous torrent beds from the salt range on the west, and from the higher ground of the Arabah on the south, run across it, converting large portions into impassable swamps. On its southern border the old diluvium terrace rises like a white wall to a height of more than two hundred feet. It is only on getting close to it that the sides are seen to be rent and torn into a thousand fantastic forms by winter torrents and the wearing away of the softer deposits. The Sabkah is bounded on the east by Wady Tufeileh, one of the principal drains of the Arabah, and containing a brackish, perennial stream.
Beyond it the character of the surface completely changes. The ground rises in an easy slope to the foot of the Moab Mountains, and is covered with dense thickets of reeds, tamarisk, acacia, retem, zyziphus, and other shrubs, intermixed with fertile fields, cultivated by the Ghawarineh Arabs (as the inhabitants of the Ghor are called, here the worst representatives of their race), and producing abundant crops of wheat, maize, indigo, melons, and cucumbers. Tristram says: "The place positively swarmed with birds in countless myriads. There were doves by the score on every bush, large and small (Turtur risorius and T. Aegyptius), bulbuls, the hopping-thrush, shrikes, the gorgeous little sun-bird resplendent in the light, and, once more, our new sparrow. The Abyssinian lark, pipits, and wagtails luxuriated in the moist rills at our feet, which were fringed by drooping tufts of caper (Capparis Aegyptiaca) in full flower. All teemed with a prodigality of life" (p. 336).
This fertile tract touches the southeastern shore of the sea, and continues along it as it trends northeast for some five miles to the mouth of the Wady Nimeireh, becoming gradually narrower as the shoreline approaches the rocky sides of the mountains. The geological formation of this eastern range is different from the western. The front cliffs are red sandstone, apparently overlying hard, crystalline limestone, and topped by more recent calcareous rock. Trap boulders and fragments of greenstone and sienite are strewn along the base.
Such are the great southern shores of the Dead Sea. The great valley is here narrower than at the northern shore, not because of any contraction in the mountain ranges, but arising from the ridge of Usdum, which was evidently thrown up from the bottom of the valley at some period subsequent to the formation of the Arabah. The projecting base of Jebel Usdum on the west, and the high fertile region of Es-Safieh on the east, contract the southern end of the lake into the form of a semicircular bay about six miles in diameter. A few miles farther north the shores on each side expand so much that the breadth of the sea is almost doubled. The general aspect of the shores is dreary and desolate in the extreme. The salt- incrusted plain, the white downs of the Arabah, the naked line of salt hills, the bare and scathed mountain ranges on each side, all blazing under the rays of a vertical sun, form a picture of utter and stern desolation such as the mind can scarcely conceive.
On the northern side of Wady Nimeireh — a narrow strip of saline plain, very low and very barren, intervenes between the shore and the mountains. Here and there, at a little fountain or at the mouth of a ravine, a clump of bushes or a cane brake may be seen.
The Peninsula of el-Lisan, "the Tongue" SEE BAY, is the most remarkable feature on the eastern shore. It juts out opposite the great ravine of Kerak. The neck connecting it with the mainland is a strip of low, bare sand, measuring five miles across. In outline the peninsula bears some resemblance to the human foot, the toe projecting northward and forming a sharp promontory. Its length is about nine miles, and from the heel or southwestern point to the southern shoreline is seven miles. The main body is a Post-tertiary deposit composed of layers of marl, gypsum, and sandy conglomerate, manifestly coeval with the great diluvial terrace, and corresponding with it in elevation. The top is a table land, broad towards the south, but gradually narrowing to a serried ridge at the northern end. It is white and almost entirely destitute of vegetation. The surface is all rent and torn by torrent beds; and the sides are worn away into pyramidal masses resembling lines and groups of white tents. It is worthy of special note that in the wadys and along the shores pieces of sulphur, bitumen, rock salt, and pumice stone are found in great profusion. Probably, if examined with care, geological phenomena similar to those in Wady Mahawat might be found on this peninsula, and some additional light thus thrown upon the destruction of the cities of the plain. Poole says "the soil appeared sulphurous" (Journal R.G.S. 26, 62-64).
