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Callirhoe

Hot Springs

The hot springs at Callirhoe were famous in antiquity.  There are more than sixty springs in the area, of varying temperatures.  Water from the hottest spring is 143° F (62° C).  They were visited by Herod the Great at the end of his life, and Callirhoe is depicted on the Medeba map with three buildings, palm trees, and the caption “the hot springs of Callirhoe.”

Herod's Visit

Josephus writes, “Yet did [Herod] struggle with his numerous disorders, and still had a desire to live, and hoped for recovery, and considered of several methods of cure. Accordingly, he went over Jordan, and made use of those hot baths at Callirrhoe, which run into the lake Asphaltitis, but are themselves sweet enough to be drunk.” (War 1.33.5, trans. by Whiston)

Herodian Palace Remains

Archaeologists have uncovered several ancient villas, first built in the Early Roman (Herodian) period.  One large villa had two buildings with a central courtyard.  One of the buildings had a plastered pool which received water via a channel from a spring to the east.  The site was apparently destroyed in the Jewish Revolt in AD 70.

Harbor Excavations

The site was first identified as Callirhoe by Ulrich Seetzen in 1807.  Recent excavations have revealed remains of a harbor.  The harbor is evidence of ancient boat traffic on the Dead Sea.  It is likely that Herod the Great traveled here by boat at the end of his life.

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Related Websites

Hammamat Ma’in, Jordan (Sacred Destinations). A brief but helpful description of the site.

Getting Lost in the Thermal Pools and Waterfalls of Hammamat Ma’in, Jordan (LandLopers). This travel article is a nice little read.