Archaeologists from two universities in Naples, Italy found the remains of an ancient temple submerged in the western Mediterranean for 2,000 years, according to Ancient Origins.

The Nabatean temple was dedicated to the god Dushara and is believed to date back to a time when Nabataean people lived in the Phlegrean Peninsula.

The temple’s link to the Nabateans was confirmed by the discovery of two Roman marble altars that suggest the temple was built during a time when the Nabateans were living under the Roman Empire’s control. 

The discovery represents evidence of the Nabataean presence in the area, revealing the richness and vastness of commercial, cultural, and religious exchanges in the Mediterranean basin in the ancient world.

According to historians, during the Imperial era of Rome, the Nabataean Kingdom established a base of operations on the Italian coast, and Puteoli was the largest commercial port in the Roman Mediterranean, making it an attractive location for the trade-minded people.

Fish are seen swimming below the Mediterranean Sea, where climate change has forced many animals to swim to new depths. (credit: Dr. Shevy Rothman)

Archaeologists have now uncovered evidence that a thriving community of Nabataeans once lived in the ancient city of Puteoli, which is now submerged off the coast of Pozzuoli in central Italy

This complex helps to confirm the Nabataeans’ commitment to their religion and sheds light on their way of life during their time in Italy, according to Ancient Origins.

Who were the Nabataean people?

The Nabataeans appeared on the historical stage with an advanced culture during the fourth and second centuries BCE. 

Prior to this, the Nabataeans had lived in the desert regions of Arabia and the southern Levant for centuries, existing as a nomadic group in a harsh and arid environment.

The Nabataean people had been in contact with the Babylonians and the Neo-Assyrian Empire during the first millennium BCE. However, despite the interaction, the Nabataeans managed to remain unconquered, as their territory in the arid desert made it difficult for the empires to penetrate.

The Nabataeans first emerged as a people with a rich culture between the fourth and second centuries BCE. As their population grew in the third century BCE, they formed a loose confederation of various groups that eventually became the Nabataean Kingdom.

This kingdom thrived through the trade networks it created in the region, extending its control throughout the Arabian and Sinai Peninsulas and deeply into the Levant. 

The Nabataeans’ capital, Petra, located in what is now southern Jordan, grew into a major regional trading center with a population of over 20,000.

The Nabataeans were renowned for their fierce independence and resilience in the face of any challenge. They were formidable opponents in battle and refused to be conquered easily.

Despite initial conflicts with the Romans, the Nabataeans eventually formed a powerful alliance with the Roman Empire in the first century CE, which greatly enhanced their commercial prospects and catapulted them to unprecedented prosperity. 

However, in 160 CE, the Roman emperor Trajan annexed all Nabataean Kingdom lands, and the Nabataeans lost their independence for the first time in 1,000 years.

The discovery of the temple represents an exciting find for archaeologists and historians, providing a glimpse into the complex cultural and religious exchange in the Mediterranean basin during ancient times.