BAR 28:02, Mar/Apr 2002
This ivory-headed doll wrapped in linen comes from a Byzantine-period (4th7th century A.D.) Christian settlement in Nessana, in the west-central Negev desert.
The Negev kingdom of Nabatea was annexed by the emperor Trajan in 106 A.D. to become the Roman Provincia Arabia. After around 400 A.D., the agricultural centers of the region enjoyed great prosperity and growth, partly due to the rise of Christian pilgrimage to sites such as St. Catherines Monastery in the Sinai. One of the Negevs prospering settlements, Nessana was located on the main route to Sinai and Egypt, and by the sixth century came to house a fortress and several churches. Artifacts discovered there include papyrus texts and textiles, well-preserved by the Negevs arid climate.