Sunday, October 24, 2010

SHIVTA - שבטה

Shivta, the amazing ancient Nabatean city can be found totally off the beaten track in the south of Israel, about 40 km southwest from Beer Sheva in the Negev Desert. The location was cleverly chosen by its founders, the "Lords of the Desert" the early Nabateans. It was built along the famous Perfume and Incense Road which stretched almost 2500 km, over Oman and Yemen through Saudi Arabia till the Port of Gaza.
Shivta is located between the magnificent Nabatean capital Petra in today's Jordan and the port town of Gaza and connected to other Nabatean cities throughout the  Negev Desert, like Mamshit and Avdat. All three cities, Shivta, Mamshit and Avdat are honored to be on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
Precious perfumes and spices, their use already mentioned in the Bible, were transported along this road, through deserts of rock, granite and sand,  on the backs of camels  forming long caravans, often changing the route a bit to avoid robbers. This trade road flourished for hundreds of years, providing the items needed for body cosmetic and for rituals, and gave wealth and power to many merchants.
Shivta, called by the Arabs Isbeita, was build in the 1st century BC as a small farming community by Nabateans, the inhabitants of North Arabia, and mainly served as a caravan stop for the Nabatean traders of the Incense Route. When Christianity came to the region in the fourth century, churches were built and it began to prosper as an important and large Byzantine town.  Most of the dwellings at the site of today are Byzantine.
A protective wall around the city is formed by the outer ring of houses, facing all inside the town.
The ancient water system built by the Nabateans, is quite amazing, collecting every drop of rain in canals and leading them to big reservoirs. The city was spared destruction by the Moslem invaders and never faced an earthquake. Therefore the ruins are very well preserved.
I have been two times in Shivta before, each time in summer and in the middle of the day. That is almost unbearable because of the immense heat and I never got to enjoy the place thoroughly. Yesterday we were clever and have been there at seven o'clock in the morning. 
The air was fresh and the sun just warming, but not grilling us, so we could really concentrate on Shivta's wonders. Another added benefit of the early morning: no one but us was there! And even Dafi, who does not take the heat easy anymore, now that she is already more than ten years old, was smiling!
We strolled through the many streets, visited the houses and churches, discovered a lot of chiseled and embellished stones, delighted in the arches and columns, all under a blue sky with the desert mountains around us - the view breathtakingly beautiful!
Many of the houses had their own wells, water basins and ovens. The walls were built double with rubble stones filled in between them. There are signs that horses were raised or at least stabled there. We found wine presses with storage rooms, lovely rounded entrance stones, remnants of arches for bearing the roofs in many buildings, streets paved with big quarter blocks of stones.
In the churches christening pools in forms of crosses, hewn out of one slab of rock, are to be seen,  and the two rows of columns leading to the altar and apse can be admired.

Pigeons love the place and are models for some nice and awesome  pictures.
Oh yes, and I brought a crocheted bag and pillow. I thought we'll make some unusual photos - and well, I think we succeeded!
In the 7th century due to the Moslem invasion of the area and the lesser demand of perfume and spices the trade route had died out, and the cities along it where gradually deserted. Shivta was completely abandoned by the 9th century. 
Shivta, Subeita, Sobota, Isbeita, is a marvelous enchanted place, never destroyed, with so much to explore and to appreciate - and far far away from civilization - quiet and peaceful!
Enjoy our day with us - zoom in to see the details!

I crocheted the bag some time ago with torn fabric strips, adorned with yoyos, little handmade felt balls I brought back from a craft market in Hungary, and from beads, I  had rolled with painted tyvek paper strips, wrapped with yarn, and incised with a soldering iron.
Some weeks ago I found a wonderful blog on the net, called "Grossmuetterchen" (Grannies). A  group of women in Germany participated in a project of crocheting granny squares, exchanging them and joining them together as pillows. I really did like and admire that and it inspired me to make this pillow. Have a look at their lovely creations at the blog.

