Nabataean Religion and Its Pantheon Through Pre-Islamic and Early Islam Sources: al-Lāt, al-ʽUzzā and Manāt

Lamia Kenoussi

Abstract


In 106 AD, the Nabataean kingdom was annexed by the Roman Empire. However, the culture and religion of the Nabataeans persisted until the coming of Christianity and later, as witnessed by some Islamic sources. This contribution presents several aspects of Nabataean religion, using the example of three major deities, the triad al-Lāt, Al-ʻUzzā and Manāt, which are attested by some pre-Islamic archaeological evidence and reported on by early Arabic-Muslim sources. Two major Arabic sources dealing with this triad are the Qur’ān and subsequent the Arabic historiography which has been transmitted to us by Ibn al-Kalbī, Ibn Hishām and Yāqūt al-Ḥamawī. The method used in the article includes an inventory of relevant texts found in the Qur’ān, an analysis of this inventory, as well as the commentary on the verse mentioning our three goddesses, and another part in which we will elucidate the relevant data provided by archaeological finds. The conclusions reveal that archeology confirms a number of data from the Arab documents, but only to some extent because these historical sources are influenced by their authors and the historical and cultural context where they appear.

Keywords


Nabataean religion, al-Lāt, deities, Qur’ān, Arabic historiographers

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