The name given by the ancients to the great valley through which the Jordan flows below the Lake of Tiberias, and to its continuation quite across the whole length of the Dead Sea, and for some distance beyond.
It signifies a depressed tract of plain, usually between two mountains, and corresponds with the Ghôr
of the Arabian writers. (Edrisi par Jaubert,
pp. 337, 338; Abulf. Tab. Syr.
pp. 8, 9; Schulten's Index Vit. Salad, s. v. Algaurum.
) According to Eusebius its extreme limits are Mt. Libanus, and the Desert of Paran, in Arabia Petraea. Burkhardt (Trav.
p. 344) describes the course of the valley in the upper end, near Lake Tiberias, as running from N. by E. to S. by W., and as about two hours broad.
The plain through which the river flows is for the most part barren, without trees or verdure; the cliffs and slopes of the river-uplands present a wild and cheerless aspect. Opposite to Jericho its general course is the same, but the cleft which forms the valley widens, and the river flows through the broad plain which is called on the W. “the Plain of Jericho,” on the E. “the Plain of Moab.” Josephus speaks of the Jordan as flowing through a desert (B. J.
3.10.7, 4.8.2), and it preserves this character to the present day.
The low bed of the river, the absence of inundation and of tributary streams, have combined to produce this result.
The part of the valley which is S. of the Dead Sea has not yet been sufficiently explored.
The whole of the valley of the Jordan may be considered as one of those long fissures which occur frequently among limestone mountains, and has given to Palestine its remarkable configuration. And it has been inferred that the phenomenon is referable to volcanic action, of which the country around exhibits frequent traces. (Robinson, Palestine,
vol. ii. pp. 215, 258, 305; Von Raumer's Palestina,
p. 56; Reland, Palaest.
p. 364; Rosenmüiller, Bibl. Alt.
vol. ii. pt. 1. p. 146; Ritter, Erdkunde West Asien,
vol. xv. p. 481.)
In Syria. [COELE SYRIA.]
A town in Crete (Steph. B. sub voce
probably the same as the Episcopal See of Aulopotamos. (Cornelius, Creta Sacra,
vol. i. p. 233.)
According to Hoeck (Kreta,
vol. i. p. 431) it is represented by a place called Aulon,
S. of Retimo.