Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Qumran Caves, The Masada, Dead Sea

Our first stop was at the Sea Level altitude marker, where if you wanted to ride a camel, it was available...I declined.
Next up the  Qumran Caves.  The Essenes, a very pure sect of Jews who believed the end was coming, wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were found by a goat of his goats wandered into a cave, so he threw some stones into the cave to get the goat out.  He heard his stone hit something, break.  He went into the cave, and found a broken pot with scrolls.  For awhile, the scrolls were sold piecemeal, as wedding presents, gifts, until the Israeli government could get hold of them.  You can't go into the caves, but there is a little village below the caves, which shows how the Essenes lived. 
Some rooms.
They used the mikvah at least twice a day.
 A mikvah.
An aqueduct...their engineering was so sophisticated.  This is serious desert. They brought water from the Judean Hills.
A cistern.
 One of our tour guides, David Myers, History Chair at UCLA.
Then the Masada.  Masada was a palace, built by Herod in about 30 BCE.  It's famous as one of the last Jewish strongholds when the Romans destroyed the 2nd Temple, and drove the Jews out of Jerusalem.  My cousin Fleet recommended a book to me, The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman.  Historical fiction about how 4 women ended up there...I was so glad I had read the book, it is very factual.  On the way to the Masada, we drove along the Dead Sea.  There are sink holes, and beaches of salt.
 And there it was, the Masada, a tall flat mesa.
We took a cable car up, and walked through the various buildings.
 Everything below the black line is original.  Roman building were always stone against mortar.


 Roman bath with original floors, frescos, tiles.

 The dove cote, with our Israeli guide, Ron Lahad.
 A view of one of the sites of the Roman Legion camp.  They camped all around the Masada, 
 and built a ramp with a huge tower, so they could penetrate the walls.  What remains of the ramp.
As they were about to break through the wall, almost 1000 Jews died by their own hand, rather than be tortured/enslaved/killed by the Romans.  Only a few skeletons were found on a nearby hill...there is some mystery involved. 

On our way back to the cable car, we could see the aqueducts that were built into the sides of the mesa.  They fed into large smart.
It was an incredible experience to be consider how it was built, that at one time is was a fancy palace with hot and cold running water, and then the siege of the final Jewish rebellion.  
Okay, onto the Dead was a blast!  They say you can't swim or drown in the Dead Sea, and I believe it!  You walk into the water, sort of sit, and boom! your legs go up as if you're in a recliner.  The water felt a little oily, but it wasn't.  My skin and hair felt so good afterwards.
 The beach.

Boy were we tired at the end of this day!

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