Coming soon to Religion Compass: ‘Piecing Together the Religion of the Nabataeans’ by Dr. Tali Erickson-Gini – PROVISIONAL ABSTRACT:
What we know about the religion of the Nabataeans, the builders of Petra, is largely gleaned from the material record rather than literary sources. The Nabataeans appear to have been successful in preserving the attributes of the beliefs of their desert forefathers and were also open to the beliefs and practices of non-Nabataeans.
The main focus of worship was their national god, Dushara, and their great goddess, al-Uzza, ‘the powerful’ or ‘the great’ generally recognized as Aphrodite / Venus. Their pantheon was limited in scope with respect for foreign deities and particularly the goddess Isis who may have become conflated with al-Uzza.
Although much of their beliefs and rituals are unknown there is ample evidence of religious processions and pilgrimages to high places and temples. Fountains providing water for worshippers and pools of water next to shrines and temples are common features in the landscape around Petra and other far-flung Nabataean sites.
The identities of the deities worshipped in the temples of Petra are not confirmed but the Temple of the Winged Lions appears to have been the shrine of a mystery cult, quite possibly that of Isis.