), warm springs on the eastern side of the Jordan, and not far from the Dead Sea, to which Herod the Great resorted during his last illness, by the advice of his physicians.
The stream flows into the Dead Sea. (J. AJ 17.6.5
.) Pliny (5.16
) also describes it as “calidus fons medicae salubritatis.” (Reland, Palaest.
pp. 302, 303, 678, 679.)
The place was visited by Captains Irby and Mangles in 1818, and is thus described by those intelligent travellers: “Looking down into the valley of Callirrhoe, it presents some grand and romantic features.
The rocks vary between red, grey, and black, and have a bold and imposing appearance. Tile whole bottom is filled, and in a manner choked, with a crowded thicket of canes and aspens of different species, intermixed with the palm, which is also seen rising in tufts in the recesses of the mountain‘s side, and in every place whence the springs issue.
In one place a considerable stream of hot water is seen precipitating itself from a high and perpendicular shelf of rock, which is strongly tinted with the brilliant yellow of sulphur deposited upon it. On reaching the bottom, we found ourselves at what may be termed a hot river, so copious and rapid is it, and its heat so little abated; this continues as it passes downwards, by its receiving constant supplies of water of the same temperature.... We passed four abundant springs, all within the distance of half-a-mile, discharging themselves into the stream at right angles with its course. We judged the distance from the Dead Sea by the ravine to be about one hour and a half. Maclean says that there was a cognominal city at Callirrhoe; in which we think, from the very nature of the place, he must be wrong, since there is not space or footing for a town in the valley, so far as we saw it. That Herod must have had some lodging when he visited these springs, is true, and there are sufficient remains to prove that some sort of buildings have been erected.
The whole surface of the shelf, where the springs are, is strewed over with tiles and broken pottery; and, what is most surprising, within very few minutes, without any particular search, four ancient copper medals were found; all were too much defaced to be distinguishable, but they appeared to be Roman.” (Travels,
pp. 467--469.) Its course to the Dead Sea was explored in 1848 by the American expedition, and described by Lieut. Lynch. “The stream, 12 feet wide and 10 inches deep, rushes in a southerly direction, with great velocity into the sea. Temperature of the air 70°, of the sea 78°, of the stream 94°, one mile up the chasm 95°.
It was a little sulphureous to the taste.” It issues from a chasm 122 feet wide (the perpendicular sides of which vary from 80 to 150 feet in height), and runs through a small delta about 2 furlongs to the sea. (Lynch's Expedition,