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The Nabataean city of Hawara (modern Humeima) is an important historical site, as it is a city that was founded by the Nabataeans, and survived only into the Byzantine era. During the Muslim conquests, the Abbasid family maintained a large house and a mosque here, and from this site they launched their takeover of the Muslim Empire. The Muslim section of the city was on the south side, and probably much of the city was in ruins during their time, due to several devastating earthquakes. (19 May 363; 9 July 551) The city was established at the trade route cross-roads where the Incense Route joined the King’s Highway (Aila - Petra section). Below: Hawara from a distance looks like a pile of rocks along the desert track.

Up close the rocks appear as piles of tumbled down buildings. Recent excavations have uncovered a Roman fort, baths, houses, churches, water cisterns and many more buildings.

The city of Humeima was founded by the Nabataean king, Aretas. According to legend, … “Aretas set out to investigate the oracle, which was ‘to seek a place auara - that is ‘white’ in Arabic, or Syrian. When Aretas had arrived and was keeping watch there appeared to him an apparition, a man clothed in white riding a white camel, and when the apparition disappeared there appeared spontaneously a craggy hill firmly rooted in the earth. There he founded a town.” John Oleson, ‘Humeima Hydraulic Survey, 1989’ Echos du Monde Classique,/Classical Vies, 34, n,s, 9, 19900, 145-163. Dr. John Oleson is responsible for all excavations at the Humeima site.

Because the city had no nearby water source, water was brought to the city in a covered aqueduct from two natural springs 27 kilometers to the north. The picture above shows where one of the water sources was located. The water was transported to huge water cisterns under the city. Below: An exposed underground cistern. Many other cisterns lie buried under the city.

One of the aqueduct stones, now abandoned.

One of the aqueduct stones, now abandoned.

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