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The Dead Sea lies at the bottom of the Syrian-African Rift Valley, about 400 meters (1280 feet) below sea level. Known in Biblical times as the Eastern Sea, the Romans called it Mare Mortuum and the Israeli Geographic office called it The Sea of Salt. This remnant of the sea, which covered the area over two million years ago, is the lowest natural place on Earth. Its depth ranges from 1376 feet (430 meters) in the north to 10 meters (32 feet ) in the south.
The waters of the Dead Sea are very unique, having a total salt concentration that is approximately 10 times higher than ocean water, reaching 33% versus 3%. The composition of the brine is also unique, comprising magnesium, potassium and calcium chlorides, in addition to a high concentration of bromides.
This extraordinary chemical composition has made the Dead Sea an ideal spot for people seeking relief from skin and rheumatic disorders, and an equally popular choice for vacationers seeking relaxation. In fact, these soothing miracle-working waters have a reputation that dates back over 2000 years when the Roman historian Flavius noted, “The Dead Sea cannot be praised too highly. Travelers take this salt home because it heals the human body and is therefore used in many medicines.”
Throughout history there are well know references to the the therapeutic effects of bathing in the Dead Sea. Galenus, a Roman physician from the first century CE, stated that this salt water was good for the treatment of arthritis, eczema, muscular pain, rheumatism, psoriasis, and also to relieve tension, aid relaxation, and develop smooth silky skin. Tradition holds that King Solomon presented the Queen of Sheba with Dead Sea salts upon her visit to the Holy Land and that the Empress Cleopatra,was an ardent user of Dead Sea beauty formulations.
Today, the Dead Sea continues to be a mecca for people seeking relief from a host of ailments. Modern science has worked to prove it’s therapeutic and rejuvenating properties which are attributed not only to the hypersalinity of the lake but also to its placement on earth and the resulting air quality of the region. As in ancient times, the Dead Sea is still a renowned center for natural health and beauty treatments, with people coming from around the world to take the waters.