The little plain at the mouth of Wady Draa, or Kerak, affords a striking contrast, in its thickets of evergreens and luxuriant cornfields, to the arid desolation of the adjoining peninsula. It is here that the few inhabitants of the peninsula reside, in a wretched village called Mezra'ah.
The shore of the Dead Sea between the peninsula and the northeastern angle has never been thoroughly explored. Seetzen, Irby and Mangles, De Saulcy, and more recently the party of the Duc de Luynes, visited a few places; and Lieut. Lynch and his officers touched at several points. A few miles north of el-Lisan the fertile plain called Ghor el-Mezra'ah terminates, and the mountains descend in sublime cliffs of red sandstone almost to the water's edge. Higher up, white, calcareous limestone appears, and forms at this place the main body of the range. Basalt also appears in places, sometimes overlying the limestone as on the plain of Bashan, at others bursting through the sandstone strata in dikes and veins. The ravines of Mojib (Arnon) and Zerka Ma'in appear like huge rents in the mountains. Near the mouth of the latter veins of gray and black trap cut through the sandstone, and a copious fountain of hot, sulphurous water sends a steaming river into the sea amid thickets of palms and tamarisks. This is Callirrhoe, so celebrated in olden time for its baths. Between this point and the plain of the Jordan volcanic eruptions have produced immense flows of basaltic rock, portions of which had been overflowed into the valley of the Jordan. Among other smaller basaltic streams three were found bordering on the eastern edge of the Dead Sea to the south of the little plain of Zarah (M. Lartet's paper to French Academy of Sciences; see in Journal of Sac. Lit. July, 1865, p. 496).
The plain between the mountains and the mouth of the Jordan is in general well watered, and covered with luxuriant vegetation and occasional thickets of tamarisk, retem, and acacia. At the ruins of Suweimeh, De Saulcy found a copious hot spring with a ruinous aqueduct (Voyage en Terre-Sainte, 1, 317). Along the shore pieces of pumice stone, lava, and bitumen are found imbedded in the sand and mud as if washed up by the waves; and at this point are more distinct traces of volcanic action than elsewhere around the sea.
One remarkable feature of the northern portion of the eastern heights is a plateau which divides the mountains halfway up, apparently forming a gigantic landing place in the slope, and stretching northward from the Wady Zerka Ma'in. It is very plainly to be seen from Jerusalem, especially at sunset, when many of the points of these fascinating mountains come out into unexpected relief. This plateau appears to be on the same general level with a similar plateau on the western side opposite to it, with the top of the rock of Sebbeh, and perhaps with the Mediterranean.
4. The dimensions of the Dead Sea have never yet been taken with sufficient accuracy. Its longest axis is situated nearly north and south. It lies between 31° 6' 20" and 31° 46' N. lat., nearly; and thus its water surface is from N. to S. as nearly as possible 40 geographical, or 46 English miles long. On the other hand, it lies between 35" 24' and 35° 37' E. long., nearly; and its greatest width (some three miles south of Ain-Jidy) is about 9 geographical miles, or 10 1/3 English miles. The ordinary area of the upper portion is about 174 square geographical miles; of the channel, 29; and of the lower portion, hereafter styled the lagoon, 46 — in all, about 250 square geographical miles. It must be remembered that this varies considerably at different seasons of the year, and in different years. When the sea is filled up by winter rains, the flat plain on the south is submerged for several miles. The annual rainfall, too, is not uniform in Palestine. Some years it is more than double what it is in others, and this produces a corresponding effect on the volume of water in the sea, and consequently on its area. At its northern end the lake receives the stream of the Jordan; on its eastern side the Zerka Ma'in (the ancient Callirrhoe, and possibly the more ancient en-Eglaim), the Mojib (the Arnon of the Bible), and the Beni-Hemad. On the south the Kurahy or el-Ahsy, and on the west that of Ain-Jidy. These are probably all perennial, though variable, streams; but, in addition, the beds of the torrents which lead through the mountains east and west, and over the flat, shelving plains on both north and south of the lake, show that in the winter a very large quantity of water must be poured into it. There are also all along the western side a considerable number of springs, some fresh, some warm, some salt and fetid, which appear to run continually, and all find their way, more or less absorbed by the sand and shingle of the beach, into its waters.
