Richard Nowitz

“But Lot’s wife behind him looked, and she became a pillar of salt” (Genesis 19:26). According to tradition, the pillar below contains the remains of Lot’s hapless spouse. It’s easy to see how the geology of the area gave rise to the tradition—and to the story about Lot’s wife. The Dead Sea is 30 percent salt—far higher than seawater. This not only makes its water inhospitable to almost all forms of life, but also causes striking salt crystal form near the shore. Many of the lake’s surrounding landforms also consist of salt. Rainwater dissolves the salt over time, creating deep furrows and caves. “Lot’s Wife” is simply a natural pillar of salt that was once part of the wall of a salt cave, now collapsed.