Occupants of territory E. and SW of the Dead Sea, who spoke a form of Aramaic. They were important in the inter‐testamental and NT periods. King Aretas IV (9 BCE–40 CE) gave his daughter in marriage to Herod Antipas, who later divorced her in order to marry Herodias, a union condemned by John the Baptist (Mark 6: 17–29). The ethnarch of Aretas intended to arrest Paul at Damascus (2 Cor. 11: 32).

Important excavations have taken place at Petra, one of the cities built by the Nabataeans, 71 km. (47 miles) from the Dead Sea, and chosen as their capital. Although an earthquake in the 4th cent. CE severely damaged the city, what remains shows evidence of high technical skills.