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Avdat (عبدة), also known as Abdah and Ovdat and Obodat, is a site of a ruined Nabataean city in the Negev desert. It was the most important city on the Incense Route after Petra, between the 1st century BCE and the 7th century CE. It was founded in the 3rd century BCE, and inhabited by Nabataeans, Romans, and Byzantines.


Avdat was a seasonal camping ground for Nabataean caravans travelling along the early PetraGaza road (Darb es-Sultan) in the 3rd – late 2nd century BCE. The city's original name was changed to Avdat in honor of Nabataean King Obodas I, who, according to tradition, was revered as a deity and was buried there.

Notable Structures


Southern Basilica
The southern church was part of a Byzantine monastery of Saint Theodoros. It is located on the south-west side of the city. According to an inscriptions found on the floor of the church, it dates to the 6th and 7th century CE. The southern church is a three-aisled pillared basilica with three apses. The apses are located on its eastern side (as all ancient churches). The central apse, where the main altar stands.


Byzantine Quarter
Beyond the upper city wall and the is a vast area of ruins, which is still undergoing archaeological excavations and preservation. This residential quarter is dated to the Byzantine period. The quarter was first established during the Roman period, and was destroyed in an earthquake around 630 CE. The Byzantine quarter consists of a main street in the direction of south-east to north-west, directed towards the fortress which is seen in the background. The dwelling structures are built on both sides of the street. The street has a system of water channels, which direct the rain water from the roofs to collect water in the cisterns. These cisterns were the main source of water supply for the residents.


The fort with four corner towers was constructed on the ruins of early Nabataean structures north of Avdat at Horvat Ma'agora. The city fortress, located at the edge of the main street, was built also in the Byzantine period. Located west of the sacred precinct, its purpose was to protect the residents in the times of conflict. It covers an area of approximately 2500 square meters.


Northern Basilica
The Northern Basilica of Avdat is one of two basilicas found in Avdat, both dating back to the Byzantine era. Constructed during the fourth century CE, this basilica is associated with the Christian period of Avdat's history. There are inscriptions found on the floor of the church dating to the sixth and seventh centuries CE. The Northern Basilica, along with the Southern Church, played a significant role in the religious and cultural life of Avdat during this period.


Temple Precinct


Temple of Oboda
The building complex known as The Temple of Oboda sits on the acropolis of the city. The temple was built as a dedication to the deified Nabataean king Obodas I. The temple dedicated to the cult of Obodas the King was built with a hard-limestone in the year 9 BCE during the reign of Obodas II. The temple is a tripartite structure: consisting of a porch, hall and adytum.


See Also


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