Today was another day of touristing! We were lucky enough to have a tour guide take us on a quick trip around the city to explain the history of the area and how it relates to the three religions of Islam, Christianity and Judasim. We began our tour heading up the Mount of Olives, pausing to see the Garden where Jesus was arrested. Once we hit the top, we were struck by this awesome view!
|Mount of Olives View!|
From the photo you can see the Dome of the Rock (check near my head!) which is believed to be the site where Mohammad ascended to heaven and Abraham almost sacrificed Isaac. This is just one example of a particuarly site that is extremely important to all three religions. It is amazing how these conflicting points of view can live in relative peace.
After admiring the view we braved the trip back down and left Jerusalem, heading into the desert towards the fortess of Masada. This fortress was built near the Dead Sea, up on the cliffs in the middle of the desert, by King Herod. The only ways into the fortress are either via the cable car, or up the extremely steep snaking path up the cliff-face. I am grateful for the technology because the heat was extreme. The view was completely worth it though. The photo looks blurry but it is mostly dust haze. In the distance on the right you can see the lowest point on land, the Dead Sea.
|View from Masada - DUST!|
We explored this fortress, seeing ruins of old buildings, frescos and even one of King Herod's palaces complete with his own personal bath house! The engineering of this place was incredible, the way that channels were dug in the cliff face to capture what little rain there was, guiding it into large cisterns that had been hand carved with chisels into the cliff. It was unbelievable!
|The team in King Herod's Palace|
|Masada's Synagogue - the black line is the level at which the walls |
|A floor mosaic in the church used by the Christian monks|
The saddest story of Masada is its most famous. In the late 1st Century A.D the Jews rebelled against the Romans. In a country wide civil war, many Jewish people died. Their final stand was in the fort of Masada. Outnumbered more than 10 to 1, the Jews fought bravely, but had the fortress breached after only a few months after the Romans built a huge ramp to reach the gates. The night their gates had been breached, the Jews made the decision to commit suicide rather than be captured and by doing so, take away the Roman victory.
After finishing our tour of the fortress, we enjoyed a quick shop and some lunch before travelling to a private beach at the Dead Sea. The thought of swimming was very appealing, as the temperature was starting to push 40 degrees. Deciding to jump head-first into the experience, we all painted ourselves with the black mud (which does wonders for your skin!) before walking into the water. Amusing ourselves with ridiculous poses whilst floating merrily. My camera was not waterproof so I don't have any photos at the moment, but once I get them I'll post some up.
Back at the hotel it was time to meet and greet our fellow delegates. There are over 200 students from places such as Israel, China, Japan, Myammar, New Zealand, Georgia, India, Thailand and Korea. Everyone is so fanatsic and we had great fun “speed dating” - a game where we have only two minutes to get to know each other before changing partners. It was extremely fun to meet so many people and I look forward to spending this week with them.
Tomorrow the lectures begin. Our first lecture is called “Science, Technology and Sustainable Development of Human Society” presented by Professor Yuan T. Lee, a Nobel Prize Laureate in Chemistry. Second up is Robert J. Aumann, winner of a Nobel Prize in Maths presenting “War and Peace.” Finally, Aaron Ceichanover, Chemistry Nobel Lauretae, will be lecturing on “The Personalised Medicine Revolution: Are we going to Cure all Diseases and at What Price?”
I will be tweeting about these lectures as they run. If you have a question you want to be asked after the lecture, feel free to either comment here or tweet at me (@elyse_h) and I will do my best to have them answered.