Sha'ar Ramon Fig 8

Aerial view of the Nabataean caravanserai of Sha'ar Ramon located on the eastern edge of the Ramon Crater. (Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.)

Erickson-Gini and Israel (2013)

Transliterated Name Source Name
Shdar Ramon
Sha'ar Ramon
Mesad Sha'ar Ramon
Qasr el-Mahalle
'En Saharonim

Sha'ar Ramon contains the remains of a Nabataean caravanserai built in the Early Roman period which was occupied until some time in the 3rd century CE. The site was then reoccupied at the end of the 3rd century CE as part of a Roman military buildup in the region.

Maps and Plans
Maps and Plans

  • Fig. 1 - Major Roman trade routes in the vicinity of Moje Awad from Bar-Oz et al (2022)
  • Fig. 8 - Aerial view of Sha’ar-Ramon from Bar-Oz et al (2022)
  • Plan of the Nabataean caravanserai of Sha'ar Ramon from Erickson-Gini and Israel (2013)


Cohen (1982:244) identified two building phases in most of the rooms at Sha'ar Ramon with the earlier phase containing artifacts of the 1st century CE: painted Nabataean bowls, jugs, juglets, and oil lamps and Nabataean coins from the reigns of Aretas IV [9 BCE - 40 CE] and Rabel II [70-106 CE]. Erickson-Gini and Israel (2013:39-41) estimate that during this initial phase, the caravanserai at Sha'ar Ramon was constructed in the Early Roman period. Cohen (1982:244) identified a 2nd phase which contained ceramic remains from the 2nd-3rd centuries CE including bowls, jugs, jars, and oil lamps as well as coins from the Roman Emperors Antonius Pius [138-161 CE], Commodius [176-192 CE], and Caracalla [198-217 CE]. Erickson-Gini and Israel (2013:39-41) report an additional later phase when the site was re-occupied at the end of the 3rd century CE during the reign of Diocletian [284-305 CE].

Like other sites along the Incense Road, Sha'ar Ramon was abandoned sometime after 222 CE and assemblages of whole Nabataean fine ware vessels of the post-annexation period were discovered in some of the rooms. Unlike the sites at Moyat Awad and Nahal Neqarot, which were never again occupied after the third century CE, some of the rooms in the Sha'ar Ramon caravanserai were reoccupied towards the end of the third century CE.
The reoccupation of part of the structure in this period coincides with the construction of Diocletian's army camp in nearby Oboda as well as the construction of the military bathhouse, and two towers that guarded the town (Erickson-Gini 2002; 2010: 17-19, 88-91).

Early 2nd century CE earthquake

Erickson-Gini and Israel (2013:41-42) report that evidence was found for an early 2nd century CE earthquake at Sha'ar Ramon perhaps based on rebuilding evidence as they state that there is ample evidence of the immediate reconstruction of buildings at Moyat Awad, Sha'ar Ramon, and Horvat Dafit.

Notes and Further Reading