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The Spice Route

The Spice Route

The Spice Routes is considered one of the most important routes of the ancient world. Throughout the regions of this ancient trade road there are several routes that are thousands of miles long, crossing many countries, along which desert caravans with hundreds of camels transported precious cargoes of the ancient world – myrrh and frankincense, and various spices.

The goods, as valuable as gold, were transported under harsh climatic conditions, from the growth regions of East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula (Dofar in Oman, Hadhramaut in Yemen and North Somalia), through Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel to the Gaza Port and from there to Europe. Some of the incenses and spices were transported east from the Arabian Peninsula, on their way to India and China.

The Incense Route's main period of prosperity began in the third century BC and ended in the third century AD. Trade along the route resulted in the flourishing of the Nabatean people, who were traders. In order to protect the camel caravans that traveled the route from thieves and robbers, overnight stations were built, hidden water holes were dug and fortresses erected for protection.

Over the years, as they grew richer and more powerful, the Nabateans, who were a Nomadic nation, settled down and built cities. The area, the conditions and the circumstances of the ancient era created the concentrations of strongholds and settlement, as can be seen from the archeological remains in the area.

In Israel the Incense and Spice Routes areas cover some 7,300 square kilometers, most of which traverse the Negev desert – from the Arava region in the east, through the Negev Mountains in the center and until the Western Negev. The area includes around 50 settlements, most of which are small agricultural settlements.

There are several ancient Nabatean cities and fortresses in this region, situated along the Incense Route. The eastern portion of the Incense Route in Israel was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.

Already during ancient times the climatic conditions of the Negev Mountains were conducive to agriculture that made use of the existing water sources. Nowadays these regions are covered with many agricultural fields that take advantage of the unique desert climate and create flourishing desert crops.

Small businesses dealing in agricultural tourism have developed along the Incense and Spice Routes, which is mainly touristy usage of the crops, the agricultural industry such as oil presses, dairies and wineries and traditional crafts such as spinning, weaving and wool (Agro-tourism, Agro-food and Handicrafts).

In the Bedouin settlements spread throughout the Negev region there are currently several tourist projects that are considered as unique Bedouin Heritage tourist sites by the Bedouin settlements' Women's Society: Desert Embroidery, Desert Weaving, Daughter of the Desert , the Sheikh's Palace, and more.

The businesses of the "Wine Route" (individual settlers) along Highway 40 are part of an agricultural settlement project to create human presence along the route. The individual farms offer visitors exposure to ancient agriculture and to local desert wines that existed in the Nabatean culture in its later stages.

Visitors to the Incense and Spice Routes can choose a single subject tour (such as agriculture) or combine tours on several subjects (such as archeological-historical-agricultural-panoramic).


Route Tours: