The NABATAEANS, also NABATEANS (/ˌnæbəˈtiːənz/ ; Arabic :
الأنباط _al-ʾAnbāṭ_ , compare to
Ancient Greek :
Ναβαταίος, Latin : _Nabatæus_), were an
* 1 Origins * 2 Culture * 3 Religion * 4 Language * 5 Agriculture * 6 Nabataean Kingdom * 7 Roman period * 8 Archeological sites * 9 See also * 10 Notes * 11 References * 12 External links
The Nabataeans were one among several nomadic tribes that roamed the Arabian Desert , moving with their herds to wherever they could find pasture and water. These nomads became familiar with their area as seasons passed, and they struggled to survive during bad years when seasonal rainfall diminished. Although the Nabataeans were initially embedded in Aramaic culture, theories about them having Aramean roots are rejected by modern scholars. Instead; historical, religious and linguistic evidence confirm that they are a northern Arabian tribe .
The precise origin of this specific tribe of
Similarities between late
Nabataeans have been falsely associated with other groups of people.
A people called the "Nabaiti" which were defeated by the Assyrian king
Ashurbanipal and described to have lived "in a far off desert where
there are no wild animals and not even the birds build their nests",
were associated by some with the
Nabataeans due to the temptation to
link their similar names and images. One claim by Jane Taylor alleges
a misconception in their identification with the
Nebaioth of the
Hebrew Bible , the descendants of
Unlike the rest of the Arabian tribes, the
Nabataeans later emerged
as vital players in the region during their times of prosperity.
However, they later faded and were forgotten. The brief Babylonian
captivity of the Hebrews that began in 586 BCE opened a minor power
vacuum in Judah (prior to the Judaeans\' return under the Persian
Cyrus the Great
Nabataeans had already some tincture of foreign culture when they
first appear in history. That culture was
Aramaic ; they wrote a
letter to Antigonus in Syriac letters, and
Aramaic continued to be the
language of their coins and inscriptions when the tribe grew into a
kingdom, and profited by the decay of the Seleucids to extend its
borders northward over the more fertile country east of the Jordan
river . They occupied
Many examples of graffiti and inscriptions—largely of names and
greetings—document the area of Nabataean culture, which extended as
far north as the north end of the
Dead Sea , and testify to widespread
literacy; but except for a few letters no Nabataean literature has
survived, nor was any noted in antiquity, and the temples bear no
Main article: Nabataean religion
The extent of Nabataean trade resulted in cross-cultural influences that reached as far as the Red Sea coast of southern Arabia. The gods worshipped at Petra were notably Dushara and al-‘Uzzá . The Nabataeans used to represent their gods as featureless pillars or blocks. Their most common monuments to the gods, commonly known as "god blocks", involved cutting away the whole top of a hill or cliff face so as to leave only a block behind. However, the Nabataeans became so influenced by other cultures such as those of Greece and Rome that their gods eventually became anthropomorphic and were represented with human features.
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Main article: Nabataean Aramaic
The language of the Nabataean inscriptions, attested from the 2nd
century BCE, shows a local development of the
Aramaic language , which
had ceased to have super-regional importance after the collapse of the
Aramaic language was increasingly affected by the Arabic
Remains of a Nabataean cistern north of Makhtesh Ramon , southern Israel.
Although not as dry as at present, the area occupied by the Nabataeans was still a desert and required special techniques for agriculture. One was to contour an area of land into a shallow funnel and to plant a single fruit tree in the middle. Before the 'rainy season ', which could easily consist of only one or two rain events, the area around the tree was broken up. When the rain came, all the water that collected in the funnel would flow down toward the fruit tree and sink into the ground. The ground, which was largely loess , would seal up when it got wet and retain the water.
In the mid-1950s, a research team headed by
Michael Evenari set up a
research station near
Another study was conducted by Y. Kedar in 1957, which also focused on the mechanism of the agriculture systems, but he studied soil management, and claimed that the ancient agriculture systems were intended to increase the accumulation of loess in wadis and create an infrastructure for agricultural activity. This theory has also been explored by E. Mazor, of the Weizmann Institute of Science .
Petra was rapidly built in the 1st century BCE, and developed a population estimated at 20,000.
The Nabataeans were allies of the first Hasmoneans in their struggles against the Seleucid monarchs. They then became rivals of the Judaean dynasty, and a chief element in the disorders that invited Pompey 's intervention in Judea . Many Nabataeans were forcefully converted to Judaism by the Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus . It was this king who, after putting down a local rebellion, invaded and occupied the Nabataean towns of Moab and Gilead and imposed a tribute of an unknown amount. Obodas I knew that Alexander would attack, so was able to ambush Alexander's forces near Gaulane destroying the Judean army (90 BC).
The Roman military was not very successful in their campaigns against the Nabataeans. In 62 BCE, Marcus Aemilius Scaurus accepted a bribe of 300 talents to lift the siege of Petra, partly because of the difficult terrain and the fact that he had run out of supplies. Hyrcanus II , who was a friend of Aretas, was despatched by Scaurus to the King to buy peace. In so obtaining peace, King Aretas retained all his possessions, including Damascus, and became a Roman vassal.