The peninsula of Lisan divides the sea into two sections: that on the north is an elongated oval in form, while that on the south is almost circular. The narrowest part of the channel between the peninsula and the mainland is not much more than two miles across. The northern section is a deep, regularly formed basin, the sides descending steeply and uniformly all round, as well on the north and south as on the east and west. This is one of the most remarkable features of the sea. Lynch ran seven lines of soundings across it from shore to shore, and found it deepest between Ain- Terabeh and Wady Mojib, that is, about the center of the northern section. From this point the depth decreased gradually towards the Lisan on the south and the mouth of the Jordan on the north. The greatest depth found by Lynch was 1308 feet, but Lieut. Molyneux records one sounding taken by him as 1350 feet. The deep part of the lake terminates at the peninsula. The greatest depth of the channel between the Lisan and the western shore is only thirteen feet, and no part of the southern section was more than twelve feet in depth (Lynch, Oficial Report, p. 43).
It appears that when the water is very low there are two practicable fords from the peninsula to the mainland — one across the narrow channel, and the other running from the isthmus to the northern point of Jebel Usdum (Seetzen, Reisen, 2, 358; Irby and Mangles, Travels, p. 140).
5. The depression of the Dead Sea is without a parallel in the world. From experiments made by boiling water in 1837, Messrs. Moore and Beke supposed the depression to be about 500 feet. In the following year, Russegger with his barometer made it about 1400 feet. Symonds by trigonometrical survey, in 1841, calculated the depression at 1312 feet; and the level run by Dale, an officer of Lynch's expedition, gave a result of 1316 feet. A still more careful measurement has been recently made by the corps of English engineers under Capt. Wilson, with the following result: "The levelling from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea has been performed with the greatest possible accuracy, and by two independent observers, using different instruments, and the result may be relied upon as being absolutely true to within three or four inches. The depression of the surface on March 12, 1865, was found to be 1292 feet; but from the line of driftwood observed along the border of the Dead Sea, it was found that the level of the water at some period of the year — probably during the winter freshets — stands two feet six inches higher, which would make the least depression 1289.5 feet. Capt. Wilson also learned, from inquiry among the Bedouin, and from European residents in Palestine, that during the early summer the level of the Dead Sea is lower by at least six feet. This would make the greatest depression to be as near as possible 1298 feet... The most recent observation before that now given, by the Due de Luynes and Lieut. Vignes, of the French navy, agrees with our result in a very remarkable manner, considering that the result was obtained by barometric observation, the depression given by them being 1286 feet on June 7, 1864, which at most differs only twelve feet from the truth, if we suppose the Dead Sea was then at its lowest" (Sir Henry James, in the Atheneum).
The exact amount of the depression will, of course, vary with the rise and fall of the waters at different seasons. Traces along the shore prove that the level has varied as much as fifteen feet within the past half century (Robinson, Physical Geography, p. 190). It is a singular coincidence that the depth and depression of the Dead Sea are very nearly equal, each about 1300 feet; the elevation of Jerusalem above the Mediterranean is about twice, and above the Dead Sea about three times that number (ibid. p. 190).
6. The water of the Dead Sea is more intensely salt than that of any other sea known. It has also a bitter, nauseous taste, and leaves upon the skin a slightly greasy feeling. Yet it is transparent as the water of the Mediterranean, and its color is the same — a delicate green. Its specific gravity, and consequent buoyancy, is very great. Bathers float easily in an upright position with head and shoulders above the surface. Lynch says that eggs, which would have sunk in the ocean, floated here with only two thirds immersed. This peculiarity was well known to the ancients (Josephus, War, 4:8, 4; Aristot. Meteor. 2, 3; see also in Reland, p. 241, 249). Of its weight and inertia the American expedition had also practical experience. In the gale in which the party were caught on their first day on the lake, between the mouth of the Jordan and Ain-Feshkhah, "it seemed as if the bows of the boats were encountering the sledge-hammers of the Titans." When, however, "the wind abated, the sea rapidly fell; the water, from its ponderous quality, settling as soon as the agitating cause had ceased to act" (Lynch, Narrative, p. 268). At ordinary times there is nothing remarkable in the action of the surface of the lake. Its waves rise and fall, and surf beats on the shore, just like the ocean. Nor is its color dissimilar to that of the sea. The water has an oily feel, owing possibly to the saponification of the lime and other earthy salts with the perspiration of the skin, and this seems to have led some observers to attribute to it a greasy look; but such a look exists in imagination only. It is quite transparent, of an opalescent green tint, and is compared by Lynch (ibid. p. 337) to diluted absinthe. Lynch (p. 296) distinctly contradicts the assertion that it has any smell, noxious or not. So do the chemists who have analyzed it. One or two phenomena of the surface may be mentioned. Many of the old travelers, and some modern ones (as Osburn, Pal. Past and Present, p. 443, and Churton, Land of the Morning, p. 149), mention that the turbid, yellow stream of the Jordan is distinguishable for a long distance in the lake. Molyneux (p. 129) speaks of a "curious broad strip of white foam which appeared to lie in a straight line nearly north and south throughout the whole length of the sea... some miles west of the mouth of the Jordan" (comp. Lynch, Narrative, p. 279, 295). "It seemed to be constantly bubbling and in motion, like a stream that runs rapidly through still water; while nearly over this track during both nights we observed in the sky a white streak like a cloud extending also north and south, and as far as the eye could reach." Lines of foam on the surface are mentioned by others, as Robinson (Physical Geography, 1, 503), Borrer (Journey, etc., p. 479), Lynch (Narrative, p. 288). From Ain-Jidy a current was observed by Mr.
Clowes's party running steadily to the north not far from the shore (comp. Lynch, ibid. p. 291). It is possibly an eddy caused by the influx of the Jordan. Both De Saulcy (Narrative, Jan. 8) and Robinson (Physical Geography, 1, 504) speak of spots and belts of water remaining smooth and calm while the rest of the surface was rippled, and presenting a strong resemblance to islands (comp. Lynch, Narrative, p. 288; Irby, Travels, June 5). The haze or mist which perpetually broods over the water has already been mentioned. It is the result of the prodigious evaporation. Lynch continually mentions it. Irby (June 1) saw it in broad transparent columns, like waterspouts, only very much larger. Extraordinary effects of mirage, due to the unequal refraction produced by the heat and moisture, are occasionally seen (Lynch, Narrative, p. 320). The remarkable weight of this water is due to the very large quantity of mineral salts which it holds in solution. The details of the various analyses are given in the following table, accompanied by that of seawater for comparison. From that of the United States expedition it appears that each gallon of the water, weighing 12 1/4 lbs., contains nearly 3½ lbs. (3.319) of matter in solution — an immense quantity when we recollect that seawater, weighing 10 1/4 lbs. per gallon, contains less than 1/2 lb. Of this 3 1/3 lbs. nearly 1 lb. is common salt (chloride of sodium), about 2 lbs. chloride of magnesium, and less than 1/2 lb. chloride of calcium (or muriate of lime). The most unusual ingredient is bromide of magnesium, which exists in a truly extraordinary quantity. To its presence is due the therapeutic reputation enjoyed by the lake when its water was sent to Rome for wealthy invalids (Galen, in Reland, Paloest. p. 242) or lepers flocked to its shores (Ant. Mart. § 10). Boussingault (Ann. de Chimie, 1856, 48, 168) remarks that if ever bromide should become an article of commerce, the Dead Sea will be the natural source for it. It is the magnesian compounds which impart so nauseous and bitter a flavor to the water. The quantity of common salt in solution is very large. Lynch found (Narraative, p. 377) that while distilled water would dissolve 5/17 of its weight of salt, and the water of the Atlantic 1/6, the water of the Dead Sea was so nearly saturated as only to be able to take up 1/11. The above differences in the analysis of the water of the Dead Sea must be expected. When the sea is flooded by freshets, the amount of salts in solution will be less; when low, after the evaporation of the summer, the amount will be more. The presence of these foreign ingredients in such quantities is easily accounted for. The washings of the salt range of Usdum, and numerous brackish springs along the shores, supply the salt; the great sulphur fountain at Callirrhoe, and many others on the north and west, with the sulphur, bitumen, iron, etc., found so abundantly in the later deposits, supply the other ingredients. It is known also that large masses of bitumen are occasionally forced up from the bed of the sea; and it may be that beneath its waves are fountains and deposits more numerous and more remarkable than those in the surrounding rocks and plains. Then, too, the constant evaporation takes away the pure water, but leaves behind all the salts, which are thus gradually increasing in quantity.
Of the temperature of the water more observations are necessary before any inferences can be drawn. Lynch (Report, May 5) states that a stratum at 59° Fahr. is almost invariably found at ten fathoms below the surface. Between Wady Zerka and Ain-Terabeh the temperature at surface was 76°, gradually decreasing to 62° at 1044 feet deep, with the exception just named (Narrative, p. 374). At other times, and in the lagoon, the temperature ranged from 82° to 90°, and from 5° to 10° below that of the air (ibid. p. 310-320; comp. Poole, Nov. 2). Dr. Stewart (Tent and Khan, p. 381), on March 11, 1854, found the Jordan 60° Fahr. and the Dead Sea (north end) 73°; the temperature of the air being 83° in the former case and 78° in the latter.
The water is fatal to animal life; and this fact, according to Jerome, originated the name Dead Sea (Ad Ezech. 48, 8; comp. Galen, De Simpl. 4, 19). Shells and small fish, in a dead or dying state, have been picked up along the northern shore, and are found in some of the little fountains along the western coast; but they are all of foreign importation. Recent investigations have led some to suppose that the Dead Sea does contain and support a few inferior organizations, but the fact has not as yet been established on conclusive evidence. Lying in this deep caldron, encompassed by naked white cliffs and white plains, exposed during a great part of the year to the unclouded beams of a Syrian sun, it is not strange that the shores of the Dead Sea should exhibit an almost unexampled sterility and a death-like solitude; nor is it strange that in a rude and unscientific age the sea should have become the subject of wild and wondrous superstitions. "Seneca relates that bricks would not sink in it. Early travelers describe the lake as an infernal region; its black and fetid waters always emitting a noisome smoke or vapor, which, being driven over the land, destroys allegetation like a frost. Hence, too, the popular report that birds cannot fly over its deadly waters" (Robinson, Physical
Geography, p. 199). Such stories are fabulous. It is true that the tropical heat causes immense evaporation, the exhalations from the sulphurous springs and marshes taint the air for miles, and the miasma of the swamps on the north and south gives rise to fevers, and renders the ordinary inhabitants feeble and sickly; but this has no necessary connection with the Dead Sea, or the character of its waters. The marshes of Iskanderfin are much more unhealthy than any part of the Ghor. Wherever a copious fountain bubbles up along the shores, or a mountain streamlet affords water for irrigation, tangled thickets of tropical trees, shrubs, and flowers spread out their foliage. There birds sing as sweetly as in more genial climes, and the Arab pitches his tent like his brethren on the Eastern plateau, and an abundant harvest rewards the labors of the husbandman. Tristram exclaims with something of enthusiasm, "What a sanitarium Engedi might be made, if it were only accessible, and some enterprising speculator were to establish a hydropathic establishment! Hot water, cold water, and decidedly salt water baths, all supplied by nature on the spot, the hot sulphur springs only three miles off, and some of the grandest scenery man ever enjoyed, in an atmosphere where half a lung is sufficient for respiration" (The Land of Israel, p. 295).
III. Origin and History. — It is a question of the highest importance, and one which has created much controversy among scientific and Biblical students, whether the present physical aspect of the Jordan valley and shores of the Dead Sea tends to throw any light upon its origin and changes, or upon the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Our knowledge of the physical structure of the Jordan valley, and of the various strata and deposits along the shores of the Dead Sea, is not yet sufficiently extensive or minute to enable us to construct a satisfactory theory on the points at issue; but it may be well to state here in a few simple propositions what are the actual statements made in Scripture about the Dead Sea, and what are the facts which scientific investigation, so far as hitherto prosecuted, has established.
