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The Deir, or monastery, was probably built by the Nabatean ruler Malichus (40–70 A.D.) or possibly by King Rebal II in the early 2nd century A.D. Because of its two side benches in the interior (and altar), it was originally used for the meetings of religious associations.
In the Byzantine Period it served as a Christian Church—thus the name "Deir" (Arabic for monastery).