Lying between the Judean Hills, one thousand meters above sea level, to the west and the southern end of the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea, four hundred meters below sea level, to the east, the Judean Desert is a barren wilderness rather than a desert of rolling sand dunes. Despite the difficult terrain archaeological remains show it was populated as early as the chalcolithic age. (3500 BCE)
Remote and inaccessible it served as a refuge for David from King Saul, for the Jewish soldiers of Bar Kochba from the Romans and a place of seclusion for Byzantine monks during the fifth and sixth centuries. Remains of the fortress/palaces built by King Herod at numerous strategic points throughout still stand in all their glory.
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