National Geographic : 1978 Feb
centuries until destroyed by Roman legions in A.D. 68. Scrolls of Biblical books and other writings were hidden away in caves at the Romans' approach-not to be found until 1947. A restorer at the Israel Museum works on a fragment (left), removing tape applied by an earlier restorer. an official glanced at my American passport. "You come from where?" he asked. "From... Israel," I said, hesitating. His forehead wrinkled. "No," he said stern ly, "not Israel. From the West Bank. You've been in Jordan all the time." The Jordanians are only beginning to exploit the Dead Sea's touristic and com mercial potential. Whereas the Israelis have built an excellent road along the entire west ern shore, the eastern shore is accessible by car only in the north and south. The middle third of the coast can be reached, if at all, only down a few precipitous canyons. F ROM AMMAN it's less than an hour's drive down to the spa of Suwaymah on the northeast shore. I was surprised to find there a busy public beach, guesthouses, a pleasant cafe, and, of all things, a carnival complete with Ferris wheel, penny-ante gam bling tables, and a magic show. "People in Amman used to go to the Lido," I was told by Jordanian official Shehab Madi. "But, of course, it was lost in 1967, when Is rael seized the West Bank. Now we're build ing up Suwaymah to replace it. We have great plans-a road connecting the north to the south, hotels, health spas.... But, frankly, we worry that, if another war comes, these would be the first places to be hit. It makes it hard to build with enthusiasm. "Still," he smiled, "if you want to experience the Dead Sea as it was in the days of Jesus and John the Baptist, then welcome to Jordan!" For ten surprise-packed days I journeyed along Jordan's wild side of the Dead Sea. I visited Mount Nebo, from whose height Moses looked across the northern end of the Dead Sea to the Promised Land he was never to enter.* I marveled at the hot waterfall at Zarqa Main (page 244), where a series of thermal pools allows you to pick the bath temperature of your choice. These pools are fresh water, not sulfuric-and hence are easier on the nose than the Dead Sea's nor mally foul-smelling hot springs. For sheer lushness Zarqa Main is rivaled on the Dead Sea only by David's Waterfall near En Gedi on the Israeli coast-and David's Waterfall is lukewarm, not bone-soothing hot. Herod the Great, when he stayed at the *The author traveled "In Search of Moses," in the Jan uary 1976 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC.