Beyond Petra: Nabataean Cultic and Mortuary Practices and the Cultural Heritage of the Negev and Edom

Juan Manuel Tebes


It is well known that the Nabataeans adopted and modified foreign cultic and funerary practices for their own religious purposes, particularly from the Greco-Roman and Egyptian worlds. However, their origins and precedents lie in the millennia-old cultural heritage of the peoples of the southern arid margins of the Levant and northern Arabia. This paper will make a reassessment of the Nabataean cultic and mortuary practices as they can be seen in rural and desert sites outside Petra, analyzing them within the background of their antecedents in southern Transjordan (ancient Edom) and the Negev. Particular attention will be placed on two types of evidence: the geographical distribution and evidences of re-visiting and re-use of extra-mural Nabataean shrines and burials; and Edomite archaizing features present in the temple of Khirbet et-Tannur. Taking the evidence as a whole, it will be concluded that the debate of a local vs. external origin of these Nabataean cultic practices is a false dichotomy.


Nabataeans, Cult, Mortuary practices, Extra-mural shrines, Edomites.

Full Text:



  • There are currently no refbacks.