Peraea and the Dead Sea
22. The Salt Lake, or Lake of Asphalt, also called Dead Sea - (Dead Sea)
SALT SEA: One of the designations of the Dead Sea, due to its high content of salts (25 percent, the highest salinity in the world). This name occurs in Gen 14:3 (identified with the valley of Siddim); Num 34:3, 12; Deut 3:17; Josh 3:16; 12:3 (in this and the previous two passages, gloss to sea of the Arabah); Josh 15:2, 5; 18:19.
Michael C. Astour, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, ad v. "Salt Sea" (extract)
Michael Avi-Yonah (The Madaba Mosaic Map, Jerusalem 1954, 40-41)
Eusebius (On., 100, 4-5) refers to the Salt Sea, called Dead (Sea) or Asphaltitis (Sea of Pitch). The author of the text repeats the three apellations in a different order. He also replaces the 'sea' in the first two by 'lake' lime(i), an apellation derived from Josephus (Jewish War IV, 476) and Pliny (N.h. V,15 -Asfaltitis locus)[...]
Above the Dead Sea the mountains rise in three tiers. The artist drew a distinction between the lower slopes of the mountains of Moab which are represented as a desert (pinks and yellows) and the more fertile upper reaches, where greens predominate. This is yet another proof of his familiarity with the vicinity of Madaba. White patches indicate the plateaus between the mountain ridges. In the second plateau from below are shown two villages.
Leah Di Segni ("The Onomastikon of Eusebius and the Madaba Map", in The Madaba map Centenary, Jerusalem 1999, 118)
In other areas we can point out yet other divergences between entries in the map and Eusebius' text as to throw a shadow of doubt on the derivation of such entries from it. Sometimes the divergence is minimal, possibly only a question of a different textual tradition: for instance, the Dead Sea is called thalassa he haluke, he kaloumene nekra kai asfaltitis by Eusebius, while on the map it is styled Haluke he kai Asfaltitis limne, he kai Nekra thalassa the word limne, lacus, is preferred by Josephus and Plinius (See also the complete article)
José M. Blázquez ("The Presence of Nature in the Madaba Mosaic Map", in The Madaba Map Centenary, Jerusalem 1999, 250)
The depiction of a river or sea full of fish and boats, such as in the Madaba Map, was a favorite theme in Hellenistic and Roman mosaics, as for example the mosaic with nilotic scenery from Preneste, with all kinds of boats sailing on the river. The same theme appears in a mosaic in the House of the Donkey in Djemila, the ancient Cuicul (Fig. 3), with pictures of the Triumph of Venus, from the end of the fourth or the beginning of the fifth century.5 A nilotic mosaic has been found in Hispania, in the Vega Baja, Toledo, dating from the end of the third or the beginning of the fourth century. It is of Alexandrian origin and represents a harbor with its buildings, all kinds of boats and a fisherman on board. (See also the complete article)
For more sources and bibliography see:
F.-M. Abel, Géographie de la Palestine.I (Paris 1933), s.v. "Mer Morte", 181.
Map Section 3 Place Sources