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Arabia Adquisita: the Romanization of the Nabataean Cultic Calendar and the Tannur ‘Zodiac’ Paradigm

2019. English

By
Juan Antonio Belmonte (author)
Summary
One of the most fascinating and enigmatic pieces of evidence of Nabataean ingenuity is the so-called Zodiac of Khirbet et-Tannur (Jordan), found in a temple built at the mountain summit close to Djebel Tannur in the first half of the second century CE, possibly when the ancient Nabataean Kingdom was already under Roman rule. However, Nabataean traditions and cults persisted during the Roman period and even survived well into Byzantine times. But one important change was the imposition of a Julian-like calendar, of Egyptian inspiration, instead of the original lunisolar calendar of the Nabataeans—earlier inherited and adapted from the Babylonian one—whose month names were however preserved under a solar perspective and a new time framework entitled Era Provincia Arabia. An analysis of the dates reported in the foundation inscriptions of the first century CE rock-carved tombs at the southern Nabataean city of Hegra, and other dated inscriptions of the Nabataean Kingdom period, has given some clues for us to look at the Tannur Zodiac with a different perspective. This new way of thinking has allowed a completely different approach to this masterpiece of art which is substantially different to most previous interpretations (see e.g. McKenzie et al. 2012). According to our hypothesis, we consider that it should be formally named the ‘almanac’ or ‘parapegma’ of Khirbet et-Tannur hereafter.
Keywords
Archaeoastronomy. Nabatean. Roman East.
Book details
Archaeoastronomy of the Roman World
2019 Springer
Edition 1