One of Jordan’s most exciting archeological discoveries of recent times is at Deir Ain Abata, the cave where Lot and his family sought refuge from the devastation of Sodom and Gomorrah. A pillar of salt near Deir Ain Abata is said to be Lot’s wife, after she turned to watch the destruction of Sodom.
A monastery built by early Christians in commemoration of Lot’s sanctuary was recently unearthed at the site. The monastery obviously welcomed pilgrims to the cave of Lot’s refuge, which can be visited as well. A host of Bronze Age, Nabatean, Byzantine and early Islamic artifacts have also been found at Deir Ain Abata. Not surprisingly, the Byzantine period saw the laying of elaborate mosaic floors, some of which can still be seen today.
It is likely that the monastery was abandoned during the eighth century CE, probably because seismic pressure forced the collapse of the basilica and other structures. The monastery and cave are situated precariously on the side of a slope, and at least a third of the monastery has tumbled down the hill.
Deir Ain Abata is situated about two kilometers north of the phosphate-mining town of Safi, on the hill overlooking the Dead Sea.