The ancient city of Avdat in the Negev is a striking reminder of the centrality of the Land of Israel in the ancient trading routes.
Avdat was founded by the Nabatean king Avdat II. The Nabateans were a tribe of merchants who came to Israel from the Arabian Peninsula during the Persian area.
The city was founded especially in this place because of the famous “Incense Route” which was one of the most important trade routes of the ancient times and which connected The East and Europe of those days. The route began in Arabia and continued to the Mediterranean. The route allowed the trade of many luxury items such as perfumes, silk, spices, gems, color, and more.
The section between Petra in Transjordan and Gaza in Israel was held by the Nabateans and Avdat was the most important city in this axis.
The city continued to be of major importance even after the disappearance of the Nabateans. Rome and Byzantine controlled the city in turn and established many temples. Today the site has many impressive remains, including a residential neighborhood with a lookout tower, a wine-press, remains of temples and churches, a military camp, many cave dwellings, a well preserved bathhouse, etc.
In 2005 Avdat was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.