Werner Braun

The Salt Sea, or Yam Hamelach, is the fitting Hebrew name for the Dead Sea, where salt formations appear to sprout from the water’s surface. About 10 miles wide and 53 miles long, the earth’s most saline body of water is also the lowest point on earth, lying 1,305 feet below sea level.

Although the salt prevents any but the most minute organisms from living underwater, it encourages activity on the surface: The salt makes boats more buoyant, allowing them to support loads far heavier than those usually carried on other waters. The sea also provides valuable raw materials for trade, including salt and bitumen, or asphalt.