Lot’s Cave Museum at Ancient Zoar (Zoora)
Built at the lowest elevation on earth, museum showcases Dead Sea region’s rich past
Biblical Archaeology Society Staff
February 17, 2012
Located 1,329 feet below sea level at the southern edge of the Dead Sea, the aptly-named Museum at the Lowest Place on Earth is set to open this spring. The museum will feature important archaeological finds recovered from the Ghor es-Safi region of Jordan (ancient Zoar/Zoora), including artifacts from Lot’s cave.
After years of planning and construction, a new, multimillion-dollar museum, built only yards from the Byzantine monastery that commemorates Lot’s cave and his flight from the ill-fated cities of Sodom and Gomorrah,*
is opening this spring at the southeastern end of the Dead Sea. Situated at 1,329 feet below sea level (the lowest elevation on earth) in the Ghor es-Safi region of Jordan (ancient Zoar [or Zoora]), the aptly-named Museum at the Lowest Place on Earth anticipates opening its doors to visitors in April.
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.
The new Lot’s cave museum, located at the lowest elevation on earth southeast of the Dead Sea, is filled with well-lit gallery spaces that showcase the many finds made by Dr. Konstantinos Politis and others in Biblical Zoar (Zoora).
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.