Shivta, located in the western Negev not far from the Egyptian border at Nitsana, differs from the other Nabatean cities in the Negev in that it is not located on a main commercial route. It was also unwalled, and thus may be regarded as a large farming village.
Roman ruins, dating to the period of Shivta’s founding in the first century BCE, can be seen in the southern part of the town. Most of the remains, however, date from the Byzantine period (fourth-seventh centuries BCE). With no natural water sources, Shivta’s water supply was based on surface runoff. This required meticulous urban planning, building the streets in the northern part of the city so that they drained into large reservoirs.
A main attraction in the park is the Colt
house, used by the archeologists led by H. Colt (son of the famous American gun manufacturer), who dug at Shivta from 1933 to 1934. Over the entrance is an inscription in ancient Greek that translates: “With good luck. Colt built (this house) with his own money.” Another highlight is the city's main church, smaller churches and monks' cells. In the double pool archeologists found potsherd ‘notes’ mentioning the residents who had fulfilled their civic duty to clean the pool.
How to get there:
From the Tlalim junction on the Be'er Sheva-Shizafon road (no. 40) continue on road 211 about 15 km east. Turn south at the junction near the gas station and drive about 10 minutes.
Length of tour: 1 hour
Best season: year-round
Don't miss: architecture that has survived for thousands of years.