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in color | the dead sea


The Dead Sea


The lowest point on earth offers natural healing, luxurious resorts, spirituality and a wonderfully rich history, says Sharron Livingston


THE STRETCH OF dark blue water, 42 miles long, has been shimmering in the Judaean sunshine, east of Jerusalem, Israel, for the best part of three million years. Although its name and desert location sound particularly foreboding, the Dead Sea is widely thought to promote health and vitality in ways no other place on earth can. Te moniker is perhaps a little misleading,


as it’s not a sea but a landlocked lake. One of its tributaries is the River Jordan and once there the water is trapped. Te only way out is through


108 | ASTAnetwork | summer 2014


evaporation, explaining the high density of salt and minerals, and the fact little organic life can survive. Tere are no waves, no sounds and the only ripples you’re likely to see are those made by waders, who, unable to swim easily in the dense water, effortlessly float on top. At 1,400ft below sea level, the Dead Sea is


the lowest point on earth, and the air is rich in oxygen. Its year-round sunny climate has just a smattering of rain and temperatures range between 68F in winter and 102F in summer, yet sunbathers are less likely to burn because harmful ultraviolet rays are naturally filtered out. Te shore, with its dazzling white salt rocks, is most famous for its black mud deposits and


its thermo-mineral springs, rich in potassium, bromine, calcium, magnesium and iodine. Te majority of holidaymakers slather themselves in the mud to ease rheumatic discomfort — or simply for the fun of it. It’s well documented that Cleopatra was a


huge fan of the region and decreed that cosmetic factories and resorts be built by the water, creating the world’s first spa. To this day, beauty companies such as Ahava


use the minerals in their skin care products. Local hotels, such as the Isrotel Dead Sea Resort and Spa Club Dead Sea in Ein Bokek, continue the tradition, with dedicated luxury spas offering mud wraps and related treatments.


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