• Wadi Hemar

    Temporarily abandon the nomadic life to rest where some of the earliest initiators of the Agricultural Revolution settled.

Just north of the Abraham Path route, the valley of Nahal Hemar contains the cave in which some of the world’s oldest ritual artifacts have been unearthed. Located on a cliff near the Dead Sea northwest of Mt. Sdom, the material culture of the site predates the Agricultural Revolution. First excavated in 1983, the items unearthed by these excavations are considered some of the most distinct artifacts from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period (around 8500-5500 BCE) and include statues, wooden beads, bone tools, arrowheads, nets, rope baskets, decorated skulls, threads, cloth, and fragments of masks.

It is likely that the famous masks, beads, and skulls found in this cave were part of ritual ceremonies for a range of purposes. The construction of the masks themselves retains evidence that they were modeled off the faces of deceased persons and are thus thought to have had ties to particular ancestors and an importance in ancestral worship.

While most of the artifacts are currently housed in the Israel Museum, the site alone provides ample reason to visit. As you approach the site, be sure to take in the immensity of the place as the shallow desert wadi gives way to a massive canyon where a beautiful waterfall forms in wet seasons, dropping and meandering its way down to the Dead Sea. Although hiking in the wetter seasons is advisable for the beautiful views, precautions should be taken regarding the possibility of flash floods in the canyon.  Even when flash flooding is a concern, dedicated sources of water are unreliable in the region; plenty of water should be brought for drinking, cooking, and washing.

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Sites in the Arad Region:

Dead Sea

After a long day’s hike to the lowest point on Earth, float calmly on the salty surface of the Dead Sea.

Masada

In a mountaintop stronghold between the desert hills and the Dead Sea, walk among ruins filled with the history of kings, warriors, and monks.

Mt. Sodom

Visit this amazing geological phenomenon for the chance to witness a mountain that actually grows taller over time.

Tel Arad

To walkers without a background in archeology, the fortress on the hill may appear as another site with walls and stones strewn around. But Tel Arad is a site of mystery and drama in the development of monotheism.

Mt. Zin

The view of this impressive table-topped mountain and its surrounding foothills is worth a brief jaunt away from the path.

Zohar Fortress

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Enjoy the view down to the Dead Sea from these strategically positioned fortresses built high above an ancient river bed.