Just 10 km south of our campus lies a 2100 year old world heritage site known as Avdat. Currently, part of the 518-acre Avdat National Park, this ancient city was established by a mysterious nomadic tribe of Arab origin called Nabateans on a commanding hill 1860 feet (580 m) above mean sea level. The golden period of Nabateans were from 1st Cent BC to 1st Cent AD. The Nabateans are well known for building magnificent cities deep inside lonely desert- some of them are world famous. The rock-carved rose-red city of
Nabateans were enormously rich as they controlled the famous Incense Route of ancient world. The 2,400 kilometer Incense Route brought costly incense, perfumes and spices from the Far East (India and China) to Arabia (starting from Yemen and Oman); across Petra and the Negev Desert to Gaza Port and finally to the Mediterranean ports in Europe. The journey took about six months to transfer the products from India to Europe- a long trail passing through 65 camel stops. The Israeli section of the
Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (1st Cent AD) and Church theologian St: Jerome (4th Cent AD) claim Nabateans as descendants of Ishmael’s first-born son, Nebaioth (Genesis 25:13; I Chronicles -31). Indeed Bible mentions in Genesis 37:25 a caravan of Ishmaelites, “coming from Gilead with their camels bearing gum, balm and myrrh.” Interestingly, in Bible, Nebaioth is the brother of Mahalath, one of Esau's (Edom) wives (Genesis 28:8-9; 36:2-3). It could be pure coincidence that some of the important Nabatean cities were built on the land of Edom! The "rams of Nebaioth" (Isaiah 60:7) are the gifts which these wandering tribes of the desert would consecrate to God.
The first known Nabatean King Aretas I (168-140 BC) is mentioned in II Maccabees 5:8. The city of
Today, impressive findings from the site include: A Pottery Workshop from 1st Cent AD;
It is my second visit to Avdat , almost 18 months since I made my first trip. We spent around 4 hours in Avdat and the adjacent