Mount of Olives panorama

Mount of Olives panorama
A panoramic view of the Mount of Olives

Monday, December 19, 2011

Masada, Dead Sea, and Qumran

Today while Rachel and Samuel were at school, Elaine and I took Mother and Lindsay on a Dead Sea outing.  First we drove to Masada, then we went to a Dead Sea "beach," and finally we spent a short time in Qumran.  These are all sites that I have blogged about before when we took our classes there on December 4.  There are maps, layouts of sites, and plenty of history recounted there.  Here I will just post some new pictures, many featuring our guests, and recount an anecdote or two from this trip.

To get to all of these sites we literally drive down from Jerusalem on Israeli-controlled roads that are really part of the West Bank/future Palestine.  The Jordan River and especially the Dead Sea lie considerably below sea level, so we took time to stop to get pictures of that:

Masada was not an easy site for Mother.  Event though we took the tram up to the top of the plateau upon which the fortress sits, with her bad knee, arthritic hips, and severe anemia (thanks kidney disease), climbing up and down the many stairs and paths at the top was hard for her.  But she has read about Masada, seen the movie, and was anxious to see as much of it as she could.  At one point when some dark, ominous birds began circling above us, she said they had come for her, hoping that she would not survive!
Helping Mom down the never-ending stairs

But even an in-shape person like Elaine eventually found the stairs to be too much!
Evil birds---some circle above, vulpture-like . . . others come down to confront us, squawking menacingly:

Looking up at Masada

Looking down from Masada at a Roman camp and the Dead Sea beyond
Mother in front of  fresco remnants

The calidarium or "hot room" of a Roman bath, showing the hypocausts below and the heating wall pipes

Lindsay on the lowest terrace of Herod's northern palace

Looking up at the upper two terraces on the northern or "hanging" palace
Mother with the Roman siege ramp behind her
With Mom in the Byzantine church that was built on top of Masada a few centuries later
After we finally made it down from Masada and had had our lunch, we drove to a "beach" across from En Gedi where one can get down into the Dead Sea.  The term "beach" here is used very loosely.  It is quite rocky, and getting down into the water is rather treacherous, so much so in the end Mom was not quite able to get in safely.  she got up to her waist in the smelly, slimy water, however, so she had that much of the experience.

Salt encrusts the stones along the shore

Because of the time we took at both Masada and at the Dead Sea, we did not have much time at Qumran, the site inhabited by the sectarians who produced the Dead Sea Scrolls . . . but we did the basics.

The refrectory or dining hall

One of the many miqveot or ritual baths

So, the sun set on another packed day!

No comments:

Post a Comment