Nabataean Names

Map of the Ancient Middle East

The Nabataeans

The Nabataeans were a Western Aramaic-speaking people who grew rich from the caravan trade. Aramaic was a common trade language in the region. The Nabataeans moved into the area by about 312 BC. They originally came from somewhere in the Arabian peninsula or from Mesopotamia or the Persian Gulf area. As the power of the Seleucids over the area faded, the Nabataean kingdom grew strong. From their capital city at Petra, the Nabataeans controlled the trade routes in Sinai, the Negev, southern Syria, and part of the Hejaz in northwestern Saudi Arabia. North-bound traders from Arabia Felix (Yemen) brought incense, myrrh, and spices up to Nabataean merchants, who offered copper and bitumen in exchange for the spices. Spices from India were brought to ports like Gerrha, a port on the Arabian side of the Persian Gulf, and were sold at places like Leuke Kome, an important Nabataean market city on the Arabian coast of the Red Sea. The Nabataeans then sold the spices to merchants in Mediterranean ports, such as Gaza and Alexandria. From there, the spices made their way to Greece and Italy. The capital city of Petra is not the only Nabataean city with rock-hewn tombs. The southern Nabataean town of Hegra, in the Hejaz, also has rock-hewn tombs. Over time, the Romans redirected trade away from Petra. In 106 A.D., the Nabataean kingdom was annexed by Rome. Petra became a leading city in the Roman province of Arabia Petraea. The Nabataeans eventually merged with the Arabian population. (1)

The following are the names of the queens and kings of Petra, who lived from c.170 B.C. to 106 A.D. in lands once held by the Edomites. (1)

Nabataean Female Names

Gamilat (1)
Haganu (1)
Hagru (1)
Huldu (1)
Shaqilat (1)

Nabataean Male Names

Aretas (1)
Malichus (1)
Obodas (1)
Rabbel (1)

Nabataean Deities

Al-Kutba - God of writing and divination (1)
Allat - A goddess associated with Athena (1)
Al-Uzza - A goddess associated with Aphrodite or Venus (1)
Baalshamin - An Edomite and Syrian god (1)
Dushara - God of Shera, a mountain east of Petra, and the protector of royalty (1)
Manawat - A goddess associated with Fate or Nemesis (1)


(1) Petra: Lost City of the Ancient World, Christian Auge and Jean-Marie Dentzer, New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1999, 2000.

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Updated November 30, 2009