Perched on a cliff overlooking Nahal Zin, the Nabateans established Avdat as a caravanserai stop along the famed ‘Incense Route.’  In the Roman-Byzantine period, Avdat became a town but was later abandoned. Surveyed and excavated by several archaeological expeditions, today, Avdat is a national park and a well-preserved archaeological site.

History and Archaeology of Avdat

The Nabateans established Avdat about 2,200 years ago as a caravanserai north of the Ramon Crater. They named it after King Avdat, who reigned in the first century and may have been buried at the site. In 106 CE, Romans abolished the Nabatean Kingdom, replacing it with ‘PROVINCIA ARABIA FELIX’ (‘The blessed Arabian province’). Under Roman rule, Avdat developed and expanded, including a military camp.

Avdat’s Mysterious Military Camp

Avdat-Roman-Army-1East of Avdat, there are evident remains of a square-shaped Roman-style army camp. Measuring 330 square feet, several archaeological expeditions studied the site. Some believe it was a Nabaten military camp (A. Negev). Others claim it was a Roman camp built in the 2nd century CE (R. Cohen and P. Fabian) or the late 3rd Century CE (T. Ericsson-Gini). A service area next to the camp may have functioned as a bakery and a brothel.

Avdat Christianized, Abandoned and Re-Exposed

In the 4th century, Avdat began to develop a Christian character. Two churches were built in the city’s citadel, replacing a former pagan temple. Big baptismal fonts set in the churches enabled the baptizing of the whole population. The town continued to thrive and expand, but in the 6th century, several earthquakes caused substantial damage to the site. By the 8th century, after its Muslim conquest, Avdat was abandoned and forgotten. The site was re-identified only in 1870, and since the early 20th century several archaeological expeditions excavated the site. Today, after restoration, development and installtion of art works, Avdat is a great place to learn about the Negev settlement in the classical periods.

Visiting Avdat

Avdat is a National park and a UNSECO World Heritage Site. It is open every day of the week and has an admission fee. Its main points of interest are the Visitors’ Center, the burial cave, the city’s fortress, which includes two churches, the military camp, the wine cellar cave, and the Bathhouse.

A tour of Avdat can be combined with a multi-day tour of the Holy Land.

Contact us to inquire more about a private tour to Avdat:

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