Divers identify temple to Arabian god in Italy
A team of marine archaeologists working off the coast of Italy has identified a submerged Nabatean temple dating to the early first century CE, according to the Italian Ministry of Culture. The Nabatean temple is the first that has been discovered outside of the traditional territory of the wealthy Arabian kingdom of the Nabateans, which extended from southern Syria to northern Arabia, with its capital at the ancient rock-cut city of Petra in southern Jordan.
Located in Pozzuoli, near Naples, the temple was dedicated to the god Dushara, the head of the Nabatean pantheon and the patron god of the Nabatean kingdom. The Nabatean temple was identified through the discovery of two marble altars. Archaeologists had long suspected that such a temple had existed in the ancient port city of Pozzuoli (Roman Puteoli). Since the 18th century, Nabatean artifacts bearing Latin dedicatory inscriptions to Dushara have been uncovered at the archaeological site, although the precise location of the Nabatean temple had remained a mystery. Originally located in the heart of the old city, the temple was submerged around the fourth century CE as the waters of the Mediterranean began to rise. In addition to the Nabatean temple, the archaeology team also identified roads, warehouses, and administrative buildings of the ancient port.
“Ancient Puteoli reveals another of its treasures,” said Gennaro Sangiuliano, the Minister of Culture. “[This discovery] testifies to the richness and vastness of commercial, cultural, and religious exchanges in the Mediterranean basin in the ancient world.” During the first century, Puteoli was an important economic center and the largest commercial port in the Roman Mediterranean. The Nabateans, though rooted in modern Jordan and northern Saudi Arabia, had economic and trade interests that gave them a presence throughout the Mediterranean, including, as we now know, at the merchant enclave of Pozzuoli near Naples.
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