NABATEAN TEMPLE

Only steps away from the Rest House in Wadi Rum village, the ancient Nabatean Temple speaks to the proximity of a two-thousand year old civilization with our modern world, and when you walk the dusty path towards the ruins it is easy to imagine the presence of a once-great people buried beneath your feet. The ruins themselves blend modestly into the yellow sand here, emerging in toppled columns and pitted baths in the shadow of a great mountain.

Dated from 32 AD, the Nabatean Temple holds significance because it proves that the previously nomadic Nabatean tribe established a permanent settlement in this area as early as the first century. By maintaining control over strategic locations along ancient trading routes, the Nabateans went from a position of obscurity to one of power, eventually going on to construct one of the New Seven Wonders of the World: Petra.

Though Wadi Rum’s Nabatean Temple cannot compare in scale to Petra, it is still worth visiting.  Walk among the ruins, shade yourself in the coolness of  an ancient pillar, clamber over sandstone piled high to revere a long-forgotten deity. The temple is dedicated to the goddess Allat, who is associated with the Greek goddess Athena, Alexander the great had conquered these lands 300 years earlier.

Just a few metres from the temple is another impressive site: the oldest baths discovered in Jordan. Deep cisterns preserved below ground in a maze of walls and luxurious tubs indicate that the Nabateans were innovative engineers, with ways of transporting and storing the water that flowed from a spring in the nearby Jebel Rum mountain. Great thinkers and religious peoples, the Nabateans belonged to a culture that deserves to be remembered. Here, in the ruins of where they once worshiped, bathed, and lived, an intrepid traveller can still feel their presence.

The temple is on the fringes of Wadi Rum Village and is easily accessed by foot for any visitors and as such it is not included in any tours. There is a trail that leads to the temple behind the Wadi Rum Rest house and guests can access this location either before leaving for the camp or on their return to the village, The GPS coordinates are 29.577886N, 35.41461E.

 

FAST FACTS:

  1. Built in the 1st century to worship Goddess Allat (developed from earlier influence of Greek goddess Athena).
  2. Nearby baths are oldest baths in Jordan, show that the Nabateans were great engineers able to direct and store water.