The place Did the Nabataeans Come From?
The place Did the Nabataeans Come From?
What we do know is that the Nabataeans had been a civilization of tent-dwelling nomads who amassed nice wealth as retailers. The primary accounts of the Nabataeans present that they lived as merchants, porters, and nomads within the deserts of modern-day Jordan, Syria, and Saudi Arabia — and that they inhabited the area way back to the sixth to the 4th centuries B.C.
The Nabataean Kingdom
Later, the Romans annexed the Nabataean Kingdom in A.D. 106, and what remained of their historical past quickly disappeared into the sands of Arabian time.
The dearth of a transparent historic document makes it troublesome to talk of Nabataean origins with any quantity of certainty. Nonetheless, this doesn’t stop historians from sketching tough concepts of the place the Nabataeans might have come from.
The Metropolis of Petra
Reduce into sandstone and hidden deep inside a mountain cleft, the opulence of Petra — the Nabataean capital that is usually known as the Rose Metropolis — sits on the finish of a slim, 1,200-meter-long passageway. This shadowy path, flanked by 100-meter-high canyon partitions of rose-colored sandstone, means that the Nabataeans would somewhat be hidden than seen. They doubtless selected the rocky citadel of Petra as their capital as a result of it allowed them to mix naturally into the desert environment whereas serving as a fortified stronghold to guard their traded items from hostile neighbors — such because the Greeks and Romans.
Nonetheless, the Nabataeans didn’t come from the town of Petra. In reality, historians know that the Nabataeans lived as nomads within the areas of northwestern Arabia for lots of of years earlier than the primary everlasting buildings in Petra appeared. In his work, Nabataeans and Historical past, Robert Wenning writes:
“One will get the impression from the well-known report of Hieronymus of Cardia about Petra and the Nabataeans that Petra in 311 B.C. was not but the seat of the tribe and positively not the spiritual heart of the Nabataeans. Due to this fact, one shouldn’t misread the location throughout this era. It could be described as a campsite with just a few folks in control of the frankincense shops and the herds of dromedaries within the surrounding space […].”
“There isn’t any cause to disclaim the nomadic nature of the Nabataeans. Archaeological proof demonstrates that the Nabataeans lived predominantly in tents and presumably in rock-cut caves till the Augustan interval [approximately 43 B.C. to A.D. 18] after they began to construct homes. Petra ought to be seen as an excellent tent website for a very long time throughout the earlier intervals.”
Nabataeans and Petra
One would possibly additional argue that the Nabataeans — attributable to their love of freedom and desire for nomadic life — didn’t think about Petra as their “residence” even on the peak of its opulence. In line with Nabatea.internet, Petra might have had 20,000 to 30,000 inhabitants. However most lived in tents throughout the countryside, smaller villages, caravans or buying and selling ships.
No matter whether or not the Nabataeans noticed Petra as a everlasting residence, it’s clear that they didn’t originate from the Rose Metropolis. As an alternative, Petra grew to turn into the point of interest of those nomadic folks for the sensible causes of needing a secure and guarded stronghold for commerce, commerce and organizing their huge desert kingdom.
Historians agree that the nomadic Nabataeans had been inhabiting northwestern Arabia no less than by the 4th century B.C. and presumably as early because the sixth century B.C. So, the place did the Nabataeans come from earlier than this time if it wasn’t Petra?
4 Nabataean Origin Theories
As an alternative of attempting to show one Nabataean origin idea over one other, let’s have a look at the 4 most generally accepted theories that historians suggest:
1. Arab Origin Idea
Essentially the most broadly accepted idea amongst fashionable students is the Arab origin idea. This idea, which Jan Retsö writes about within the 1988 article “Nabataean Origins — As soon as Once more,” means that the Nabataeans had been an Arab tribe that moved from southern Arabia and Yemen to northwestern Arabia and Jordan at a while throughout the sixth and 4th centuries B.C. The Arab-origin idea relies on linguistic, cultural and historic proof — together with the truth that Nabataeans spoke an Arabic dialect and engaged in an Arabian type of spirituality.
2. A Confederation of Tribes
The following most-popular idea is that the Nabataeans had been a confederation of Arabs, Arameans, Edomites and different cultures and tribes that unified beneath frequent management to type a kingdom. As described in Robert Wenning’s above-quoted 2007 ebook, Nabataeans in Historical past, the speculation relies on historic and genetic proof suggesting that the Nabataeans interacted with and absorbed many cultures and peoples within the space — together with Edomites, Moabites, Ammonites, Hellenes and Romans.
3. Babylonian and Aramean Immigrants
One other idea is that the Nabataeans had been a bunch of Babylonian and Arameans who migrated to Arabia — presumably for political and financial causes — and in the end assumed the Arab identification. This idea is described in J.F. Healey’s 2001 ebook, The Faith of the Nabataeans, and it’s primarily based on archeological and written proof. In line with Healey, the Nabataeans used an Aramaic-derived script and had been in touch with Babylonian tradition, which means that they could have been of Babylonian and Aramean origin themselves.
4. Persian Origin Idea
As explored within the 1997 work of D.F. Graf, Rome and the Arabian Frontier, the Persian origin idea claims that the Nabataeans had been Persian colonists who settled in Arabia throughout the Achaemenid Empire (550 to 330 B.C.). The idea alleges that the colonists later rebelled in opposition to the empire. The idea makes historic sense however lacks direct proof to assist it.
Though it isn’t totally clear the place these prosperous, camel-bound and freedom-loving nomads got here from, the theories introduced on this article about Nabataean origins are the most effective now we have at present. Till extra Nabataean mysteries are uncovered, we are able to’t make sure of something.
Who is aware of, perhaps within the not-too-distant future, an adventurous archeologist will dig up a storehouse of historical Nabataean histories — written within the Nabataean script and hidden deep inside the guts of a rose-colored mountain, similar to Petra itself.