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Basic Information

Location 30° 52′ 48″ N, 34° 37′ 48″ E
Country Israel
City Negev

General Information

Open to visitors yes
Need appointment no
Handicap accessibility no
Geographical Coordinates 30.92144,34.56684


Shivta (Hebrew: שבטה‎), is an ancient city in the Negev Desert of Israel, east of Nitzana. Shivta was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in June 2005.

History and time period

Long considered a classic Nabataean town on the ancient spice route, archaeologists are now considering the possibility that Shivta was a Byzantine agricultural colony and a way station for pilgrims en route to the Saint Catherine Monastery in Sinai.

Roman ruins from the first century BCE have been unearthed in the southern part of the town, but most of the archaeological findings date to the Byzantine period. Shivta’s water supply was based on surface runoff collected in large reservoirs.

Three Byzantine churches (a main church and two smaller churches), 2 wine-presses, residential areas and administrative buildings have been excavated at Shivta. After the Arab conquest in the 7th century CE, the population and dwindled. It was finally abandoned in the 8th or 9th Century CE.

In 1933-1934, American archaeologist H. Colt (son of the gun manufacturer) conducted a dig at Shivta. The house he lived in bears an inscription in ancient Greek that reads: “With good luck. Colt built (this house) with his own money."


Incense Route - Desert Cities in the Negev (Haluza, Mamshit, Avdat and Shivta)

UNESCO World Heritage Site

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