Low-Lying, Salt-Heavy Wonder of the World

By Devra Ferst

Published July 15, 2009, issue of July 24, 2009.

In the fifth-century BCE, scholars Herodotus and Callimachus created a list of the Seven Wonders of the World. Since then, lists of the seven wonders of the medieval, industrial and even underwater world have popped up, luring tourists around the globe.

Hoping to draw attention to the natural world, the New7Wonders Foundation, based in Zurich, is sponsoring the New7Wonders of Nature competition. “If we want to save anything, we first need to truly appreciate it,” the foundation states on its Web site.

Among those tapped for appreciation of beauty, historical legacy and ecological significance is the Dead Sea.

The sea, along with the Great Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon, made the Top 77 list, which the foundation announced in early July. By July 21, the nominees will be narrowed to 28 finalists by a panel of experts. The final seven wonders of the natural world will be decided by an online popular vote on the foundation’s Web site, www.new7wonders.com, and the results will be announced in 2011.

The Dead Sea submission was initially sponsored by a group of West Bank settlers but was signed off on by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Jordanian government, both of which share the sea and now form the Official Supporting Committee for the nomination.

Of the original seven wonders, only the Great Pyramid of Giza remains, while the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia and others have long since been destroyed. Hopefully, with eco-attention and preservation efforts, the Dead Sea, which receded 82 feet in the 20th century, will have better luck.

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