Garo Nalbandian

OASIS IN THE DESERT. For thousands of years the hot springs of Callirhoë, located on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea, have been a popular spa-like attraction for those suffering from manifold maladies that the mineral-rich hot waters are thought to cure—or at least alleviate. According to Josephus, Herod the Great came here just before he died in 4 B.C.E., seeking relief from his various maladies, which included terrible pains in his colon, labored, high-pitched breathing and spasms in his limbs. A prominent site, especially in the Herodian period, Callirhoë is also described in the writings of Pliny the Elder (first century B.C.E.) and Ptolemaus (second century C.E.), in addition to being depicted on the famous sixth-century C.E. Madaba map. Three structures identify the site on the map: (1) a round pool or spring, (2) a square building with an apse (probably a nymphaeum, or elaborate fountain) and (3) a basin divided in two parts that is fed by a water channel from the mountains. All three of these structures had outlet channels leading down to the Dead Sea.