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The Religious Life of Nabataea

ALPASS, PETER,JOHN (2011) The Religious Life of Nabataea. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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‘The Religious Life of Nabataea’ examines the evidence for the religious practices and beliefs of the inhabitants of the Nabataean kingdom. It analyses material produced in the large area of the north-western Arabian Peninsula that was under the rule of the Nabataean king until the annexation of his kingdom by Rome in AD 106. Because of the scarcity of literary sources describing Nabataea, this study is largely dependent on inscriptions, with architectural and archaeological remains helping to put these better into their context.
It is argued that a number of methodological problems with earlier studies have produced an inaccurate picture of a ‘Nabataean religion’ that cannot be easily reconciled with this material. The focus has been on recovering the identities and characteristics of individual gods and the relationships between them. Inconsistencies and diversities in the evidence have often been minimised in order to produce a coherent model or system of beliefs that ‘the Nabataeans’ followed. Underpinning this has been the scholarly perception of Nabataea as a culturally monolithic bloc that was inhabited by a people following the same way of life.
This study takes a different approach, analysing the material first and foremost in its local context. Each chapter therefore focuses on a different centre or region of Nabataea, before the conclusion compares these to consider the kingdom as a whole. It is concluded that there is very little sign of a coherent pattern of religious practice covering Nabataea. On the contrary, it is the variety of practices that emerges most strongly. Although this area was all under the control of the Nabataean king, its religious life was dominated by a diversity of much more local traditions.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Nabataea religion
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Classics and Ancient History, Department of
Thesis Date:2011
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:10 Jan 2012 16:05

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