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Qasr al-Bint Cult Room

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Qasr al-Bint Cult Room
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Photo Comments

View looking south at the most sacred space of the Qasr al-Bint—the cult room or cella.  This room may have been vaulted—notice at the top of the image the arch that is embedded into the back wall.

In the lower portion of the image, notice the flat horizontal floor line.  This floor—a podium—is 4.5 above from where this picture was taken.  Upon this, a stone that did not bear a representation of a deity would have stood that was considered as mediating the presence of the god (Dushara?).  A stone of this type is called a betyl—a word that is derived from the Semitic bait-el (- "house of god," compare biblical Bethel).

In the lower left, by the small green caper bush, are two stairs.  These are remnants of the staircase that led up to the podium.  In the lower right of the image, there are remnants of a similar staircase.

This whole room would have been plastered and possibly painted and/or had carved stucco decorations.

Qasr al-Bint (the "Palace of Pharaoh's Daughter") is located in the Petra basin at the west end of the Colonnaded Street on the south side of the Wadi Musa.  It faces north.  It was constructed during the reign of Aretas IV (r. 9 B.C.-A.D. 40; 2 Corinthians 11:32) and refurbished after Trajan annexed Nabataea into a Roman Province in A.D. 106.

It is debated what deity was worshiped there.  The majority say that it was Dushara — the chief deity of the Nabataean pantheon because the large altar to the north of Qasr al-Bint was dedicated to him. Al-'Uzza (Aphrodite) may have been worshipped there as well.