Tracing the ancient Arab World Nabatacan Civilisation
Touriosity Travelmag|September 2020
The Nabataeans were an ancient Arab tribe who inhabited northern Arabia and the southern Levant. During the fourth century BC the Nabataeans lived as nomads in tents, loathed wine and did not have any interest in agriculture, but by the second century, they developed into an organized society, a distinct civilisation and political entity. They settled mostly in the city of Raqmu, which is now known as Petra, and is a city in Jordan. From there they expanded their territory to the Horan and Levant and finally announced Bosra as their capital.

Petra, the pride of Jordan, is but a wonder that the entire human race boasts of. In 1985, Petra was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is now one of the new Seven Wonders of the world. The site is a perfect representative of the old world and has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Surrounded by mountains and gorges, it is a rock-cut and rock-curved site, the construction of which was never completed. It is a paradise for archaeologists. The Greco-Roman culture is influenced by the Nabataean culture. Hellenistic influences can also be seen in Nabataean art and architecture, especially those built and created during 150 BC.

The surviving testaments of this culture can be seen in many graffiti and inscriptions and a few surviving letters that extend as far as the north end of the Dead Sea. These prove that a large group of Nabataeans were literate, but apart from letters, no other evidence of literature has survived to this date.

The Nabataeans have been described in literature as a strong tribe of some 10,000 warriors, well-known among the nomads of Arabia, with fixed houses, pursuing an exceptionally skilled trade, facilitating commerce between China, India, the Far East, Egypt, Syria, Greece and Rome. They dealt in such goods as spices, incense, gold, animals, iron, copper, sugar, medicines, ivory, perfumes and fabrics, and many others. They were excellent traders. Petra was a caravan city situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea and was an important route in international trade. Trade in incense of Arabia, silk of China and spices of India took place through it.

Coming to religion, Dushara was the supreme deity of the Nabataean Arabs, and was the official god of the Nabataean Kingdom.

Dushara enjoyed special royal patronage. It is well evident in various inscriptions where Dushara is said to be ‘The god of our lord’. The Nabataeans inscribed in the Aramaic language, but they spoke Arabic.

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