One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A member of an ancient Arabian people who from 312 BC formed an independent kingdom with its capital at Petra (now in Jordan). The kingdom was allied to the Roman Empire from 63 BC and incorporated as the province of Arabia in AD 106.
- ‘Petra was founded as a trading centre by a people called the Nabateans.’
- ‘Petra is the legendary ancient city of the Nabateans, which was rediscovered by a Swiss explorer in 1812.’
- ‘Within the gaunt pinnacles, in colours that represent ores and igneous rock, Ancient Egyptians, Semites and Nabataeans have left evidence of passage.’
- ‘Petra, in what is now southern Jordan, was the Washington and New York City of the Nabataeans, the capital city and cultural center of a powerful nation built on the spice trade.’
- ‘The same conditions that challenged the Nabataeans complicate conservation efforts at the Petra site today.’
2mass noun The extinct language of the Nabataeans, a form of Aramaic strongly influenced by Arabic.
Relating to the Nabataeans or their language.
- ‘This ancient Nabatean city is so rich in history that everyday something new is being discovered.’
- ‘A notable achievement of Nabataean technology was their elaborate network for water collection, storage, and distribution in their cities, as well as for agricultural use throughout the kingdom.’
- ‘There are few locations in Egypt where evidence of Ancient Egyptian, Semitic and Nabataean culture overlap.’
- ‘The Arabic alphabet, which was likely derived from Aramaic and Nabataean scripts, probably originated in the fourth century AD.’
- ‘The port also serves as the ideal base for visiting Petra, the ancient Nabatean city carved into the russet sandstone hills.’
From Latin Nabat(h)aeus, Greek Nabat(h)aios (compare with the Arabic adjective Nabaṭī ‘relating to the Nabataeans’) + -an.
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