BAR 38:02, Mar/Apr 2012
Death at the Dead Sea
If I were to ask you to guess where the largest group of cemeteries in the ancient world—with tens of thousands of graves—was located, where would you say? Outside some thriving ancient metropolis? In some verdant landscape redolent of Eden? The last place in the world that would probably come to mind would be the desolation and harshness of the lowest spot on earth. Yet that is where it is, southeast of the Dead Sea in modern Jordan.
More specifically, these ancient cemeteries are in the ghors (valleys) southeast of the Dead Sea. These ghors are alluvial fans at the mouth of wadis entering the Rift Valley from the east. The Ghor es-Safi, on which this article will primarily focus, lies at the mouth of the Wadi al-Hasa.