|On the eastern shore of the Dead Sea, where the river Jordan comes to an end, and laying between two valleys (wadi), positively identified as the wadi Zerqa Ma'in and wadi Mujib-Arnon, one sees two spas: at Baaru (modern-day Hammamat Ma'in) depicted as being inside the mountain and the thermal baths of Kalliroe (today's Zara) pride of the Madaba region. Here, apart from the two little palm trees that indicate the oasis, there are also indicated three springs whose waters are gathered in basins. The water of the southernmost spring sprouts directly from the mountain before ending up in the sea like the other two. On his dead bed, King Herod came to the hot waters of Calliroe in search of relief from his pains.
The mosaicist depicted two sailing boats with two sailors each in the Dead Sea, reminding the viewer of the sea traffic which was the easiest form of connection between the opposite shores.
Salt, also Pitch Lake, also the Dead Sea, is what the mosaicist writes in the caption, quoting the Onomasticon of Eusebius who had in turn drawn upon the biblical text where the Dead Sea is also called the Sea of Marabah and Eastern Sea to distinguish it from the West Sea or Mediterranean.
In greco-roman times it was known as the Pitch Sea because of the bitumen that was extracted from it. During the same period it began being called Dead Sea because it lacked all form of life because of its highly concentrated salinity.
In the Bible it is the Salt Sea resulting from a divine curse against the cities of Sodom and Gomorra which cities rose in a "plain, irrigated everywhere like the garden of Yahweh or the land of Egypt, as far as Zoar" (Gen 13,10).
Zoar, where the just man Lot , Abraham's nephew lived, was the only city to survive the destruction. On the south eastern shore of the Dead Sea the mosaicist presents the oasis of Balak or Segor now Zoara (modern-day Ghor al-Safy). This city was an episcopal seat in the byzantine epoch.
A church situated on a mountain to the east of the city is identified as being the shrine of Saint Lot. This shrine has been recently brought to light by archaeologists on a steep precipitous crag.
The caption the desert ,written in the plural and placed to the south of the Dead Sea, introduces the arid valley of Arabah which continues up to the coast of the Red Sea. (Michele Piccirillo)