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Mamshit in Wikipedia
Mamshit (Hebrew: ממשית) is the Nabataean city of Memphis. In the Nabataean period, Mamshit was an
important station on Incense Road, running from the Idumean Mountains, through the Arabah and Ma'ale
Akrabim, and on to Beer-Sheva or to Hebron and Jerusalem. The city covers 10 acres (40,000 m2) and
is the smallest but best restored city in the Negev Desert. The once-luxurious houses feature
unusual architecture not found in any other Nabataean city.
The reconstructed city gives the visitor a sense of how Mamshit once looked. Entire streets have
survived intact, and there are also large groups of Nabataean buildings with open rooms, courtyards,
and terraces. The stones are carefully chiseled and the arches that support the ceiling are
remarkably well constructed.
Mamshit was built in 1st century BC as trade post on the way from Petra to Gaza. with time the city
was developed and based also on agriculture. When trade in Mamshit waned with the Roman occupation,
the occupants found another way to make a living: raising horses. The residents of Mamshit bred the
renowned Arabian horse, which brought great wealth to their city. During the Byzantine period
Mamshit also received support from the authorities for being a frontier city. When this funding
dried up, at the time of Justinian, the city died a natural death. Before the founding of the State
of Israel, Prime Minister to-be David Ben-Gurion saw Mamshit as the capital of the future country,
which dovetailed with his dream of settling the Negev Desert.
Two churches were discovered in Mamshit. The western Nile Church has a mosaic floor with colorful
geometric patterns, birds, a fruit basket, and five dedications in Greek (the mosaic is not open to
the public). The eastern church has a lectern on small marble pillars, the remnants of which can be
seen at the site.
The biggest hoard ever found in Israel was uncovered in Mamshit - 10500 silver coins, 158 pounds of
plumbum tonque with foundry signs and a papyrus cluster with ancient Greek texts.
Mamshit was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO on June 2005.
Mamshit Travel Info
Mamshit is a jewel in the crown of Christianitys earliest
days, its desert home on an ancient trading route is a
reminder of how Christianity took its message to the world.
Mamshit, in the central Negev, was first settled by the
nomadic Nabateans, a stop on the 1,400-mile long Incense
Route over which they brought frankincense and myrrh out of
Arabia to the Mediterranean. In the fourth century, the
Nabateans converted to Christianity, as the crosses some
residents carved into the lintels of their homes still
attest. Two large and impressive churches, among the most
ancient in the world, adorned with mosaic floors, also
celebrate the firs presence of Christians here. (Israel
Minister of Tourism)
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