The Negev and the Nabateans in Roman Times

Byzantine Churches in the Negev. In the first century BCE, the Nabateans (nomadic traders from Northern Arabia) established a kingdom in todays Kingdom of Jordan with Petra as its capital. They accumulated great wealth from their trade in costly perfumes and spices from East Africa and Arabia, which they transported by camel caravans to the southern Mediterranean port of Gaza. To secure their trade routes, the Nabateans built way stations at the intersections of the main routes at Kurnub (Mampsis), Shivta and Avdat. In the inhospitable Negev desert, the Nabateans developed an agriculture based on terraces built into the hillsides and on a sophisticated system for collecting every drop of available water: to capture flood waters, they constructed dams in the valleys; to collect rain water, they cut cisterns into the rock. Their way stations grew into cities. The Nabatean kingdom was conquered by the Romans in the year 106 and annexed to the Roman Empire. [ARCHEOLOGICAL SITES] [Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs]