web analytics
July 29, 2014 / 2 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
Sections
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Home » Sections » Travel »

Machtesh Ramon


Photos by Ramonah Traub

Photos by Ramonah Traub

Machtesh Ramon is considered by some to be the most exquisite site on the planet. Located south of Beersheba in the Central Negev, not only is Machtesh Ramon the most spectacular geological sight in Eretz Yisrael, it contains within it some unique geological formations that are not found anywhere else on earth. A machtesh (erosion cirques or box canyon) is a geological window, giving us a look into the Earth’s crust. Unique to the Negev and Sinai deserts, only 7 machteshim have been identified, Machtesh Ramon, Machtesh HaGadol, Machtesh HaKatan and two even smaller ones on Har Harif in the Negev; there are also two in the Sinai.

The term machtesh is a geological term borrowed from the word machtesha “mortar” (as in mortar and pestle). Both the Machtesh Katan (Small) and the Machtesh Gadol (Large) look like mortar bowls in which grains are pounded with a pestle. This “look” holds true for both the Small and the Big Machteshim, but not for Machtesh Ramon which is stretched out and narrows at one end – resembling the shape of an elongated heart.

These enormous, craterlike machteshim are neither meteorite craters nor volcanic calderas, although they are frequently described as craters. Machtesh Ramon is an erosion landform, actually a valley surrounded by steep walls and drained by a single wadi (riverbed). The name Ramon is probably from the Arabic “Ruman” meaning “Romans,” and probably linked to a trail that the Romans built here.

Machtesh Ramon has pretty impressive measurements, making it the largest machtesh in Eretz Yisrael. This makes it the largest on earth as no other part of the globe has this phenomenon. The crater is 45km long, 2-10 km wide (28 miles long and five miles wide) and 500 m deep. Its deepest point is Ein Saharonim (Saharonim Spring) – which also contains the Machtesh Ramon’s only natural water source and sustains much of the wildlife in the machtesh including ibex and onagers.

The onager, or wild ass (the biblical pereh), was an animal that had disappeared from Israel. In 1983, two herds of onagers were successfully re-introduced at two locations: Machtesh Ramon and at another site in the Arava Desert. They are the smallest of wild horses and cannot be domesticated. In Roman times, the meat of an onager was considered a delicacy. Some other animals in the vicinity are leopard, striped hyena, sand fox, Dorcas gazelle and the fat desert rat. A variety of plants grow in the Ramon area, including Atlantic pistachio trees, buckthorn, globe daisy, tulips and other bushes and shrubs.

Machtesh Ramon contains many types of rocks including clay hills – known for their fantastic red and yellow colors – as well as forms and diverse colorful sandstone.

At the borders of the crater impressive mountains rise. Har Ramon (Mt. Ramon), at the southwest corner of the machtesh, is one of the highest peaks in the Negev (3,400 feet – 1,037 m.), Har Ardon (Mt. Ardon) at the north-eastern end, and two table-like mountains – Har Marpek (Mt. Marpek – “Elbow”) and Har Katum (Mt. Katum – “Chopped”) are along the southern wall. Giv’at Ga’ash, a black hill in the north of the machtesh was once an active volcano.

Shen Ramon (Ramon’s Tooth) is made of molten rock which hardened while underground. This black sharp-edged rock later rose up through cracks in the Earth’s surface, and today stands in striking contrast to the nearby creamy colored southern wall of the crater. In the centre of the machtesh is Ha-Minsara (The Carpentry Shop), a low hill made up of black prismatic rocks. It is the only place in the world where prisms made of heated sand turned into liquid – and then when cooled naturally formed rectangular and hexagonal prisms that look like woodchips left behind by an indifferent carpenter. Also, vertical dikes of magnum that squeezed upward through fissures can be seen at various spots through the machtesh.

The ruins of a large prehistoric stone structure known as Khan Saharonim are found in the Machtesh. It lies along the ancient Incense Route, a trade route used by the Nabateans, and is the remains of a caravanserai, a roadside inn where the travelers would rest and recover from the day’s arduous journey. Dozens would gather and camp together and regroup before moving forward in an effort to protect themselves from bandits hiding out in the desert. These ruins acted as a way station for the traders and their animals (khan is the Arabic word for a caravansary) as they proceeded further westwards to the Mediterranean seaport city of Gaza. Not far away to the north are the ruins of the ancient Nabatean city of Avdat.

About the Author: Originally from south Africa, Vardah has been living in Eretz Yisrael since 1974 and the more she learns about our glorious Holy Land the more she gets to love this prime property that Hashem has given to the Jewish People. She is studying to be a tour guide and hopes with the help of Hashem, through this column to give readers a small taste of the land.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Machtesh Ramon”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
rocket in a field near Kibbutz Mefalsim
Heaven on Earth (With Rockets)
Latest Sections Stories
Teens-Twenties-logo

What Hashem desires most is that we learn to connect with each other as children in the same family.

Jerusalem to Jericho Road: photograph by Chanan Getraide
“Chanan Getraide Photographs”: 2004 exhibition at Hebrew Union College Museum

“We are living in a Golden Age of Jewish Art, but don’t know it.”

Respler-072514

The real solution to bullying is to empower the bullied child.

Time outs increases compliance and positive behavior far more than other forms of discipline

Interestingly, sometimes people who have a very high self-awareness may experience intense reactions to circumstances that others might respond to more mildly.

“You Touro graduates are automatically soldiers in [Israel’s] struggle, and we count on you,” Rothstein told the graduates.

The lemonana was something else. Never had we seen a green drink look so enticing.

On his marriage, he wrote: “This is what I believe: something of the core, of the essence of this meaningful and life-affirming Judaism will not be absent from our home” (1882).

With the recent kidnapping by the Hamas and the barbaric murder of three children – Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Frankel, we believe that the best answer to honor the memory of those murdered is to continue building those very communities – large and small – that our enemies are trying to destroy.

Written entirely through Frayda’s eyes, the reader is drawn by her unassuming personality.

Adopting an ancient exegetical approach that is based on midrashic readings of the text, thematic connections that span between various books of the Bible are revealed.

While Lipman comes from an ultra-Orthodox background and is an Orthodox rabbi, he offers a breath of fresh air when he suggests that “polarization caused by extremism and isolationism in the religious community may be the greatest internal threat to the future of the Jewish people”

More Articles from Vardah Littmann
Littman-112213-Flowers

Only half an hour’s drive from Jerusalem, the majestically beautiful Einot Tzukim Nature Reserve is a lush, green oasis surrounded by miles of flat arid, desert.

Littman-102513-Wall

The Kotel Hakatan is the “little sister” of the well-known Western Wall, and is reminiscent of the photos and drawings of the way the Kotel looked before 1948. It is located 200 yards further north of the Kotel, and is on the same level as Har HaBayit (the Temple Mount). Since its plaza is much narrower, and the majority of the wall is underground (thereby concealing much of its height), the Small Wall is less impressive than the Western Wall.

When we come to the Kotel we may be so engrossed in our tefillos that we don’t notice the numerous birds flying close by and the plants growing out of her stones. But the Kotel—spiritual home to millions — is built of stones that serve as the physical home for various animals and plants.

Although there are more direct and faster routes to Beer Sheva and Eilat and all the sites and towns in-between, the Basor River is one of the beauties of the Negev that defiantly justifies a diversion.

Speechless wonder is the reaction to the beautiful vision seen though the Arch of the Keshet Cave at the Adamit Park in the Galilee. One of the most amazing natural wonders in Eretz Yisrael, the Me’arat Hakeshet — also known as the Rainbow Cave or Arch Cave — can be found up against the Israel-Lebanon border just a few kilometers from Rosh Hanikra and the sparkling blue Mediterranean Sea. It is situated amid the wild scenery on the cliffs of Nachal Betzet and Nachal Namer, on the Adamit Ridge.

About four years ago a group of orthodox senior citizens from Bnei Brak arrived to tour the Ayalon Institute. One woman seemed to be exceptionally moved and cried a lot. Nearly two week later, she sent a letter to the Institute explaining why. She wrote that she was a Holocaust survivor and between 1943 and 1945 she had been a forced laborer making bullets to help the Nazi cause – bullets that were used many times against Jews. After the war, she had concentrated on raising a frum generation, suppressing all the terror of those horrendous years in order to do so.

We will start our tour at Agripas No. 12, exactly where the first round stone pot-plant of pansies stands, on the same side of Binyan Klal, but walking towards King George Street and opposite the traffic circle. Entering HaRav Chaim Elboher Alley, we find ourselves in Even Yisrael.

The crane is the king of the Hula Valley with welcoming squawks and shrieks of sheer delight from the thousands on the ground and the many hundreds in the skies above. They are surely calling out “Shalom aleichem, my friends, alechem shalom, so glad you arrived,” for it is known that cranes inform each other of favorable domiciles.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/travel/machtesh-ramon/2012/07/23/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: