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Nabataeans

OLogy Series
anthropology
card
222

Nabataeans

OLogy Series
anthropology

Two thousand years ago, the Nabataeans ruled over one of the most powerful civilizations of the ancient world. The Nabataeans were master engineers and architects. In their capital of Petra, they carved an oasis of grand monumental buildings, lush gardens, and elaborate water systems in the middle of the hot, rugged desert.

Traveling Traders Find a Home
Over time, the Nabataeans left their nomadic lifestyle and began to settle down. They had been successful nomads for centuries, migrating from place to place, herding camels, sheep, and goats. The early Nabataeans didn't believe in permanent buildings or in settling down in one location. But as trade grew in the region, they began to set up stops for caravans, charging for water, food, shelter, and safe passage. Some Nabataeans became traders, carrying goods across the desert. The city of Petra grew at a crossroads of two main trade routes. It served as a trade station, as a place to store goods, and as a retreat in hostile times of war.

The Nabataeans grew wealthy by controlling trade in the region. Which goods were NOT common items carried along these routes?

incense

spices

plastics

Are you right?

Correct!

Exotic goods like incense (from Arabia) and silk (from Asia) were heavily traded. Other exotic goods included textiles, spices, ivory and pearls. The Nabataeans also sold some of their own raw materials, such as salt and copper.

The Nabataeans used horses to carry loads across the desert.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

The Nabataeans were experts at desert survival. They relied on camels to help them carry heavy loads. Camels go for days without water, and eat rough desert plants.

The Nabataeans started to use Greek and Roman styles in their art and architecture only after they became part of the Roman empire.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

The Nabataeans knew of Greek and Roman culture through trade, long before they were under Roman control. In fact, coins of the Nabataean kingdom are modeled after Greek coins.

Capital: Petra
Early years: a nomadic tribe in the deserts of Arabia
Known for: creating a kingdom based on controlling important trade routes, and for their sophisticated water systems

Image credits: courtesy of Travis A. Markel.