Prof. David Graf

“In Pursuit of Nabataea: Reassessing the Arabian Kingdom”

National Endowment for the Humanities Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, 2021–2022

University of Miami; Miami, FL (U.S.A.)
Religious Studies

Prof. David Graf received his PhD in ancient history from the University of Michigan and began his archaeological career in Jordan in 1978.  He has excavated also in Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. Among the projects he has directed are the Via Nova Traiana Project, between Petra and Aqaba (1985­­–1995), the Hellenistic Petra Project (2004–2017), and the joint Saudi-American Jurash Project at Khamis Mushayt in the Asir Mountains, near Yemen (2008–2009). He has been a Fulbright Scholar in Saudi Arabia (2003), a recipient of a Provost’s Award for Scholarly Activity at the University of Miami (2008), and an NEH fellow in Jordan at ACOR (2014), and he is a member of the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton. He is the author of Rome and Its Arabian Frontier from the Nabataeans to the Saracens (Variorum, 1997; Routledge, 2020) and more than 150 scholarly articles. Among his most recent publications are “The Silk Road between Syria and China,” in Trade, Commerce, and the State in the Roman World as part of the Oxford Roman Economy Project, “Nabataeans” for The Oxford Handbook  of Literatures of the Roman Empire (2020), and “Nabataeans” for Blackwell’s Companion to the Hellenistic and Roman Near East (2021).

This proposal for an NEH Fellowship concerns producing a much-needed English monograph on Nabataea, an Arabian kingdom centered at Petra in modern southern Jordan, on the eastern periphery of the Roman Empire. In recent years, new evidence about Nabataea has been rapidly emerging from archaeological and epigraphical research. An up-to-date comprehensive historical narrative in English remains lacking and is a desideratum. Many of the necessary topics Prof. Graf has already discussed in earlier articles, and thus they need only to be revised into chapters. His NEH fellowship at ACOR will facilitate completion of the remaining chapters by providing excellent library resources, contact with relevant local scholars, and proximity to major Nabataean sites. The proposed monograph has already elicited the interest of Cambridge University Press because it will fill a lacuna and draw the interest of the scholarly community.


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