Stories from Palestine

Avdat and the Nabateans

May 29, 2022 Kristel Season 5 Episode 20
Stories from Palestine
Avdat and the Nabateans
Show Notes

In the Naqab desert you can find the Nabatean desert cities that were established on the incense and spices route. This was a very important trade route that stretched over about 1800 kilometers from Yemen / Oman until the port in Gaza. The trade was mainly in frankincense and myrrh, but also pearls, gold and cotton were traded. As the camels needed to stop every 35 kilometers to rest and drink, there were about 65 stops on the whole incense route.

The Nabateans, a nomadic Bedouin group in the Arabian desert, was very familiar with the area and the places where to find water. They developed cisterns where they collected rainwater that they marked secretly so that only they could find them. This meant that all traders were depending on the Nabateans for water.

The Nabateans set up forts and protected resting places on the incense route that grew into cities. When the Romans took over control of the incense route and moved it to go through Egypt, the Nabateans developed desert agriculture and specialized in wine making.
They also converted largely to Christianity in the Byzantine time.

The excavated cities of Avdat, Mamshit, Shivta and Haluza are on the UNESCO world heritage list since 2005. They are National Parks that you can visit by paying an entrance fee.

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