Our first stop of the day was at the historic ruins of Beit Shean. This place receives very little notice in the Bible (its only mention being that this is where King Saul and his sons' bodies were hung on city walls after their defeat in battle), but it was a tremendously significant place throughout much of ancient history. The hill in the background is called a "tell", and is the result of layer upon layer of cities being built on top of each other. The last people group to inhabit Beit Shean were the Romans, before an earthquake destroyed the place. Much excavation work has been done to unearth the city as it used to appear, but there is still so much more to be discovered! I thoroughly enjoyed the living history lessons to be found at this place!
This was the main road of Beit Shean during the Roman era and went right through the middle of town with columns lining the sides.
Ancient Greek inscriptions in the road.
Evidence of the earthquake that destroyed the city. (I should have thought to stand next to one of these pillars to give a size perspective. They were absolutely massive!)
Some classic Roman archways.
One thing the Romans really liked were their bath houses. They can be found at nearly every major Roman site! Here is evidence of how they heated the "hot room" (i.e. sauna) with state of the art underground piping!
A look back at Beit Shean from the tell.
And yes, I climbed to the top of that tell at six and a half months pregnant! The views were outstanding!
A public restroom.
Equipped with more state of the art ceramic piping that brought in fresh water which ran the perimeter of the building, carrying away the human waste in its current. Pretty ingenius, if you ask me!
In which Nathan demonstrates how such toilets were utilized back in the day...
A glimpse of the beauty that once characterized this ancient city.
The local theater (which would have been three stories high; this was just the first level).
Our next stop of the day was another Jordan River site. This is the place where many people believe Jesus was baptized by John.
It was literally on the border with the country of Jordan, which you can see pictured here, right across the water.
Quite a different look from the portion of the Jordan River we saw up north near its head waters where all was blue and pristine! This is what happens to the river as it travels southward throughout the country. Needless to say, I wasn't anxious to take a dip!
Israeli military were stationed here since we were so close to the country of Jordan.
Next up was a hot stop at Qumran, where the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered.
Notice all the little caves in this area!
And there is the Dead Sea itself in the opposite direction (which, by the way, was way more blue than I expected it to look!).
THE cave where the scrolls were hidden for so long before being discovered by a humble goatherder.
Qumran was another historically rich location to see and experience, but I'll admit I was glad that our stop here was relatively short, because it was HOT!
After finishing up at Qumran, we drove down the road a ways to the resort area of the Dead Sea. Hotels upon hotels are available here, all specializing in health spas featuring Dead Sea minerals as well as beach access to the Sea itself. It was a beautiful area for being in the smack middle of the desert! This was the entrance to our hotel. (Note: we did not stay at the Daniel; I was taking a picture of the gorgeous flowers lining our circular drive.)
A close up of the landscaping. I'm thinking this might a tiny taste of life in Hawaii?
Hello from the Dead Sea!
Now I can say I have floated in this famous body of water! It was quite the experience. The water left me feeling like a thin layer of slime covered my body. And it was really weird being so buoyant. There wasn't much to do besides walk in, float, take a picture, and dry off, so our time in the water was short, but memorable.
Meanwhile, since our hotel featured such beautiful grounds, we decided to walk around and enjoy the environment.
Relaxing after another big day of touring.
Didn't you always want to sit in an egg chair?