1. The references to the Dead Sea in Scripture are few, and mostly incidental. Three passages deserve special attention.
(1.) In Ge 13:10, where the sacred writer relates the story of the separation of Abraham and Lot, he represents the two as standing on the mountain-top east of Bethel. He then says, "Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain (or circuit) of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar." It has been inferred from this that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the whole plain around them, must have been in sight at the time referred to, and must therefore have been situated at the northern end of the Dead Sea, which alone is visible from the height at Bethel. But a careful examination of the passage shows that this does not follow. The patriarchs looked towards "the circuit of the Jordan." It is not implied that they saw it all, nor is it said that Sodom and Gomorrah were in sight. They saw enough to give them a general idea of the whole region. One thing is evident from the statement: a remarkable change was effected in the plain at the time of the destruction of Sodom. It was fertile and well watered before that event, but manifestly not so, or not so much so, after it. This is corroborated by the narrative in Ge 19:24-25.
(2.) The second passage is Ge 14:2-10, which contains the story of Lot's capture. Ver. 3 is important: "All these (kings) were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the Salt Sea." There cannot be a doubt that the idea here expressed is that the district called in the time of Lot "the vale of Siddim" had become, in the time of the writer, "the Salt Sea," or at least constituted a part of that sea. The Hebrew phrase establishes the identity of the two just as certainly as the similar phrase in ver. 2 establishes the identity of Bela and Zoar. The clause is found in all the ancient MSS. and versions, and in the Targum of Onkelos. Its genuineness rests on the very same basis as the other portions of the narrative. It was manifestly the opinion of Moses that the vale of Siddim was submerged. Another point in the narrative demands attention. The route of the invading host is traced. They attacked the Rephaim in Bashan, then marched southward through Moab and Edom to Paran, on the west side of the Arabah, opposite Edom. There they turned, and after resting at the fountain of Kadesh, they swept the territory of the Amalekites on the south of Judah, and of the Amorites "who dwelt in Engedi." Having thus ravaged all the countries surrounding the cities of the plain, they descended upon their territory from the west. The inhabitants now came out against them, and were marshalled in the vale of Siddim. The exact locality of the vale is not described. It may have been north or it may have been south of Engedi. One thing, however, is certain: if the western shores of the sea were then as they are now, no army could have marched along them from Engedi to Jericho. On the other hand, from Engedi there is a good path southward. It is said, moreover, that "the vale of Siddim was full of bitumen pits" (ver. 10). There is no part of the valley north of the sea to which this would apply; nor, indeed, is there any plain or vale along its shores "full of bitumen pits" at the present day. These facts render it impossible that the vale of Siddim could have been on the plain of Jericho, and they seem to confirm the previous statement that Siddim was submerged. SEE SIDDIM.
(3.) The third passage is Ge 19:24-25: "Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; and he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground." Abraham, when, on the succeeding morning, he reached the mountain brow, "looked towards Sodom and Gomorrah, and towards all the land of the plain, and beheld, and lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace" (ver. 28). As Abraham was at this time residing at Hebron, the view towards the south end of the Dead Sea would have been much more distinct than to the northern end, although the lake itself is visible from Beni-Naim (the traditionary site of Abraham's interview with Jehovah) through gaps in the western mountains (Robinson, Bib. Res. 2, 189). SEE SODOM.
2. The physical facts ascertained by scientific research are as follows: The formation of the great valley of the Jordan must have been long antecedent to historic times, and coeval with the existing mountain ranges; the valley was, at some remote period, filled with water to the level of the ocean; the water has gradually decreased, apparently by evaporation, and has left a number of shorelines, traced by terraces along the mountain sides, all antecedent to historic times; the portion of the Dead Sea north of el-Lisan forms a distinct basin, and appears to have done so from a time long anterior to Abraham. The southern section is different: it is very shallow; its bottom is slimy. "Sulphur springs stud its shores; sulphur is strewn, whether in layers or in fragments, over the desolate plains; and bitumen is ejected, in great, floating masses, from the bottom of the sea, oozes through the fissures of the rocks, is deposited with gravel on the beach, or, as in the Wady Mahawat, appears, with sulphur, to have been precipitated during some convulsion" (Tristram, p. 358), and that at a period long subsequent to the latest diluvial formation, and apparently within the historic period.
