Nabateans


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Known as the monastery or the treasury at Petra, ca. 5th century BCE. It is a facade which only goes back a short way inside and is completely devoid of decoration inside.

Who were the Nabateans? At its peak the Nabatean Empire stretched from Yemen to Damascus and Western Iraq to the Sinai desert though no one knows for sure.  They were a mysterious group of travelers and traders so it’s hard to know the true extent of their empire.  Even though it is known they were literate they left little written record of their lives.  We know them from the spectacular architecture, especially the magnificent site of Petra.

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Metal sculpture in the Negev simulating a caravan of Nabateans.
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Ein Avdat, on the top of a ridge was a caravan stopping off place between Petra and the Mediterranean, and ultimately on to Rome.
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Traveling through the desert (Negev in Hebrew), we came upon this sculpture that reminds me of the Moai ancestor figures of Easter Island. In the distance is a Bedouin village. The Bedouins were nomads like the Nabateans and some still are though most live in semi-permanent villages.
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The lines you see along the hillside are remnants of terraces built by the Nabateans for farming and there is some evidence they even had vineyards.
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This also gives you an idea of the terrain of the desert region of Israel.
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The visitor center for Mitzpe Ramon (the Ramon crater) which is not really a meteor initiated crater, rather the largest “machtesh” in the world. This is the visitor center for Israel’s largest national park.
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The “machtesh” is 40 kilometers long, 2-10 kilometers wide, and 500 meters deep. Hundreds of millions of years ago this area was covered with ocean which receded to leave only the Dead Sea. 5 million years ago rivers carved out the inside of the crater and it continued to deepen rapidly as the rock was much softer than surrounding areas.
Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon who was killed in the shuttle disaster in 2003. He took the name Ramon because of this landscape, as it reminded him of what it must look like on the moon.
The black cinder cone you see shows that there was also volcanic activity in this area.
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Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon who was killed in the shuttle disaster in 2003 took the name Ramon because of this landscape, as it reminded him of what it must look like on the moon.
Nubian Ibex are a very common sight, equivalent to deer in our part of the world.
Nubian Ibex are a very common sight, equivalent to deer in our part of the world.

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