All photographs by Uri Eshkar


rachel awes said...

i LOOOOOVE your bag!!!
& this sight is gorgeous!...
love the story about the
transported purfumes here
& YOUR fragrance comes through
in goodness & strength.

rachel awes said...

oops! typo! ...perfumes! :)

2 B's World said...

Hallo Yael,
es ist total faszinierend, was Du uns an Bildern und Beschreibungen von der antiken Stadt mitbringst. Eine für mich geheimnisvolle und fremde Welt, die ich mit großem Interesse hier sehe. Ich stelle es mir sehr beeindruckend und bewegend vor, zwischen diesen alten Mauern, Steinen und Bögen zu stehen und ein wenig in die lange zurückgehende Geschichte einzutauchen.
Und mit deinem Kissen und der tollen Tasche hast Du Gegenwart und Vergangenheit herrlich miteinander verbunden.
Wie gut, daß ihr so früh am Tag dort wart und somit ein wenig die große Hitze ausgetrickst habt. ;-)
Schön euch drei auf den Bildern kennenzulernen.

Liebe Grüße von 2 B's

aurorafedora said...

wow! again, you bring us a look at an interesting and fascinating place! i think i would love to travel the perfume and incense road, what a great name! beautiful place and beautiful pictures!

Bernstein said...

Oh, was habt Ihr für schöne sonnigwarme Bilder von Eurem Ausflug mitgebracht.
Die Ruinen sind sehr beeindruckend. Unglaublich wie gut die Steine ineinanderpassen, obwohl die Menschen damals weder bei den Meß- noch bei den Arbeitswerkzeugen unsere Möglichkeiten hatten. Alles fügt sich ganz wunderbar, kraftvoll und sehr ästhetisch zusammen.
Das Kissen und die Tasche sind auch so schön geworden. Hat Dich der Häkelvirus also auch erwischt ;o))). Die Idee mit Stoffstreifen zu häkeln finde ich klasse. Außerdem habt Ihr für jedes Teil die passende Kulisse gefunden und es ganz wunderbar in Szene gesetzt.
Ich freue mich auch, Euch alle per Bild kennengelernt zu haben. Wie schon so oft beeindruckte, begeisterte und ganz herzliche Grüße
PS: Das Bild mit den Täubchen finde ich besonders rühren. Federleichte Wesen in einer Welt aus Stein.

Eva said...

Was für ein Schauplatz! Ach, ich bin auch verrückt danach, solche alten Stätten zu besuchen. Im vergangenen Juni in Side war ich auch in einem Rausch! Und was für eine herrliche Idee, seine Artefakte vor diesem Hintergrund zu fotografieren! Die bunte Tasche ist so fröhlich und schön. Auch wenn man nicht dabei war -- diese Bilder anzusehen ist ein Erlebnis.

veroque said...

גם תגובה עברית לא תזיק:)
כשאני רואה מקום כזה ומדמיינת שהיו שם פעם חיים פעילים, אהבות, כעסים, מסחר, בישולים וגם אומנות (שעדיין מתבטאת בפרטים הקטנים שעוד שרדו את השנים,) זה מדהים אותי מחדש.
חשבתי שהזוג יונים האלה אולי חוזרים לשם כבר דורי דורות ומתייחדים על אותה האבן.
התמונות מעולות בעיני, זאת עם היונים מלאה תנועה
וכמובן כל השאר - אחת אחת! למרות שלא ראיתי אפילו פרח אחד:)

הכרית והתיק יצאו מושלם, טוב שלקחת אותם איתכם למסע:)


Hilde said...

Thank you for sharing your trip with us, Yael! What an amazing place to visit with such fascinating ruins and walls. And the story is very interesting.

I love your bag and the pillow, great photos :)

glazedOver said...

So thoughtful of you to let us also escape the mid-day sun right along with you! Such a marvelous place. The history, the architecture, the pillow, the bag, the pigeons, Dafi, and you both...this was so much fun. I think I scrolled up and down maybe 10 times!

Dawn of LaTouchables said...

What an absolutely beautiful morning you three had! That bag is marvelous! The ruins are the kind I like discover the hidden beauty, imagine how it used to look.

Pesky Cat Designs said...

What an amazing place filled with so much history to be able to take an early morning stroll through! Loved taking the journey through your pics.

Your doggie looks quite handsome with his hat. What amazing details and work on your crocheted bag. :)

Smithy said...

This is one of the most interesting posts ever, Yael! I loved it. Ditto all the comments from everyone and again, thank you for an inspirational post. I loved the pix, the history, the craft and of course your beloved doggie :). I look so forward to your next post, dear friend :)

Thea said...

Dafi is so adorable. Your blog is very interesting and the ancient backgrounds are perfect backdrops for photographing your work. Thanks for visiting my blog too.