Seafaring by the Nabataeans is virtually an archaeological unknown: Indeed, in the corpus of Nabataean studies the issue is not often addressed. The inhabitants of what is now northwestern Saudi Arabia and southern Jordan are mostly known for their rock-carved buildings and tombs, at least in popular venues. Ancient authors noted, however, that Nabataeans plied the waters of the Red Sea as traders or pirates, maintaining their major port at Leuke Kome, whose location remains undiscovered. Several harbors containing Nabataean aspects have been located along the Saudi coast through archaeological investigation, yet the study of the maritime aspects and accomplishments of the Nabataeans remains in its infancy. Nautical Archaeology in the Red Sea is also in its early stages, but research has begun to reveal the ships of antiquity and the cargoes they carried. This paper outlines the archaeological researches of shipwrecks in the Red Sea, and examines the potential of finding the remains of Nabataean seacraft on the sea lanes reaching from Aqaba to points along the Red Sea littoral.
Authors: Ralph K. Pedersen & Rupert A. Brandmeier
Published in: Studies on the Nabataean Culture II, Nabil I. Khairy, editor. Deanship of Scientific Research, The University of Jordan-Amman (2016): 11-24.