Khirbet et-Tannur: a new approach

Online resources for the study of the ancient world are increasingly available in recent years.  Interactive websites are creating environments conducive for learning in a supplementary way to publications.  This is accomplished though online collections, mapping, and 3D modeling.  By creating these resources for as many archaeological sites as possible, we are giving history a new life and a wider spread of influence in modern life.

The Nabatean people were lost in the sands of the desert for centuries only to recently be lost in the pages of books.  This fascinating and important culture existed in the ancient Near East, stretching from Arabia, across Jordan, and into the Negev and the Sinai.  They were skillful merchants and vital to the spice trade. They are best known for their architecture; specifically the cliff side carved building of Petra.  Another site was excavated in the 1930’s by Nelson Glueck that is essential to the study of Nabatean religion, which has long been ignored: Khirbet et-Tannur.

jebel tannur 001

Khirbet et-Tannur is a Nabatean temple located in Wadi Hasa built on the summit of the 300m high Jebel Tannur 70km north of Petra.  Construction of the temple started in the 2nd-3rd century BCE and continued through three phases till the 1st century CE. The temple was highly decorated and contained statues and reliefs of many deities, such as Zeus Hadad, Atargatis, and fish and grain goddesses.  Without any remains of settlement, Khirbet et-Tannur was most likely a sanctuary for pilgrimages.  Due to its remote area the site has remained untouched for many years.

Tannur_Temple_Map

Renewed interest in the Nabatean culture and Khirbet et-Tannur has led to the recent release of two ASOR volumes on the site. The volumes detail Glueck’s excavation and propose new conclusions while giving readers an in-depth introduction to the site and the Nabatean culture of the region.  While these volumes are impressive, I wanted to create something for a wider audience.  Arising from a class project, the website for Khirbet et-Tannur was created Andrew Deloucas (now of Leiden University) and myself. The website combines an online collection of artifacts with ArcGIS mapping and Sketchup 3D models (both of which are available for download on the site) to create a resource for understanding this important site in the ancient world.  So, take a look through the site tannur.omeka.net

Tannur Temple