The Dead Sea is surrounded by chemical and detrital sediments that were deposited in its larger precursor lakes, Lake Samra and Lake Lisan. The sedimentary history of these lakes was recon-structed by means of 230Th/234U ages of 30 samples, mostly of argonite laminae, from 8 columnar sections up to 110 km apart. The general validity of the ages was demonstrated by subjecting them to tests of internal isotopic consistency, agreement with stratigraphic order, and concordance with 14C ages. In the south, only the part of the Samra Formation older than 170,000 yr is exposed, while the aragonite-detritus rhythmites found in the central and northern region are generally younger than 120,000 yr. The Lisan Formation started accumulating about 63,000 yr B.P., with the clay and aragonite beds in the south-central area reflecting a rise in water level to at least −280 m. The upper part of the Lisan Formation, the aragonite-rich White Cliff Member, started accumulating about 36,000 yr B.P. The lake probably reached its highest level sometime after this, based on the ages of Lisan sediments preserved in the southernmost reaches of the basin.