Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Soreq cave near Beit Shemesh, Israel

An Unexpected Surprise near Beit Shemesh by Marina Shemesh

I have been living for more than ten years in Israel and thought that I know this little country pretty much inside out. A recent trip to the southern part of the country showed me however that there are quite a few places still left to explore. I shall write about my experiences in the south in some coming blog posts but today I want to tell you about a place I never knew even existed - the Soreq stalactite cave just outside Beit Shemesh in the Judean hills.

Stalactites and Stalagmites in the Soreq cave 

The Stalactite cave of Beit Shemesh
The sealed cave was found in 1968 when quarry workers dynamited a mountain. They discovered some pretty amazing stalactites and stalagmites and called in the nature people. After a few years (more like 10 years) of figuring out what to do, the cave was finally opened to the public.

The Soreq cave is a bit on  the small side if you compare it to other similar caves in the world. It is however quite special in its own way because it contains 1. an amazingly large variety of stalactites and stalagmites and 2. they are REALLY old.

These two are known as "Unrequited Love" because they have stopped growing and  will never meet.  In the background you can see stalactites that are called spaghetti stalactites because they are hollow inside.
Some of the older stalactites and stalagmites in the Soreq cave.

Apparently quite a bunch of geologists managed to publish not too few scientific papers about the various rock formations found in the cave. Sounds a bit familiar doesn't it? A small place, with lots of things going on and many people writing/talking about it. Doesn't this description also fits the country, Israel itself? :)

I kind of like the metaphor - in Israel, even the caves provide writing material!

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