The earliest known reference to the Nabateans as a group of people dates back to 647 BC. They were mentioned among the enemies of the last great Assyrian king Ashurbanipa. The Nabateans were known as exceptionally skilled people, facilitating commerce between China, India, the Far East, Egypt, Syria, Greece and Rome. They traded such goods as incense, medicines and perfumes. In Genesis (25:13-16) they are described as a group of nomadic Bedouin group, under the leadership of the Khedar tribe, of the tribes of Ismael (Ishmael).
Much of what is now known about the Nabatean culture comes from the writings of the Roman scholar Strabo. Strabo was a historian, geographer and philosopher, most famous for his 17-volume work Geographica, which presented a descriptive history of people and places of the world known to his era. He recorded that the Nabatean community was governed by a Royal family, but that a strong spirit of democracy also prevailed. According to Strabo, there were no slaves in Nabatean society, and all members shared work duties. The Nabatean contracts with traders were written in Aramaic.
The Nabateans built their spectacular city known today as Petra in the fourth century B.C. It was during a time when mystery religions were dominant and flourishing all over the Arabian Desert and the Mediterranean.
The city of Petra was annexed by the Romans in AD 106 and ultimately declined with the fall of the Roman Empire. At some point, probably during the fourth century C.E, the Nabateans left their capital at Petra. No one really knows why. It seems that the withdrawal was an unhurried and organized process, as very few silver coins or valuable objects have been unearthed at Petra.
By the seventh century, Petra was abandoned altogether. In the twelfth century, the Knights Templars, briefly occupied the ruined city of Petra and they were constantly searching for the Lost Ark and the Holy Grail.
Nabatean Mystery Religion
An element of this early mystery religion makes its first appearance in Genesis (14:18) during the time of Abraham, with the mysterious Wine and Bread rites. Genesis tells that Melchizedek presented Abraham with bread and wine - a ritual that seems to be the focal point in the Nabatean religious ceremonies.
As such, the ritual of communion was of particular significance to the Nabateans to be adminstrating to the other tribes because of their Neutral status. They are not Pure Ismailies nor Edomities, nor Midinites nor Israilies, but a mix of the larger tribal alliance of the Abrahamic confederation of tribes). It should be noted that the Midianites were also related to Abraham through Keturah, Abrahams last wife.
The Nabateans probably regarded themselves as a Neutral or the Lord Host tribes, with authority to carry on the Abrahamic-Melchizedek mystery rites of divin intoxication.
It is evident that the Nabateans were part of the Abrahamic tradition in which Melchizedek (Al Khader) was a prominent figure.