Photo by Jane Taylor/Sonia Halliday Photographs

Sprouting near the top of a mountain peak, el Deir (the Monastery) dates to the late first century A.D. The building’s overall design is similar to that of the Treasury, but it is much larger and less ornate. The building was thought to have been a monastery because of the Christian crosses that were painted and inscribed on its inner walls during the fourth and fifth centuries A.D. When it was first constructed, however, el Deir served as a banquet hall and meeting place for the cult of the deified Nabataean king Obodas I (c. 96–86 B.C.). A nearby inscription, uncovered by archaeologists in 1991, refers to the building as the site of “the symposium of Obodas the God.”