There can be no doubt that the destruction of the cities was miraculous. A shower of ignited sulphur was rained upon them. May we not connect this historic fact with the observed fact just stated? Again, it is said that "the plain of Siddim was filled with bitumen pits." Bitumen is inflammable, and, when ignited by the fiery shower, would burn fiercely. May we not also connect this with the phenomena of Wady Mahawat, of which Tristram says, "The whole appearance points to a shower of hot sulphur, and an irruption of bitumen upon it, which would naturally be calcined and impregnated with its fumes?" (p. 356). The sacred writer further says that the vale of Siddim became the Salt Sea, or was submerged. The southern part of the lake is now a muddy flat, covered with a few feet of water. Suppose the vale to have sunk a few feet, or the water to have risen a few feet, after the miraculous destruction of the cities: either supposition would accord with the Biblical narrative, would not be without a parallel in the history of countries exposed to earthquakes and would not be opposed to any results of modern observation; it would accord, besides, with the views of ancient writers and with uniform Jewish tradition (Josephus, Ant. 1, 9; War, 4:8, 4; Reland, p. 254 sq.). This was the view suggested by Dr. Robinson, and sanctioned by the distinguished geologist, Leopold von Buch. In his latest work, published since his death, Robinson says: "It seems to be a necessary conclusion that the Dead Sea extended no farther south than the peninsula, and that the cities destroyed lay on the south of the lake as it then existed. Lot fled from Sodom to Zoar, which was near (Ge 19:20); and Zoar, as we know, was in the mouth of Wady Kerak as it opens upon the neck of the peninsula. The fertile plain, therefore, which Lot chose for himself, where Sodom was situated, and which was well watered, like the land of Egypt, lay also south of the lake 'as thou comest to Zoar' (Ge 13:10-11). Even to the present day, more living streams flow into the Ghor at the south end of the sea, from wadys of the eastern mountains, than are found so near together in all Palestine besides. Tracts of exuberant fertility are still seen along the streams, though elsewhere the district around the southern bay is almost desert" (Physical Geogr. of the Holy Land, p. 213). Notwithstanding the arguments and almost contemptuous insinuations of some recent writers, not a single fact has been adduced calculated to overthrow this view; but, on the contrary, each new discovery seems as if a new evidence in its favor.
3. Later and Modern Notices. — It does not appear probable that, with the above exception, the condition or aspect of the lake in ancient times was materially different from what it is at present. Other parts of Syria may have deteriorated in climate and appearance, owing to the destruction of the wood which once covered them; but there are no traces either of the ancient existence of wood in the neighborhood of the lake, or of anything which would account for its destruction, supposing it to have existed. A few spots-such as Ain-Jidy, the mouth of the Wady Zuweireh, and that of the Wady ed-Draa — were more cultivated, and, consequently, more populous, than they are under the discouraging influences of Mohammedanism. But such attempts must always have been partial, confined to the immediate neighborhood of the fresh springs and to a certain degree of elevation, and ceasing directly irrigation was neglected. In fact, the climate of the shores of the lake is too sultry and trying to allow of any considerable amount of civilized occupation being conducted there. Nothing will grow without irrigation, and artificial irrigation is too laborious for such a situation. The plain of Jericho, we know, was cultivated like a garden; but the plain of Jericho is very nearly on a level with the spring of Ain-Jidy, some 600 feet above the Ghor el-Lisan, the Ghor es-Safieh, or other cultivable portions of the beach of the Dead Sea. Of course, so far as the capabilities of the ground are concerned (provided there is plenty of water), the hotter the climate, the better; and it is not too much to say that if some system of irrigation could be carried out and maintained, the plain of Jericho, and still more the shores of the lake (such as the peninsula and the southern plain), might be the most productive spots in the world. But this is not possible, and the difficulty of communication with the external world would alone be (as it must always have been) a serious bar to any great agricultural efforts in this district.
