Avdat in Roman and Byzantine Times
Avdat is located on a mountain ridge in the center of the Negev highlands. In the middle of the 3rd century it was resettled and became an important Roman military outspost, with a residential quarter on the spur southeast of the acropolis. In the sixth century, under Byzantine rule, Avdat had an estimated population of 3,000. New agricultural crops were grown in the valleys around the city and a number of wine presses, which have been excavated, indicate intensive vine cultivation. A citadel and a monastery with two churches were built on the acropolis. The city was destroyed, probably by earthquake, and abandoned in the 7th century.
The Northern Church, in basilical style, was reached through an atrium with a cistern and had a single apse. Behind it, to the west, was a baptismal font in cruciform shape and a smaller font for baptizing infants.
The more important Southern Church had three apses on the eastern side. In the floor are reliquaries for the remains of local saints. In the floor of the prayer hall of the church are the tombs of clerical dignitaries with inscriptions on stone slabs covering the tombs, dating from 542 to 618. One of the inscriptions gives the name of the church, The Martyrion of St. Theodorus, also known from other inscriptions, who served as abbot of the monastery of Avdat and was buried in this church.
The excavations at Kurnub were conducted by A. Negev of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the National Parks Authority; the excavations at Shivta date from the 1930s . Cleaning and restoration was done on behalf of the National Parks Authority under A. Aviyonah; the excavations at Avdat were conducted by A. Negev on behalf of the National Parks Authority and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
[ARCHEOLOGICAL SITES] [Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs]