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Historic Dead Sea Level Fluctuations Calibrated with Geological and Archaeological Evidence

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Amos Frumkin
Geography Department, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel, 91905
Yoel Elitzur
Eretz-Israel Studies Department, Herzog College, Alon Shevut, Israel, 90433


The Dead Sea, the Holocene terminal lake of the Jordan River catchment, has fluctuated during its history in response to climatic change. Biblical records, calibrated by radiocarbon-dated geological and archaeological evidence, reinforce and add detail to the chronology of the lake-level fluctuations. There are three historically documented phases of the Dead Sea in the Biblical record: low lake levels ca. 2000–1500 B.C.E. (before common era); high lake levels ca. 1500–1200 B.C.E.; and low lake levels between ca. 1000 and 700 B.C.E. The Biblical evidence indicates that during the dry periods the southern basin of the Dead Sea was completely dry, a fact that was not clear from the geological and archaeological data alone.

Research Article
University of Washington

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