The Dead Sea (Al-Bahr al-Mayyit / البحر الميت) is the lowest elevation point on planet Earth, reaching 393 meters (1,289 ft.) below sea level. It is actually in fact a lake - the deepest hypersaline lake in the world. Spanning from 51 kilometers (31 miles) in length to 15 kilometers (9 miles) in width at its widest point, The Dead Sea is located in between the border of present day Jordan and occupied Palestine. Due to its unusually high concentrations of salt, plants and animals are unable to reside within this unique body of water. Consequently, The Dead Sea was named after its uninhabitable living environment. Though, upon recent discoveries, scientists using specialized diving equipment have found tiny amounts of microscopic bacteria and microbial fungi surrounding freshwater springs deep within the lake. Thus revealing that living organisms are indeed surviving within The Dead Sea!
Man floating and reading a newspaper in the Dead Sea
Water within The Dead Sea has been a huge area for health research as it carries one of the highest concentrations of mineral content on Earth. It has nearly eight times more minerals than the average seawater, including magnesium, boron, zinc, calcium, and potassium, along with numerous others. The high mineral contents of the water have shown to have explicit health benefits for the human body. Today people coat their bodies with the mud of The Dead Sea as a sort of therapy skin treatment to prevent skin aging and sustain healthy radiant skin. The salt from The Dead Sea water is also used as a natural exfoliant within skin care products. This natural remedy allows for the removal of dead cells from the surface of the skin, as well as treatments of small infections for rejuvenation.
Additional amenities found within The Dead Sea include the discharge of asphalt, which was in fact a provider for balms within historic Egyptian mummifications. This asphalt was not only used to keep insects and fungi out of mummified bodies, but to protect the human flesh from decaying as well. This was a major concern for the Ancient Egyptians, which drove asphalt of The Dead Sea to be an extremely important item of trade. Throughout history The Dead Sea has supplied a wide variety of products. Within the early 1930’s, the Palestine Potash Company was once the largest industrial sites within the Middle East. The potash of The Dead Sea, supplied half of Britain’s potash fertilizer during World War II. Currently, the company is now state-owned by Israel Chemicals, which generates $3 billion US dollars annually from the sale of Dead Sea minerals.
Unearthing Seven Remarkable Facts of The Dead Sea
- Scientists have drilled below The Dead Sea discovering it disappearance of the entire lake 120,000 years ago, before the Ice Age, during a particularly warm period in time.
- The Dead Sea water comprises precisely 33.7% salinity and is nearly nine times saltier than that of average ocean water.
- The asphalt retrieved from The Dead Sea is a black substance that is constantly being spit up from deep holes within the ground.
- The ancient Egyptians were some of the very first customers of The Dead Sea as the excretion of asphalt from the water was used within balms for mummifications.
- Archaeologists have discovered skulls from the Neolithic period (the later part of The Stone Age) within The Dead Sea.
- The water within The Dead Sea contains a higher density than that of human bodies, allowing for one to float perfectly atop the lake, even with no prior experience in swimming.
- The world’s lowest road frames this lake at 393 meters (1,289 ft.) below sea level.
The Dead Sea is one of the most popular historical attractions within the Middle East. Yet today within the West Bank, where the Palestinian Dead Sea coast is 40 kilometers (25 miles) long, Palestinians are unable to obtain construction permits for use in tourism investments. Due to the impact of Joint Committees under the establishment of the Oslo Agreement, it has become virtually impossible for the Palestinian economy to procure any benefits due to such restricted access within their own homelands. The World Bank estimates $290 million in revenues as well as nearly 3,000 jobs, which could be generated per year amid the permission of permit approvals. This estimate does not include, the restriction of access for investment of chemical use, which has the aptitude to generate $918 million per year; almost equal to the entire sector of manufacture within Palestine today.
Nevertheless, The Dead Sea is an endorheic body of water, enclosed by land on all sides while retaining water without any outflow to external bodies. Thus the only drainage that occurs is either through seepage, or evaporation, making it extremely susceptible to climate change. Recent effects of global warming have caused the lake to consecutively shrink at a shocking rate of one meter (3 ft.) each year. Thus, the complete disappearance of the lake holds another realistic, new concern within the region.