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Nitzana (Nabataean city)

Tel Nizana.
Ancient petroglyphs near Tel Nizana.

Nitzana (Hebrew: ניצנה‎; transliterated at the site as "Nizana", Byzantine Greek Νιζάνα) is an ancient Nabataean city located in the southwest Negev desert in Israel close to the Egyptian border. It may have been a camel caravan station on the eastern branch of the ancient Incense Route, serving pilgrims and merchants travelling to Sinai or central Egypt. The Nabataean towns of the Negev were typically founded around the first century BC, conquered by Romans two centuries later, who garrisoned the site, and inhabited by Byzantine Christians from at latest the fourth century until the invasion and the Muslim conquest of Syria in the seventh century. Relatively few stones remain on the site because most were recycled into buildings in Gaza in the early 20th century.


  • Nessana papyri 1
  • Gallery 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Nessana papyri

During excavations in 1935-37,[1] a major trove of sixth- and seventh-century [3] Onomastics show that the largely Nabataean inhabitants of the city had become Christianized and Romanized in the early centuries CE, as well as documenting the arrival of a Byzantine phylarchate.[4] Many names of ancient cities in the Negev come only from these documents. One of the last of the papyri describes coinage struck and soldiers employed by 'Abd al-Malik, replacing the Roman institutions with a new Ummayad power structure.[5]


See also


  1. ^ Excavations recommenced in 1987 under the direction of Dan Urman of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. ontents of Excavations at Nessana, I (Harris Dunscombe Colt, ed. London, 1962); II, Literary Papyri (Lional Casson and Ernest L. Hettich, eds. Princeton, 1950.
  2. ^ Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the Fifth Century, 1989:143: "III The Nessana Papyri".
  3. ^ Contents of Excavations at Nessana, I (Harris Dunscombe Colt, ed. London, 1962); II, Literary Papyri (Lional Gasson and Ernest L. Hettich, eds. Princeton, 1950); III, Non-Literary Papyri Caspar J. Kraemer, ed. (Princeton, 1960); very brief summaries in Jodi Magness, The Archaeology of the Early Islamic Settlement in Palestine, vol. I: "Agriculture in the Nessana papyri" 2003:90f and Shahid 1989:143.
  4. ^ Shahîd, Irfan (1989). Byzantium and the Arabs in the fifth century. Dumbarton Oaks. p. 143. 
  5. ^ Hoffman, Eva Rose F. (2007). Late antique and medieval art of the Mediterranean world. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 91. 

External links

  • Photos of Nitzana archaeological site

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