The Secret of Ein Gedi


In 1972, archaeologists uncovered a mysterious warning in the ancient city of Ein Gedi. Luke Haley and Katy Blake look at this ancient city, and the meaning of that warning.

Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Luke Haley.

Voice 2 

And I’m Katy Blake. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

The year is 1972. A group of archeologists work in the hot sun near Ein Gedi, Israel. They carefully dig through the dirt and sand. They are uncovering the remains of an ancient synagogue. For centuries, this Jewish place of worship lay under the desert. But on this day, archeologists find an important discovery. It is a mosaic. This special stone design is made of many small pieces. On the mosaic, there is writing. It is an ancient curse. It reads: “Warnings to those who...tell other people the secrets of Ein Gedi.”  The curse goes on to say that God will punish those who tell the secret!

Voice 2 

But what are the secrets of Ein Gedi? And why are these secrets so important? For decades, experts have asked these very questions. Today's Spotlight is on the ancient curse of Ein Gedi.

Voice 1 

Ein Gedi is an oasis near the Dead Sea in Israel. An oasis is a green and fertile place in a desert. Here, water rises out of the ground and trees provide shelter from the hot sun. For thousands of years, the oasis of Ein Gedi provided shelter for many communities. The people of Ein Gedi gained wealth by using the oasis’ resources. They sold fruit produced by the trees. They collected bitumen which floated on the surface of the Dead Sea. They used the bitumen to make building materials and medicine. The townspeople also used the local trees to make pleasant smelling liquid perfume. For these reasons, the people of Ein Gedi were able to earn great wealth.

Voice 2 

But the oasis was also open to attacks. Many times over thousands of years, raiders destroyed the village. Often, the village fell into ruin. But in the 3rd century, the town again began to grow. Builders built many new buildings, including a large synagogue.

Voice 1 

This synagogue was a holy place. It was also the centre of life in Ein Gedi. For hundreds of years, living there was good ... until the 6th century. At this time, there was a great fire. All the buildings of Ein Gedi were destroyed. Experts today still do not know exactly what happened. Was the fire an accident or did people attack and burn the city?

Voice 2 

What experts do know is that the ruins contained a mystery. It was the mystery of the Ein Gedi curse. Archaeologists found the warning on the synagogue floor. The writing warned that bad things would happen to anyone who shared the secret of Ein Gedi with those outside the community. But what secret was so important to the community?

Voice 1 

For years, experts tried to learn the secret. People had many ideas of what it might be. No one can be sure what the secret was. This is because the people of Ein Gedi died and took the secret with them into death.

Voice 2

Yet, recently, some experts think they may have found the answer. And part of this answer may be found in a famous love story - the story of Antony and Cleopatra.

Voice 1 

The story of Antony and Cleopatra is one of the most important love stories in history. It has been told many times, in many ways. The great English writer William Shakespeare wrote a play about Antony and Cleopatra. And a Hollywood film about them was one of the most famous and costly films of its time.

Voice 2

In ancient Rome, Mark Antony was a great general. He ruled over half the Roman Empire. Cleopatra ruled Egypt. They were two people with great power. And their love for each other changed the history of many nations. Their story is a big story. But within this story there are small details. And these details point us to the secret of Ein Gedi.

Voice 1 

Antony loved Cleopatra very much. So, he took lands from his friend, King Herod of Israel. He gave these lands to Cleopatra. This land included Ein Gedi. And Ein Gedi had something very important to Cleopatra. The oasis town had balsam trees. Balsam trees produce a liquid, like milk, when they are cut. And the people of Ein Gedi used this liquid to make perfume.

Voice 2 

Cleopatra loved perfume. Most people put perfume on their bodies - to make themselves smell better. But Cleopatra used perfume for much more. She would cover everything around her with perfume. When she arrived into a city by boat, the ports would be filled with the sweet smell of perfume. Imagine how much perfume covered her boat! And the best perfume came from her balsam trees in Ein Gedi.

Voice 1 

So today, experts believe the Ein Gedi secret may have been the secret for how to make their special perfume. Making perfume from the balsam tree was a difficult process. Perfume makers used particular recipes. They had to balance just the right amount of different ingredients, or resources. Perfume making was competitive industry. People loved particular kinds of perfume. And perfume makers made sure to keep their recipes secret. They did not want anyone else to make their special product. But could a secret recipe for perfume really be the secret of the Ein Gedi curse?

Voice 2 

It may seem like an unimportant secret. But making perfume was Ein Gedi’s main industry. Profits from making and selling perfume supported the community. If people shared the perfume recipe with people from outside the town, it would ruin their industry!

Voice 1 

Today, some experts are again trying to produce Ein Gedi’s ancient perfume recipe. Many people desire to make the perfume that Cleopatra once used. But no one is sure if the exact kind of balsam tree is still growing at Ein Gedi. Are the balsam trees today the same as those owned by Cleopatra -- or were they all destroyed by great fire? And can the people hoping to make the new perfume mix the ingredients in the same way as the people did in ancient Ein Gedi?

Voice 2 

One day someone may produce a beautiful perfume in Ein Gedi. But it may never smell like the ancient perfume. The people of Ein Gedi took the curse seriously. The secret recipe was lost when the old city was destroyed. What do you think? Would you want to smell Cleopatra’s perfume?

Voice 1 

The writer of this program was Alan Harris. The producer was Nick Mangeolles. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘The Secret of Ein Gedi’.

Voice 2 

You can also leave your comments on our website. Or you can email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also find us on Facebook - just search for spotlightradio. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye!

Question:

Do you know of any cities or places that hold an important secret?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
Dela
said on April 10, 2014

The perfumes production has the big importance, worth for cosmetical industry and therefore it is possibly using an original secret recipe for making a perfume may represent the secret of the Ein Gedi curse at the ancient times. However, Cleopatra’s right, amazing perfume will probably never be produced nowadays, unfortunately.
Thanks for excellent article!

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0
said on April 13, 2014

I like every spotlight programs so much. It’s make my English is improving day by day. Thank you, Thank Spotlight. Actually, Spotlight is so helpful for people in the World.

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jmaia
said on April 29, 2015

Spotlight is a great programe of broadcasting to improve english language , so thanks for all the equipe.
This article tell us that the secret is the soul of business, anyone must know how the Cleopatra perfume was made. I should like to smell it.

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Johanna Castillo
said on April 29, 2015

Cleopatra was a very intelligent and crafty woman, probably her perfume was the scent of the same gods, after all she was a goddess.

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Maria Alejandra García
said on October 28, 2016

I don’t know about any place or city that hold an important secret but I wish to know, and I wish to visit Ein Gedi; seems so mysterious. And I think that even the people could found the secret smell of the cleopatra’s perfume we are never be sure if it is the ecxactly recipe and if this is the secret of Ein Gedi. Thank you spotlight for all of this amazing stories and programs because I am practice and improving my English and at the same time y learn such an interesting things. And to the people that maybe read this, if I have grammar or redaction problems; I will be please if you correct me or give some advices. Good night.

Kaleb Kolaibi's avatar
Kaleb Kolaibi
said on October 30, 2016

I think that the whole land of Israel, from the sea to the river, which includes many of the secrets of interest and benefit the world. Especially in Jerusalem. The government of Israel must indictment exploration and research. The international community must support Israel.
God bless you

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on October 31, 2016

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight programme
Subject: answer to the questions above
Date: Monday 31, October 2016
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Katy Blake, Luke Haley, Nick Mangeolles, and Alan Harris:

At first, I want to thank you to bring us readers and learners of English more one great article, thanks!

Yes, I would want to smell the Cleopatra’s perfume and I would like to know the secret’s recipe to produce it here in Brazil.
No, I do not. I do not know of any cities or places that hold an important secret.
Finally, thank you again to bring us that mystery story about The secret of Ein Gedi. It is very interesting!

The best regards,
Severino Ramos
Brazil