Richard Cleave

Dwarfed by the desert’s immensity, the acropolis at Nessana stands atop a narrow ridge. Located in the western Negev, Nessana, along with Oboda and Elusa, were key caravan centers in the Nabatean trade network during the Middle Nabatean Period. The caravan routes through Nessana provided access to the Sinai and to the harbors in the southeastern Mediterranean.

Nessana’s acropolis includes a rectangular Late Roman-Byzantine citadel on the near side. The prominent building at the center of the open area of the citadel was a hospice erected by the Turks before World War I. Behind the hospice lie the ruins of an early Byzantine church, built upon the remains of a Nabatean building, which may have been a temple. A long stairway to the right of the hill leads down to the wadi and to the lower town, upper right.