Understanding the Nabataean House. Domestic Architecture and the Nabataean Society (312 BC - 106 AD)

by Sophie Tews

Institution: Leiden University
Year: 2014
Keywords: Nabataean; Houses; Jordan; Culture and Identity
Record ID: 1260291
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1887/28368


The incredible rock-cut architecture at the Nabataean capital of Petra, Jordan, has marveled many. They have been, and still are, the subject of many archaeological projects in the region. However, the scholarly emphasis on these Nabataean monuments has casted a shadow over all things mundane. Due to this focus, surprisingly little is known about the Nabataean kingdom (second century BC- AD 106), and the people within. Although houses have been excavated from the beginning of the research in the 1930’s onwards, and successfulness of the study of societies through houses in the archaeological record has been well established for other periods in the Near East, the results of these studies are not yet integrated in the study of the Nabataean society as a whole. This thesis aims to give an overview of the available information about houses which were excavated in the past, and to use this information to reconstruct these buildings and their function. Subsequently, this information is used, together with information from epigraphic and ethnographic sources, to study the different social structures which are represented in the dataset. Lastly, on the basis of the Nabataean material culture (small finds, public and private architecture) this culture is placed into the regional context of the Hellenised world. From this study, it becomes apparent that the perspective on non-monumental architecture is a useful one to study the Nabataean society and complement the data from previous studies. It is shown that the houses do not only provide more information about the society, but that they can also be used to contextualize the monuments, and especially their architectural styles.