Nabataeans

Nabataeans in Wikipedia

The Nabateans (Arabic: الأنباط‎ / ALA-LC: Al-Anbāṭ; Hebrew: נְבָיוֹת | Nevayōt, also נַבָּטִים | Nabatim) were an ancient Semitic people of southern Jordan, Canaan and the northern part of Arabia, whose oasis settlements in the time of Josephus (AD 37 – c. 100), gave the name of Nabatene to the borderland between Syria and Arabia, from the Euphrates to the Red Sea. Their loosely-controlled trading network, which centered on strings of oases that they controlled, where agriculture was intensively practiced in limited areas, and on the routes that linked them, had no securely defined boundaries in the surrounding desert. Trajan conquered the Nabatean kingdom, annexing it to the Roman Empire, where their individual culture, easily identified by their characteristic finely-potted painted ceramics, became dispersed in the general Greco-Roman culture and was eventually lost. Culture -- Many examples of graffiti and inscriptions - largely of names and greetings - document the area of Nabatean culture, which extended as far north as the north end of the Dead Sea, and testify to widespread literacy; but no Nabatean literature has survived, nor was any noted in antiquity,[1] and the temples bear no inscriptions. Onomastic analysis has suggested [2] that the Nabatean culture may have embraced multiple ethnicities. Classical references to the Nabateans begin with Diodorus Siculus; they suggest that the Nabateans' trade routes and the origins of their goods were regarded as trade secrets, and disguised in tales that should have strained outsiders' credulity. Diodorus Siculus (book ii) described them as a strong tribe of some 10,000 warriors, pre-eminent among the nomads of Arabia, eschewing agriculture, fixed houses, and the use of wine, but adding to pastoral pursuits a profitable trade with the seaports in frankincense and myrrh and spices from Arabia Felix (today's Yemen), as well as a trade with Egypt in bitumen from the Dead Sea. Their arid country was their best safeguard, for the bottle-shaped cisterns for rain- water which they excavated in the rocky or clay-rich soil were carefully concealed from invaders.[3] The extent of Nabatean trade resulted in cross-cultural influences that reached as far as the Red Sea coast of southern Arabia. The gods worshipped at Petra were headed by Dushara and al-Uzza. Origins -- The brief Babylonian captivity of the Hebrews that began in 586 BC opened a minor power vacuum in Judah (prior to the Israelites' return under the Persian King, Cyrus), and as Edomites moved into open Judaean grazing lands, Nabatean inscriptions began to be left in Edomite territory. The first definite appearance was in 312 BC, when they were attacked at Petra without success by Antigonus I's officer Athenaeus as part of the Third War of the Diadochi; at that time Hieronymus of Cardia, a Seleucid officer, mentioned the Nabateans in a battle report. About 50 BC, the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus cited Hieronymus in his report,[clarification needed] and added the following: "Just as the Seleucids had tried to subdue them, so the Romans made several attempts to get their hands on that lucrative trade."[citation needed] Petra or Sela was the ancient capital of Edom; the Nabateans must have occupied the old Edomite country, and succeeded to its commerce, after the Edomites took advantage of the Babylonian captivity to press forward into southern Judaea. This migration, the date of which cannot be determined, also made them masters of the shores of the Gulf of Aqaba and the important harbor of Elath. Here, according to Agatharchides, they were for a time very troublesome, as wreckers and pirates, to the reopened commerce between Egypt and the East, until they were chastised by the Ptolemaic rulers of Alexandria.[citation needed] The Nabateans had already some tincture of foreign culture when they first appear in history. That culture was naturally 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. They occupied Hauran, and in about 85 BC their king Aretas III became lord of Damascus and Coele-Syria. Nabateans became the Arabic name for Aramaeans, whether in Syria or Iraq, a fact which has been incorrectly held to prove that the Nabateans were originally Aramaean immigrants from Babylonia. Proper names on their inscriptions suggest that they were true Arabs who had come under Aramaic influence. Starcky identifies the Nabatu of southern Arabia (Pre-Khalan migration) as their ancestors. However different groups amongst the Nabateans wrote their names in slightly different ways, consequently archeologists are reluctant to say that they were all the same tribe, or that any one group is the original Nabateans[4]...

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