Mamshit (Kurnub)

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Mamshit (Kurnub)

Just north of The Large Crater in the Negeb, 3 miles southeast  of  Dimona, are ruins of ancient Mamshit, a Nabatean commercial center which appears in the 6th century Madaba Map under the name of Mampsis. The spot called Kurnub by the Arabs, was where the ancient roads from Jerusalem and from Gaza converged en route to Elath.

The Nabateans, an Aramaic-speaking people of Arabian stock who practiced a form of Greek paganism, founded Mamshit in the Hellenistic era. Later, in the Roman Period, a bathhouse and ramparts were added. In the Byzantine age, two churches were built which to this day are the most beautiful buildings on the site. Most of the ruins in the 10 acre site date from the late Nabatean Period, when Romans and Byzantine Christians occupied the city. It was destroyed during the Arab conquest in the 7th century. A police fort was built here during the British Mandate Period.

Excavations have uncovered remains of the city wall, its towers and gates, palaces, houses, a tower fortress, water reservoir and a bathhouse, remains of the two Byzantine churches with mosaic floors, hoards of coins, jewelry, utensils and other objects. Outside the city walls a caravanserai and Nabatean tombs were found.

In the adjacent stream bed an almost complete network of dams for containing flood waters has been preserved from the Byzantine Period.

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