Nabataean or Late Roman ? Reconsidering the date of the paved sections and milestones along the Petra – Gaza road

Scholars have dated the built section and the milestones found in the Negev along the Petra-Gaza incense route to the Nabataean period. Apart from the Negev, no built section or milestones along the incense routes from the Persian Gulf or from Southern Arabia to Petra have been recorded. We would like to define two stages of the road in the Negev. The first, as a camel route, is indeed dated to the Nabataean period and is apparently part of the Petra-Gaza incense route. The second stage, with the built sections and the milestones, should be dated to the period beginning in the later half of the second century CE and ending in the early Byzantine period. These were erected as part of Roman military activity in the Negev, and not as part of the Petra-Gaza route. A similar phenomenon can be found in the Petra area, with two phases along Naqb ar-Ruba‘i, the most convenient descent from Petra westward. The first phase, indeed a Nabataean one, was a camel track leading to the Negev; the second phase was a wide, built road from the Roman period, leading to Aila.

Published in: " Nabataean or Late Roman ? Reconsidering the date of the paved sections and milestones along the Petra – Gaza road", in L. Nehme and L. Wadeson (eds.) The Nabataeans in Focus: Current Archaeological Research At Petra Oxford 2012, pp. 17-26.

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