As storytellers and liars, the Nabataeans ranked among the greatest. Many of their stories were believed by outside civilizations, and even to this day many people believe that the city of Petra is hidden in the middle of a rock valley, and inaccessible except through a very narrow crack in the rock. Below are some of the Tall Tales that the Nabataeans told.
The Obtaining of Frankincense
Such, then, is the way in which the Arabians obtain their frankincense; their manner of collecting the cassia is the following: They cover all their body and their face with the hides of oxen and other skins, leaving only holes for the eyes, and thus protected go in search of the cassia, which grows in a lake of no great depth. All round the shores and in the lake itself there dwell a number of winged animals, much resembling bats, which screech horribly, and are very valiant. These creatures they must keep from their eyes all the while that they gather the cassia.
Still more wonderful is the mode in which they collect the cinnamon. Where the wood grows, and what country produces it, they cannot tell---only some, following probability, relate that it comes from the country in which Bacchus was brought up. Great birds, they say, bring the sticks which we Greeks, taking the word from the Phoenicians, call cinnamon, and carry them up into the air to make their nests. These are fastened with a sort of mud to a sheer face of rock, where no foot of man is able to climb.
So the Arabians, to get the cinnamon, use the following artifice. They cut all the oxen and asses and beasts of burthen that die in their land into large pieces, which they carry with them into those regions, and Place near the nests: then they withdraw to a distance, and the old birds, swooping down, seize the pieces of meat and fly with them up to their nests; which, not being able to support the weight, break off and fall to the ground. Hereupon the Arabians return and collect the cinnamon, which is afterwards carried from Arabia into other countries. Concerning the spices of Arabia let no more be said. The whole country is scented with them, and exhales an odor marvelously sweet.
Incest in South Arabia
The woman, however, passes the night with the eldest. Hence
the male children are all brothers. They have sexual intercourse
also with their mothers. Adultery is punished with death, but
an adulterer must belong to another family. A daughter of one
of the kings was of extraordinary beauty, and had fifteen brothers,
who were all in love with her, and were her unceasing and successive
visitors; she, being at last weary of their importunity, is said
to have employed the following device. She procured staves to
be made similar to those of her brothers; when one left the house
she placed before the door a staff similar to the first, and
a little time afterwards another, and so on in succession, but
making her calculation so that the person who intended to visit
her might not have one similar to that at her door. On an occasion
when the brothers were all of them together at the market-place,
one left it, and came to the door of the house seeing the staff
there, and conjecturing some one to be in his apartment, and
having left all the other brothers at the
|Who were the Nabataeans?||The Muslim Invasion|
|Arabia in Ancient History||The Crusades|
|Middle History||The Hagarites/Gerrhaeans|
|Late History||The Twelve Tribes of Ishmael|
|The Fall of Petra|
|Time Line||Nabataean Ecconomics|
|Ancient Maps of Arabia||Nabataean Tall Tales|
|Ancient Historians||The History of Concrete and the Nabataeans|
|Ancient Quotes about the Nabataeans||The Ptolomies of Egypt|
|The Camel and the Nabtaeans||The Arabian Horse and the Nabataeans|