Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Middle Eastern Studies


Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis


Simon Davis

Subject Categories

History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology | Water Resource Management


This paper evaluates the rise of Nabataean Petra, its prominence, and eventual decline. The predominant context is effective water management as a pivotal driving factor in the growth of the Nabataean kingdom, which fostered an environment in which its famous incense trade could develop. Rising incense demand was the catalyst for growth from the first century BC through the first century AD; in AD 106 when Rome annexed the Nabataean kingdom, Petra began its gradual decline. In AD 363 an earthquake destroyed much of the city, and Petra did not return to its earlier prominence. From the outset, water played a vital role in cementing Petra's position economically and politically, and later ornamental uses of water legitimized the kingdom and its rulers to its population and rivals.



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