The ancient Nabatean city of Avdat, a magnificent desert city that survived over a thousand years sticks out above a white mountain spur.
Avdat was named after Avdat, the Nabataean King and was founded in the fourth century BC as a way station for desert caravans that passed through incense trade routes from south of the Arabian Peninsula to the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea.
In the second century, the Nabateans abandoned the nomadic lifestyle and become farmers. Their existence was based on the few rain falling in the desert, which they gathered through an extensive system of water collection and drainage, whose remains survived till to this day.During the Byzantine period, the city reached its zenith when the townspeople converted to Christianity and assimilated well in the Byzantine culture.
With the general decline that the Negev suffered after the Arab conquest in 636 AD, Avdat was gradually abandoned.The uniqueness of Avdat and finds discovered in it led to the declaration of the site as a World Heritage Site in 2005.
The tour in Avdat starts by walking from the parking lot to the south – east towards a large affluent home that was built on the slope as typical house at that period with a courtyard surrounded by rooms.
In this house, like the other city houses, the roof was flat and eaves dropped from it into the paved courtyard that usually included a private cistern. Once the private cisterns were filled, the excess water flowed through stone canals to the streets and squares and were collected into pools and public cisterns.
We’ll go up the trail passes through the street remains towards the towerthat looms over the city, from which there is a spectacular view of the city and the surrounding terraces.
We will continue towards the north west in the street that is cobblestone by houses and a system of channels and cisterns. About 50 meters after the tower, we will get to a unique grapes pressing system which have been used for growing in the Byzantine period.
In the surrounding cells, the grapes that came from the vineyards were dismantled and stored. In the large surface in the center, the grapes were stomped and in the big pit the new wine (Tirosh) was preserved before packed and stored into jugs.
From here go north toward the fort that was built in the late Roman period, at the end of the third century. Between the thick and high walls, watch towers are located and in the center of the fort there is a large courtyard and a water cistern. When threatened, the townspeople gathered in the fort until it was calm again.
We will continue south – west and reach the Church of St. Theodore, built in the sixth century AD. The four marble slabs that are fixed in the church floor are graves. We will continue west towards the North Church, here near the western wall there is a large baptismal font in the shape of a cross, indicating adult baptism rituals, which were designed to convert the pagans.Down the path we will go through the Byzantine living next to a cave that served as a winery. A few steps more and we have reached the parking lot.