Jordan Journal of Civil Engineering

Paper Detail

Vulnerability of the Drinking Water Resources of the Nabataeans of Petra – Jordan

Volume 4, No. 4, 2010
Received: 2010/09/01, Accepted:


Mohammad Al-Farajat; Elias Salameh;


This article deals with pollution/toxicology in an archaeological frame. Although the Nabataeans had created a highly sophisticated water supply system, the water sources feeding the system can, according to recent evaluations, be considered as highly vulnerable to human activities within the catchment area of these resources or even to sabotage actions. The natural water quality of the sources, even after recent urban and agricultural development, is still suitable for drinking purposes and there are no signs in these waters of components, which may cause chronic of acute poisoning. The recharge, flow and discharge analyses show that only a few weeks are required for the recharge water of the close vicinity (10-20km) to reach the spring discharge sites. The extended Nabateans civilization ended abruptly within two years 106-108 A.D. The Romans surrounded the Nabataean city and conquered its outskirts. They most probably could not enter the near-Petra area to control the springs of Wadi Musa; supplying Petra. But, it seems that the catchment areas of these springs were known to them as they were to the Nabataeans. Could the Roman have misused the vulnerability of these water sources? Had the high vulnerability of the spring waters of Petra and Wadi Musa been the weak point leading to the end of the Nabataean civilization? These questions are discussed in the article, recognizing the necessity of further analysis and evaluation of the whole water supply system for evidence of eventual poisoning of the supply water.


Petra, Nabataeans, Romans, Water vulnerability, Water quality, Water supply.