Flaming Torch

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 Flaming Torch

 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.

Large Cistern 

 Round Cistern
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.

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.

Sliding on Sand Left: We stop for a while to water the camels, and some of us try sliding down the sand dunes!

Cistern

Above: This ancient Nabataean water cistern is till working, and still has water in it!

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