BAR 30:01, Jan/Feb 2004
Where Lots Daughters Seduced their Father
Excavations Reveal Commemorative Monastery
Perched precariously on a steep, barren slope overlooking the southeastern shore of the Dead Sea, I found the remains of what had once been elegant stone buildingswalls, pieces of metal and glass, tiny mosaic cubes and pottery sherds. It was 1986 and I was conducting a survey with Canadian excavator Burton MacDonald. The site is called Deir Ain Abata, the Monastery of the Abata Spring. It was clear that the site had once been an impressive Byzantine-era complex. But why would anyone build in such an inhospitable and desolate location?
How much longer these archaeological remains would continue to survive was a question. The site was threatened by erosion, by encroaching fields belonging to the villagers of nearby Safi and by looters searching for ancient treasure.