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The Lost Civilization of Petra [Hardcover]

HRH Prince Hassan of Jordan , Udi Levy , Christian von Arnim
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

21 Oct 1999 0863152988 978-0863152986
The Nabateans inhabited the Negev and Transjordanian desert around the time of Christ. A wealthy and largely peaceful people, they cultivated the desert and traded in spices and frankinsence from Saba, Persia, and India to the Mediterranean. They were among the first Christian converts who built some of the earliest churches in the Negev. All traces of this civilization disappeared for a thousand years until the rediscovery of its capital, Petra, in 1812.The ruined splendour of their temples and cities now draws visitors to Petra and Shivta from all over the world. So much about this ancient civilization remains veiled in mystery, however. Udi Levy provides a fully illustrated description of the Nabateans, their art, history and religion, and the desert agriculture in which they were so skilled. He weaves a fascinating picture of a peace-loving people developing their highly advanced culture in the war-torn region of Palestine. The book guides the reader through the best-preserved ruins and monuments of Petra and the desert cities of the Negev, and gives many practical tips for the visitor.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Floris Books (21 Oct 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0863152988
  • ISBN-13: 978-0863152986
  • Product Dimensions: 24.8 x 17.8 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,049,696 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

"A rose-red city half as old as time" is the poet Dean Burgon's famous description of the ruins of the ancient city of Petra, deep in the mountainous desert south of the Dead Sea. Rediscovered by the outside world only in the 19th century, Petra is a place of mystery; its temples, carved into the living rock face, are beautiful, majestic and barely understood.

Who were the people who built Petra? When did they live here? How did they manage to live here, in one of the most inhospitable places on Earth? These are the questions posed by Udi Levy in The Lost Civilization of Petra and the answers are fascinating.

Petra was the capital of the Negev kingdom, an independent nation from at least a century before to at least a century after Christ, through the Nabateans lived there as nomadic shepherds for many centuries before and after that period. Levy explains the importance of the trade routes through his region joining Europe with Africa; he discusses the history of the Nabateans, the influences upon them, and their place in Middle Eastern society at the time of Jesus; and he describes at lenght what is known of their religious beliefs--including the fact that they were among the earliest Christians.

The only disappointment is that the chapter describing Petra itself is a mere 20-pages long. Against that, the book justifies its high cover price by its many stunning colour photographs of the desolate and awesome Nagev region, and of the unique carved temples in Petra. --David V Barrett

About the Author

Udi Levy was born in 1952 in Jerusalem. He trained as an educator for children in need of special care in Switzerland before returning to Israel where he now works in a theraputic village near Beer Sheba at the northern edge of the old Nabatean kingdom.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Informative but also careless 9 July 2001
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Udi Levy's book is based mainly on the work of German and Israeli scholars, and the bibliography he gives is fairly impressive. It is well illustrated and reasonably informative about that mysterious people, the Nabateans, and is particularly good in what it says about their contribution to the growth of early Christianity and to the development of the architecture of early Christian churches. It is, however, sometimes vague and repetitive and unfortunately not sufficiently informative about the Nabatean site every tourist visits, Petra. The English translation from the Hebrew is not very elegant and occasionally unclear. The proof-reading is poor, and a few sentences are simply incomplete. In the chapter on Shivta, there is a large illustration showing a reconstruction of the Middle Church in that ruined city, but nothing about it in the text, save a sub-heading. The book needs an overhaul to make it clearer and more readable.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Details not found in other books... 2 Mar 2003
By James - Published on
Udi Levy covers a lot of ground in this book to include Nabatean sites not within Petra proper as well. The book provides information on the rise of the Nabatean peoples and the subsequent rise of their cities and villages (Petra, of course being the focus). Their religion is analyzed, their agricultural practices looked at in detail, and more. This book even looks at neighboring cultures and provides compare-and-contrast analyses so that the reader can see Nabatean lifestyle in context of the region in which they lived.
Levy definitely did his homework before writing this book, and even looks at facts such as how much weight a camel can carry, and then deducing from this the total amount (cost-wise) of goods traders' caravan could carry across southwest Asia at the time (about a million dinars). This kind of attention to detail is most appreciated, and you will find it to be intriguing reading!!
The only disappointment, albeit a minor one, was that the conclusion left much to be desired. Levy writes 220 pages of insightful, thoughtful information then concludes with a single paragraph. I feel he could have wrapped it up a bit better than that, but even still, it doesn't detract from the wealth of information his book provides nevertheless.
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read, but.... 7 Sep 2014
By whatever - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Overall, I have been enjoying reading this book. It is the third one I have read on the Nabateans and does the best job of pulling together the limited info on this people. The downside of this book is that it is not as not so well organized, jumps across time periods haphazardly, repeats certain facts over and over and over again, and makes some rather highly speculative statements (tho Mr. Levy let's you know he'll do this on the first page.) I suspect this is not a peer-reviewed book; a quick search suggests that Mr. Levy is an amateur historian. I do like the image he paints of the Nabatean culture as it changed across the centuries, and his comparison with the Judeans of the same period was really well done. This is not a book that I would cite in a paper without first doing some fact checking. Nonetheless, if you read history/archaeology for fun, and really want to learn more about the Nabateans and Petra, yeh, it's worth getting as long as the price is right
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lack of pictures... 10 Nov 2010
By T2 - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Bought this book to show picts for my children before visiting this ancient city. There are not too many pictures in this book, there seems to be a lack of illustrated books of this city.
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