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Ancient Ein Gedi

Ein Gedi is an oasis on the western shore of the Dead Sea and the lowest point on earth some 400 meters below sea level. Extreme heat and aridity prevail in this desert region throughout most of the year. But perennial fresh water springs (Ein is Hebrew for spring) flow down from the high cliffs of the Judean Desert and have made permanent settlement and agriculture possible since ancient times.

In the Chalcolithic period (4th millennium BC) a temple was erected at the Ein Gedi oasis which served as a cultic center for the nomadic tribes of the region. The temple compound was built on a rock terrace above the spring. It consisted of several separate single-roomed stone structures built around a large courtyard which was surrounded by a wall.

During the biblical period Ein Gedi and the surrounding desert known as the Wilderness of Ein Gedi were part of the territory of the Tribe of Judah. David sought refuge from King Saul at Ein Gedi.

During the Persian Period (5th-4th centuries BC) the village grew in area. Among the buildings was a prominent large structure probably two stories high. It had many rooms, courtyards and storerooms in which numerous artifacts including royal seal impressions were found. These attest to the continuing importance of the village ...

The History of the Ancient Near East Electronic Compendium