Jordan – Mount Nebo & the Dead Sea

– AUGUST 30-31, 2015

Mount Nebo was inhabited since remote antiquity.  However, its real fame derived from the biblical event that occurred upon it as described in the Book of Deuteronomy 34: the death of Prophet Moses, who climbed this holy mountain at the end of his life to see the promised land:

Then Moses went up from the lowlands of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, eastwards from Jericho.  And the Lord showed him the whole land.  There in the land of Moab Moses the servant of the Lord died, as the Lord had said.  He was buried in a valley in Moab opposite Beth-Peor; but to this day no one knows his burial place“.

Mount Nebo rises from the Transjordanian plateau 7km west of the city of Madaba.  It is bounded on the east by the Wadi Afrit, on the north by the Wadi Uyun Musa, on the south by the Wadi al-Judaydah which extends into the Wadi al-Kanaysah.

Mount Nebo’s highest crest reaches an altitude of 800m above sea level.  The other peaks are slightly lower.  Of these, the two most historically important are the western peak of Siyagha with the Memorial Church of Moses, and the south-eastern peak of al-Mukhayyat, identified with the Town of Nebo.

A serpentine cross sculpture (the Brazen Serpent) atop Mount Nebo was created by Italian artist Giovanni Fantoni.  It is a symbolic of the bronze serpent created by Moses in the wilderness and the cross upon which Jesus was crucified.

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Mount Nebo – The Brazen Serpent Monument

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Mount Nebo – Abu badd (rolling stone used as a door of Byzantine Monastery)

After more than 80 years of work, the best result of the Franciscan work on the mountain is the wealth of mosaic floors discovered.  On Mount Nebo, in the Sanctuary of Moses and the surrounding monastic buildings atop Siyagha, in the Churches of the village of Khirbat al-Mukhayyat, and in the villages of Uyun Musa and Ayn al-Kanisah, a concentration of mosaic works had been preserved which are fundamental to understanding the development of Byzantine-Umayyad mosaic art in the territory of Madaba from the 4th to the second half of the 8th century.

These mosaics are a precious archive for the history of the Christian community of the diocese of Madaba and of the monastic presence on the mountain.

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Mount Nebo – original mosiacs

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Mount Nebo – original mosiacs

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Mount Nebo – original mosaics

The Dead Sea is a salt lake bordered by Jordan to the east and Israel/Palestine to the west.  Its surface and shores are 429m below sea level, Earth’s lowest elevation on land.  The Dead Sea is 304m deep, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world.  With 34.2% salinity, it is also one of the world’s saltiest bodies of water.  This salinity makes for a harsh environment in which animals cannot flourish, hence its name.  The Dead Sea is 50km long and 15km wide at its widest point.  The Dead Sea water has a density of 1.24 kg/litre, which makes swimming similar to floating.

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The Dead Sea – Earth’s lowest elevation on land

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The Dead Sea – Movenpick Resort

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The Dead Sea – Movenpick Resort

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The Dead Sea – Movenpick Resort

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The Dead Sea – Movenpick Resort

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The Dead Sea – Movenpick Resort

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The Dead Sea – Movenpick Resort

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The Dead Sea – Movenpick Resort

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The Dead Sea – Movenpick Resort

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The Dead Sea – Movenpick Resort

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The Dead Sea – Movenpick Resort

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The Dead Sea – Movenpick Resort

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The Dead Sea – Movenpick Resort

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The Dead Sea – Movenpick Resort

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The Dead Sea – Movenpick Resort

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The Dead Sea – Movenpick Resort

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The Dead Sea – Movenpick Resort

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The Dead Sea – Movenpick Resort

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The Dead Sea – Movenpick Resort

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The Dead Sea – Beach stones with crusted Dead Sea minerals

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The Dead Sea – Beach stones with crusted Dead Sea minerals

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The Dead Sea – Beach stones with crusted Dead Sea minerals

The putative therapies people look to correct by visiting the Dead Sea are Psoriasis, Rhinosinusitis, and Osteoarthritis.

The Dead Sea is called “dead” because its high salinity prevents macroscopic aquatic organisms, such as fish and aquatic plants, from living in it, though miniscule quantities of bacteria and microbial fungi are present.

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The Dead Sea

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The Dead Sea – You instantly float in the Dead Sea and cannot sink

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The Dead Sea – You instantly float in the Dead Sea and cannot sink

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The Dead Sea – You instantly float in the Dead Sea and cannot sink

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The Dead Sea

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The Dead Sea – You instantly float in the Dead Sea and cannot sink

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The Dead Sea – You can see the slick layers of minerals floating on the Dead Sea water

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The Dead Sea

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The Dead Sea – Mud Bath coating

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The Dead Sea – Mud Bath coating

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The Dead Sea – Mud Bath coating

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The Dead Sea – You need to shower off immediately after exiting the Dead Sea. The minerals start to annoy the skin after too much time.

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The Dead Sea

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The Dead Sea

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The Dead Sea – So long Dead Sea

We are taking a late taxi to the Amman airport to catch a very early morning flight to Egypt tomorrow.  The Dead Sea is a place we will definitely return to in the future.  Jordan was amazing.

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For more photos of our adventure go to our flickr account here.