Ynet News reports that Avdat, a Nabataean site in the Negev, has been severely damaged by vandals. In August, 2008, I had Avdat on my list of places to visit. We made it to the site, but it was within 30 minutes of closing time and the guard would not allow us to go to the top. I regret that we missed seeing everything — even more now.
Raviv Shapira, director of the southern district of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority told Ynet that the sight of the destruction was awful: “We came in the morning and found the place in shambles,” described Shapira, “They broke the staircase, destroyed the walls, and painted on them. The worst is that the two most ancient churches in Israel were destroyed, and 13-foot columns were shattered with hammers along with artifacts and the authentic marble alter, which is the most important (artefact) in the city.”
The Nabataeans founded Avdat around the 3rd century BC, along the “Perfume Road” which stretched between the Jordanian city of Petra and Gaza. The place was named after the Nabataean king, Avdat, who was also buried at the site. According to Shapira, Avdat was the most important historic city on the “Perfume Road” after Petra between the 1st century BC and the 7th century AD, and was inhabited by Nabataeans, Romans and Byzantines.
We typically refer to the “Perfume Road” as the “Spice Road.” Read the full story here (including a video).
HT: Joseph I. Lauer