A cross-regional initiative for the study of
monasticism in the late antique Near East
Avdat in Late Antiquity Project
Avdat (Oboda) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the central Negev highlands, some 50 km south of Be'er Sheva. It was a stop along the Nabataean Incense Road through the Early Roman period and developed into a major town in late antiquity.
For the 2016 season, the Avdat in Late Antquity Project was pleased to have the support of a Fulbright Grant
from US Department of State and the US-Israel Educational Foundation (USIEF).
The town of Avdat is divided into an upper portion or acropolis, situated on a mesa some 80 m above the surrounding terrain, and a lower portion including more than 400 cave dwellings carved out of the rock in terraces along the northern, southern, and western slopes of the mesa. Previous archaeological excavations have focused on the fortified acropolis and have revealed, among other architecture, two Christian churches, one of which -the South Church- seems to be associated with a monastery and martyr cult of Saint Theodore. It is believed that some of the cave dwellings also had a monastic function. The Avdat in Late Antiquity Project represents the first large-scale study of these dwellings and how they inform our understanding of the late antique townscape and 'urban' monasticism in the central Negev region.
Closer view of some of the terraced cave dwellings along the western slope of Avdat.
One of the challenges of studying these caves is the amount of collapse caused by an earthquake that severely damaged Avdat in the early 7th century CE. The image shows a partially obscured cave surrounded by the debris from the earthquake.
The Avdat in Late Antquity Project wishes to acknowledge the continuing support of DePaul University through the
Department of History, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, University Research Council, and Vincentian Endowment Fund.