This ancient caravan station evolved into a large desert city known as Obodat (after a Nabataean king). It was first founded as a road station in the 3rd century BC where two trade routes converged. (The Aila - Gaza and Sela Gaza routes) The city is situated on a ridge rising about 80 meters from the surrounding plain. The city has many ruins, an underground necropolis, and the remains of several churches. In the middle of the 3rd century it was resettled and became an important Roman military outspost, with a residential quarter on the spur southeast of the acropolis. In the sixth century, under Byzantine rule, Obodat had an estimated population of 3,000. New agricultural crops were grown in the valleys around the city and a number of wine presses, which have been excavated, indicate intensive vine cultivation. A citadel and a monastery with two churches were built on the acropolis. The Northern Church, had only a single apse, but it also had an adult baptismal font in cruciform shape and a smaller font for baptizing infants. The Southern Church had three apses. In the floor of the prayer hall of the church there are tombs of priests and others with inscriptions dating from 542 to 618. One of the inscriptions gives the name of the church: The Martyrion of St. Theodorus. From other inscriptions we know that Sr. Theodorus served as abbot of the monastery and was buried in the church. The city was destroyed, probably by earthquake, and abandoned in the 7th century.
This city was also home to the temple of Obadas, a diefied king of the Nabataeans. There is a visitor's center with a small museum and a video the gives a flavor of the life of the original inhabitants. Today this location is known as Avdat. More information can be found in the book The Nabataeans, Builders of Petra.