The Trip Back
According to ancient historians, the Nabataeans brought
about 3000 tons of frankincense and myrrh harvest per year from
southern Arabia to Petra. If this frankincense was moved from
Leuke Kome port in one huge caravan, then this bulky material
would have had to have been loaded on more than 3000 camels.
If this is true, then the 3000 plus camels would have required
watering pools of 240,000 liters of water (3000 x 80 liters of
water per camel) at each stop. Since the caravans would have moved
during the summer months then the camels would have needed to
stop every day or second day. Some of these watering stations
can be found in the deserts of Saudi Arabia and the Hisma desert
in southern Jordan. The others are still lost in the desert, but
further exploration should soon reveal their locations, as well
as that of Leuke Kome. Below are pictures of two dry water cisterns.
In ancient times the Nabataeans made small channels along the
mountain sides to collect water and direct it to their underground
cistern. In the pictures below, the cisterns used to have arches
over them to cover them. This way bandits riding by would not
see them, and only the Nabataeans would know they were there.
Many years later,a great earthquake damaged many of the water
cisterns in the desert, and most of their roofs fell in.
There is some talk among the camel caravan drivers
about bandits. We keep to the open desert as much as possible.
Bandits don't travel here very often because there is such a lack
of water. But water doesn't worry us. We are Nabataeans. We have
a secret route through the desert complete with hidden water supplies.
- The cisterns above held thousands of liters of
water. The cistern on the left could hold over 300,000 liters,
enough for all of the camels needed to move the fankincense.
||Left: We stop for a while to water the camels,
and some of us try sliding down the sand dunes!
Above: This ancient Nabataean water cistern is till
working, and still has water in it!