When Machaerus and Callirrhoe were inhabited (if, indeed, the former was ever more than a fortress, or the latter a bathing establishment occasionally resorted to), and when the plain of Jericho was occupied with the crowded population necessary for the cultivation of its balsam gardens, vineyards, sugar plantations, and palm groves, there may have been a little more life on the shores. But this can never have materially affected the lake. The track along the western shore and over Ain-Jidy was then, as now, used for secret marauding expeditions, not for peaceable or commercial traffic. What transport there may have been between Idumaea and Jericho came by some other channel. Josephus appears to state that the Moabites crossed the sea to invade Judah (Ant. 9, 1, 2); and he informs us that the Romans used boats against the fugitive Jews (War, 4:7, 6; comp. 4:8, 4). A
doubtful passage in Josephus (see Reland, Paloest. p. 252), and a reference by Edrisi (ed. Jaubert, in Ritter, Jordan, p. 700) to an occasional venture by the people of "Zara and Dara" in the 12th century, are all the remaining allusions to the navigation of the lake known to exist, until Englishmen and Americans launched their boats on it for purposes of scientific investigation. The temptation to the dwellers in the environs must always have been to ascend to the fresher air of the heights, rather than descend to the sultry climate of the shores. It is not strange that the Dead Sea was never navigated to any extent: fish do not exist in it, and the sterile character of the shores made water transit of little importance.
Costigan, an Irish traveler, was the first, in modern times, to navigate this Sea of Death. Having descended the Jordan in a little boat, he crossed to the peninsula of Lisan. For three days he had no fresh water, and he was carried to Jerusalem to die. No record of his journey has been found. In 1837 Moore and Beek had a light boat conveyed from Jaffa. They succeeded in visiting some points, and making a few experiments with boiling-water, which were the first to prove that the lake was below the level of the ocean. Ten years later, Lieutenant Molyneux, of the British navy, took a boat down the Jordan, visited the peninsula, and took some soundings. He was able to return to his ship, but died shortly afterwards. A brief record of his voyage is given in the Journal of the R.G.S. vol. 18. The expedition of Lynch, in 1848, was the only one crowned with success. This was in part owing to the superior organization and strength of the party, and in part to the fact that it was undertaken at a comparatively cool season — April and May. Even this, however, was too late; several of the party took fever, and one — Lieutenant Dale — died. The unfortunate expeditions of Costigan and Molyneux were made in July and August respectively. Winter is the proper season for any such undertaking. Rain seldom falls on the shores; the air, during the depth of winter, is fresh and balmy, and cold is almost unknown.
Josephus gives a brief description of the Dead Sea (War, 4:8, 4); and several Greek and Roman authors, scientific as — well as geographical, speak of its wonders. Extracts from the principal of these may be seen in Reland's Paloestina (p. 238-258). Among modern writers, the following may be consulted with advantage: Seetzen, in Zach's Monatliche Correspondenz, vols. 17, 18, 26, 27; Burckhardt, Travels in Syria; Irby and Mangles, Travels; Wilson, Lands of the Bible; Ritter, Pal. und Syr. 2, 557-780; Poole, in Journal of R.G.S. vol. 26. The books containing the fullest and latest accounts are: Robinson, Bib. Res. 1, 501-523; 2, 187-192; andPhysical Geogr. of Pal. p. 187-216; De Saulcy, Voyage autour de la Mer Morte, and Voyage en Terre-Sainte; Tristram, The Land of Israel, p. 242-366; Land of Moab (1873); Lynch, Official Report, which contains Anderson's Geological Reconnaissance (published at the National Observatory, Washington, 1852); Ridgaway, The Lord's Land, p. 344-464. There is an old monograph on the Dead Sea by Wahner, De יִ ם הִמֶּלִח (Helmst. 1712); and a recent one by Fraas, Das todte Meer (Stuttg. 1867). SEE DEAD SEA.