Documentary Film based on Gibson's book: Qur'anic Geography
 

 

The Sacred City from Glasshouse Media on Vimeo.

NABATAEANS IN THE NEGEV

 The Bedouin tribes in the Negev and the Sinai all trace their origins back to the Arabian Peninsula, somewhere between the 14th and 17th centuries. According to Bedouin traditions and historical evidence, these tribal ancestors came to the Negev for three main reasons. Some, such as the Masa'id, Suwarka, Tyaha and Ugbi, came in search of better pasturelands. Others such as the Tarabin, Muwaytat and Ahaywat came in search of economic gain, conveying and protecting Mecca-bound Muslims pilgrims between the Suez and Aqaba. Many, such as the Ayada, Dhullam and Muzayna tribes came fleeing from blood-revenge, often as a small clan, or even as individuals. Most of these tribes have a history in the Arabian Peninsula that goes back more than 1500 years. Why do I mention this? Because this ancient pattern of tribes moving from Arabia into the Negev can be traced even farther back, to the Nabataean people.

For many years, previous to 200 BC, the Nabataeans had slowly emigrated from their homeland in Arabia into the Negev. While they did not abandon their Arabian roots, they slowly expanded into the Sinai and Negev Peninsula. It is interesting to note, that after 106 AD, Nabataean influence in the Sinai and Negev began to wane, and other tribes slowly gained predominance. Eventually those tribes disappeared and the modern Bedouin tribes migrated in. However, today, many Bedouin tribes are moving out of the Sinai and Negev, and others, such as Egyptians and Israelis are the principle occupiers.

Why has there been a continual migration of groups through the Negev? In ancient times, the Deserts of Arabia grew slowly harsher and drier. As pasturelands disappeared through drought, the tribes of Arabia would move into Sinai and Negev, seeking better lands. They could not enter the farmlands of what is now southern Jordan, for the kingdom of Edom held a long grip on these fertile hills. They could not emigrate farther north than the Negev, because the Israelite nation firmly held the lush green hills of Judea. They could not immigrate into Egypt, for that land was held by the Egyptians of old.

On the other hand, the Sinai and Negev were considered desert and wilderness by the nations that surrounded them. They held little interest in what tribe currently held sway in that area, and thus, the Sinai and Negev were left to subjugation of the tribes of Arabia. There was, however, some concern about raiding. In order to combat the tribal menace from Arabia, the nations that bordered on the desert built walls and forts to protect themselves. The Egyptians built a wall on the border of Egypt and Sinai to protect their border. The Edomites built a wall along their eastern boarder, and eventually the Moabites incorporated walls into their line of fortifications that faced the desert. As far back as Gideon in the Old Testament, tribes came raiding from the desert. (Joshua ?:??)

And so it is that the Nabataeans like the Arabian tribes before and after them, began to slowly move out of the Arabian Desert and into the Sinai and Negev region. Diodorus tells us that as far back as 250 BC, Nabataean villages had sprung up along the shores of the Red Sea, and at important oasis in the desert. These small settlements would eventually grow to become important trade cities, located along the ancient trade routes that crisscrossed the wilderness. As the Nabataeans moved from being a nomadic people to being civilization builders, they applied their skills in water collection, so that they could provide their caravan stations with water. These water systems were expanded as the caravan stations grew in size, and eventually became small cities in their own right.

 Mampsis

 Nessana

  Ruheiba

 Avdat

 Elusa

 Gaza

 Shivta

Bibliography

Gibson, Dan, The Nabataeans, Builders of Petra, CanBooks, Saskatchewan, Canada 2002

Gibson, Dan, The Nabataean Collection, CanBooks, Saskatchewan, Canada, 2003

Glueck, Nelson, Rivers in the Desert, A history of the Negev, The Norton Library, W. W. Norton & Company Inc, New York, 1959, 1968

Levy, Udi, The Lost Civilization of Petra, Bath Press Color Books, Glasgow, 1999

Petra (A complete section in itself) Bostra
Nabataens in the Negev Wadi Rumm
Mampsis Aila
Mampsis Photos Humeima
Nessana Meda'in Saleh
Ruheiba Meda'in Saleh: Tombs: Exteriors and Interiors
Avdat Meda'in Saleh: Tomb Decorations, Falcons, Faces, etc
Elusa Meda'in Saleh: Niches, Altars and God Blocks
Gaza Ma'an
Shivta Leuce Come
The Wall Where was Leuce Come? by Bob Lebling
Negev Wall A Possible Solution for Leuce-Come By Dan Gibson
Sela South Forts
Archeological sites in Saudi Arabia More South Forts