Known in the Bible as the “Salt Sea” or the “Sea of the Arabah,” this inland body of water is appropriately named because its high mineral content allows nothing to live in its waters. Map.
Other post-biblical names for the Dead Sea include the “Sea of Sodom,” the “Sea of Lot,” the “Sea of Asphalt” and the “Stinking Sea.” In the Crusader period, it was sometimes called the “Devil’s Sea.”
All of these names reflect something of the nature of this lake. The Dead Sea is located in the Syro-African Rift, a 4000-mile fault line in the earth’s crust. The lowest point of dry land on earth is the shoreline of the Dead Sea at 1300 feet below sea level. That the lake is at the lowest point means that water does not drain from this lake.
Daily 7 million tons of water evaporate but the minerals remain, causing the salt content to increase. Figures for the Dead Sea’s salinity today range from 26-35%. Nearly ten times as salty as the world’s oceans and twice as saline as the Great Salt Lake in Utah, the Dead Sea is rich with minerals.
The Dead Sea Works company on the southwest side of the lake employs 1600 people around the clock to harvest the valuable minerals from the water. Potash is the most valuable of those extracted today and is used in the manufacture of fertilizer. The best article on the minerals in the Dead Sea is in the Encyclopedia Britannica.
The unique concentration of the Dead Sea waters has long been known to have medicinal value. Aristotle, Queen of Sheba, King Solomon and Cleopatra were all familiar with this and modern doctors as well often prescribe patients with skin ailments to soak in the waters of the Dead Sea. Because of the dropping level of the Dead Sea, the southern end is no longer under water, except for that which is channeled by aqueducts for the purpose of extracting minerals.