Nabataean Sites

If you’re looking to explore Nabataean sites and want to find the best places to view the history of the Nabataean Kingdom then you can explore our interactive map above or navigate further by using the links below.

The Nabataean kingdom was forged around the city of Petra in what is today southern Jordan. Reaching its zenith in the first century BC, the Nabateans soon came into contact with the ever expanding power of Rome.

Over the next two hundred years the Nabateans were cajoled through a mixture of force and negotiation. This eventually led to client kingdom status and subsequently to the final annexation of the kingdom into the Roman Empire during the reign of the Roman Emperor Trajan.

There’s an initial selection of Nabataean sites listed below and you can discover some interesting places to see on your travels.

Once you’ve explored the list of Nabataean Kingdom sites and selected those you wish to visit you can use our itinerary planner to plan your trip and then print off a free guidebook. This indispensible guide will help you make the most of your time exploring Nabataean ruins .

Our database of historic places is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. Remember, if you know of other Nabataean Kingdom sites, remains or ruins, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by visiting our upload page.

Nabataean Kingdom: Site Index

Photo by 04deveni (cc)

Avdat

Avdat was an ancient Nabatean city along a prosperous trade route.

DID YOU KNOW?

Avdat or “Ovdat” is an archaeological site in Israel which houses the pretty remains of an ancient Nabatean city later inhabited by the Romans, the Byzantines and the Arabs. It initially formed part of the trading route known as the Incense Route which ran from the Mediterranean to south Arabia and which peaked from the 3rd to the 2nd centuries BC. The main commodities along this route were frankincense, myrrh and spices.

Avdat prospered under the Nabateans from 30 BC to 9 BC, during the reign of King Aretas IV, but needed to be rebuilt after it was destroyed by Arab tribes in the late first century BC. This was carried out under Nabatean King Rabbel. However, in 106 AD, during Rabbel’s reign, Avdat was captured by the Romans. In the seventh century it was taken by the Arabs.

In addition to well-preserved fortifications, the ruins at Avdat include a caravanserai, homes, a Roman military camp, fourth century churches, a street and a bathhouse. Many of the ruins are Roman, but the Nabatean influence can still be seen, including the ruin of a temple.

Today, Avdat is a UNESCO World Heritage site, as one of four Desert Cities of the Incense Route.

Photo by Ian W Scott (cc)

Mamshit

Mamshit in Israel is the site of one of four UNESCO listed Nabatean cities which prospered as part of the Incense trading route.

DID YOU KNOW?

Mamshit was an ancient Nabatean city which formed part of the Incense Road, a trading route of various spices in the Mediterranean and south Arabia.

In fact, it is one of four such cities in the Negev Desert in Israel which form the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Incense Route. It is arguably the best preserved out of the four.

Founded in approximately the first century BC, Mamshit was later occupied by the Romans, after which its prosperity began to decline. In addition to a caravanserai and several large homes, Mamshit’s remains include a bathhouse, a market and many intact frescoes and mosaics.

Photo by Historvius

Petra

The most famous of all Nabataean sites, Petra is a UNESCO-listed ancient Nabataean city which later formed part of the Roman Empire.

DID YOU KNOW?

Petra is an iconic ancient site in southern Jordan. A secret to all but the Bedouins until 1812, Petra’s incredible monuments are now considered to be one of the wonders of the world.

Petra was established by the once nomadic Kingdom of the Nabataeans. Carving a city out of the sandstone rocks and cliffs, the Nabataeans settled and made Petra into their capital. The Nabataeans chose this site carefully, selecting a place which was located along the paths of numerous strategic caravan trails.

It is unknown when Petra was first founded, but it was inhabited from prehistoric times and fully established by the fourth century BC, by which time it had achieved fame as an incredible feat of architecture. In 312 BC, Petra was attacked in by Antigonus I Monophthalmos, who had once been a general of Alexander the Great, although he failed to capture it.

Petra continued to thrive under the Nabataeans, growing into a centre of trade with around 300,000 citizens and becoming extremely prosperous. It managed to resist numerous invasions and conquests, including by the Hasmonean Jewish Commonwealth and by the Romans. However, in 106 AD, during the reign of the Roman emperor Trajan, Petra lost its independence as it was absorbed into the Roman Arabian territory.

Petra maintained its status as an important trading centre throughout its time under the Roman Empire. It was only as the empire fell and following a series of earthquakes that Petra declined, at one point being a Crusader stronghold, but eventually forgotten.

Today, visitors to Petra cannot help but be inspired by its incredible remains. Intricate temples and tombs emerge from rocks and cliffs together with later additions from the Roman era and even a Byzantine church resplendent with mosaics. Other Roman remains include the tomb of the Roman governor Sextius Florentinus, the remains of a Roman palace and the remains of the main colonnaded road.

However, it is Petra’s most impressive and well-preserved monument, The Treasury, which is the first site to greet most visitors. Comprised of an elaborate façade hewn into the rock, The Treasury is thought to date back to the first century BC although its actual purpose is unknown (it may have been a temple, perhaps a tomb).

If the façade of Petra’s Treasury looks familiar, this might be because of its prominent appearance in the film ’Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’. Sadly, the inside of this monument does not meet the expectations created by its exterior – it is in fact remarkably bare.

There are several other sites to see along the way including Petra’s theatre and an array of rock-carved tombs. Petra is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and is well served by the Jordanian tourist industry.