Built at the lowest elevation on earth, museum showcases Dead Sea region’s rich past
In addition to highlighting the unique environmental and geological conditions that make the Dead Sea the lowest elevation on earth, the museum showcases the rich archaeological and cultural heritage of the diverse populations that have inhabited Zoar (Zoora) and the shores of the Dead Sea over the millennia. Visitors to the Lot’s cave museum can even see 4,500-year-old pottery excavated from the sites of Bab edh-Dhra and Numeira, thought by many to be the Biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah from which Lot and his daughters fled.**
Ancient tombstones recovered from the region’s many cemeteries help tell the story of the Arab, Jewish and Christian communities that lived and died in Zoar (Zoora) in the Hellenized, cosmopolitan world of late antiquity. Still another exhibit features finds from the Monastery of Saint Lot, including delicately-crafted architectural pieces and mosaics from the Byzantine period, and even Bronze Age ceramics recovered from inside Lot’s cave. A final gallery displays objects from Ghor es-Safi’s more recent past, including artifacts from the intensive sugar industry that flourished in Zoar (Zoora) during the Mamluk period (13th–16th centuries), as well as handicrafts and daily implements used by the Bedouin and villagers who live in the area today.
In addition, visitors to the new Lot’s cave museum can sit in a small indoor theater and enjoy short films about the project’s mosaic conservation efforts or the geology of the Dead Sea and the Rift Valley. In the near future, the museum will also feature a number of special exhibits on the archaeology of the Zoar (Zoora) region, ranging from “Seafaring on the Dead Sea” to “Zoar’s Pottery Through the Ages.”
Other than Israel, no country has as many Biblical sites and associations as Jordan: Mount Nebo, from where Moses gazed at the Promised Land; Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John baptized Jesus; Lot’s Cave, where Lot and his daughters sought refuge after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; and many more. Travel with us on our journey into the past in our free eBook Exploring Jordan.
* See Konstantinos Politis, “Where Lot’s Daughters Seduced Their Father,” Biblical Archaeology Review, January/February 2004.
** See Hershel Shanks, “Have Sodom and Gomorrah Been Found?” Biblical Archaeology Review, September/October 1980.
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I have heard that there is a town nearby that was at or near the ancient city of Zoar. Did you find this to be the case?
Kitty and I just visited in NOV13. The museum was a nice -smallish- archive of excavated and period artifacts. The monastery excavation above was truly an amazing historical site. While in the museum I do not recall seeing the large, well lit hall displayed here on the website. The theater was there, but not in service. We did see some cave artifacts, mosaic reconstructions, two headstones, some excellent geology, geography and history explanations as well as the sugar trade artifacts. There were some handicrafts made by local women on sale. The museum attendant was helpful with the log book and our purchase, but otherwise he remained at the desk.
We were in the smaller of the two buildings, the one to the left inside the gate. There was no signage for access to the other building.
The well maintained driveway between the buildings is unmarked but leads your auto up to the small parking lot at the base of the climb to Lot’s cave, proper. There are two, tight switchbacks on the way. Drive up and walk the 300 steps to the top. Well worth it. If you would like to stop for a photo on the way up, there is a nice stone bench with an awesome Dead Sea view near step 155.
Go do it,