Nabataean hydrotechnology

The Nabataeans were a nomadic people who settled in northwestern Arabia. Their capital Petra is located in present-day Jordan and became one of the most important ancient caravan cities of the Orient. Still today this arid region is considered dry and barren. The permanent settlement of the area was therefore only possible with high levels of administrative effort and building technology. In this context, water was not only a fundamental necessity of life, but also played a central role in other areas, such as ritual use or for prestigious exhibition in the urban context.

The research project ‘Hydro Technologies of the Nabataeans’ will deal with all aspects of Nabataean hydraulic engineering. It examines different techniques used in Petra and other selected settlements and regions of the Nabataean period, with due attention paid to local similarities, differences and developments in the use of hydraulic technology. Furthermore, a diachronic comparison of hydraulic engineering perspectives with other ancient cultures is essential to determine models for techniques, structures and organisational forms. As a final aspect, contemporary relevance is also explored. This will on the one hand analyse to what extent Nabataean hydraulic technology contributes to the preservation of ancient monuments and on the other hand how it could serve to counteract the modern problem of water scarcity.

Researcher: Laura Weis