The Hanging Baths of Jabal Khubthah (Petra): Preliminary Conclusions Following Archaeological and Architectural Studies (2015-2017)

Thibaud Fournet, Nicolas Paridaens

Abstract


The Jabal Khubthah summit, generally interpreted as a religious “high-place”, remained poorly understood until an archaeological survey initiated in 2012. The new project revised this interpretation, particularly after the discovery of a bath complex built on a breathtaking location, at the very edge of the cliff. After three archaeological campaigns we were able to elucidate parts of its chronology and to reach a tentative reconstruction. The bath presents a rather classical plan, associating a cold area, a tepid one, and a hot room, endowed with two heated plunges. Most of those remains can be dated to the second half of the fourth century AD and will have been abandoned at the end of fourth century or the beginning of the fifth century. However, the excavation revealed that the building was built on an earlier bath complex, poorly preserved, but possibly dating back to the beginning of the second century AD. Connected with other structures, this first bath building seems to be linked to the small naos preserved further south. Altogether with other reexamined bath buildings, in and around Petra, this new discovery sheds new light on the adoption process of Roman bathing practices in the Nabataean world.

Keywords


Romanization; Roman baths; Architecture; Religious practices; Ancient technology

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