In 32 BCE, during King
Malichus II 's reign,
Herod the Great started
a war against Nabataea, with the support of
After an earthquake in Judaea, the Nabateans rebelled and invaded
Israel, but Herod at once crossed the
An ally of the Roman Empire, the
Nabataean kingdom flourished
throughout the 1st century. Its power extended far into
The kingdom was a bulwark between Rome and the wild hordes of the desert except in the time of Trajan, who reduced Petra and converted the Nabataean client state into the Roman province of Arabia Petraea .
By the 3rd century, the
Nabataeans had stopped writing in
begun writing in Greek instead, and by the 5th century they had
converted to Christianity. The new
Petra and Little
Petra in Jordan
Bosra in Syria
* Mada\'in Saleh in northwest Saudi Arabia.
Shivta in the Negev Desert of Israel; disputed as a Nabataean
precursor to a
* Ancient Near East portal
* ^ _A_ _B_ "Nabataeans". _livius.org_. Retrieved August 31, 2015. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ _F_ _G_ _H_ Taylor, Jane (2001). _ Petra and the Lost Kingdom of the Nabataeans_. London, United Kingdom: I.B.Tauris . pp. centerfold, 14. The Nabataean Arabs, one of the most gifted peoples of the ancient world, are today known only for their hauntingly beautiful rock-carved capital — Petra. * ^ Maalouf, Tony (2003). _ Arabs in the Shadow of Israel: The Unfolding of God\'s Prophetic Plan for Ishmael\'s Line_. Kregel Academic. Retrieved 8 July 2016. * ^ The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library * ^ The carbonized Petra papyri , mostly economic documents in Greek, date to the 6th century: Glen L. Peterman, "Discovery of Papyri in Petra", _The Biblical Archaeologist_ 57 1 (March 1994), pp. 55–57 * ^ P. M. Bikai (1997) "The Petra Papyri", _Studies in the History and Archaeology of Jordan_ * ^ Marjo Lehtinen (December 2002) " Petra Papyri", _Near Eastern Archaeology_ Vol.65 No.4 pp. 277–278. * ^ Macdonald, M. C. A. (1999). "Personal names in the Nabataean realm: a review article" (PDF). _Journal of Semitic Studies_. XLIV (2): 251–289. doi :10.1093/jss/xliv.2.251 . Retrieved 7 February 2011. * ^ J. W. Eadie, J. P. Oleson (1986) "The Water-Supply Systems of Nabatean and Roman Ḥumayma", _Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research_ * ^ Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 2016, page 20 * ^ The last pagans of Iraq: Ibn Waḥshiyya and his Nabatean agriculture Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila (2006) ".. centred on the Nabatean corpus, consisting of the Nabatean Agriculture and some related texts, such as Kitab as-Sumum, Kitab Asrar al-falak and Shawq al-mustaham, all claiming to be translations made by Ibn Wahshiyya." * ^ "A City Carved in Stone". _Petra: Lost City of Stone_. Canadian Museum of Civilization. 7 April 2006. Retrieved 7 February 2011. * ^ Johnson, Paul (1987). _A History of the Jews_. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 978-0-297-79091-4 . * ^ Josephus, Flavius (1981). _The Jewish War_. 1:87. Trans. G. A. Williamson 1959. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-14-044420-9 . * ^ Josephus 1:61, p. 48. * ^ Josephus 1:363–377, pp. 75–77. * ^ Josephus 1:377–391, pp. 78–79. * ^ Rimon, Ofra. "The Nabateans in the Negev". Hecht Museum . Retrieved 7 February 2011. * ^ Nabataea: Medain Saleh
* Graf, David F. (1997). _Rome and the Arabian Frontier: From the Nabataeans to the Saracens_. Aldershot: Ashgate. ISBN 978-0-86078-658-0 . * Healey, John F., _The Religion of the Nabataeans: A Conspectus_ (Leiden, Brill, 2001) (Religions in the Graeco-Roman World, 136). * Krasnov, Boris R.; Mazor, Emanuel (2001). _The Makhteshim Country: A Laboratory of Nature: Geological and Ecological Studies in the Desert Region of Israel_. Sofia: Pensoft. ISBN 978-954-642-135-7 . * "Nabat", _Encyclopedia of Islam_, Volume VII. * Negev, Avraham (1986). _Nabatean Archaeology Today_. Hagop Kevorkian Series on Near Eastern Art and Civilization. New York: New York University Press. ISBN 978-0-8147-5760-4 . * Schmid, Stephan G. (2001). "The Nabataeans: Travellers between Lifestyles". In MacDonald, Burton; Adams, Russell; Bienkowski, Piotr. _The Archaeology of Jordan_. Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press. pp. 367–426. ISBN 978-1-84127-136-1 .
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