Lost City of Arabia Revealed

Archeological research by University of Miami professor featured in popular TV series Unearthed

This summer University of Miami Professor David Graf directed an experienced international team of researchers in excavating the agricultural mysteries of a site near Petra, Jordan known as Ba’aja.

Ba’aja is located about six miles north of Petra, which is the capital of the Nabataean Kingdom. Nabataea was a Roman client-kingdom in Arabia located on the eastern boundary of the Roman Empire.

At Ba’aja, Graf and his team uncovered several small ancient Nabataean settlements, agricultural storage areas, Aramaic inscriptions, cultic shrines, and approximately 24 wine presses, which led the team to believe that the villagers living outside of Petra were, surprisingly, vineyard farmers during the early Roman era.

“Together, we are changing the rural landscape of the Nabataeans, who for far too long have been depicted as milk-drinking nomads in the Roman era, but we hope in the future will be recognized as wine-drinking farmers,” said Graf.

Graf and his team were not the only occupants interested in the site. While on location, a television production crew representing the Science Channel’s popular television show, “Unearthed,” filmed and interviewed Graf and his team for two days and featured the excavation and the city of Petra for the episode, “Lost City of the Desert,” which aired on August 15, 2017.

"The recently released episode of the TV program 'Unearthed' on the majesty and mysteries of Petra, Jordan covered much of the intriguing history of this fabled ancient desert sandstone city and featured extensive interviews with archaeologists working there," said La Sierra University's Center for Near Eastern Archaeology Director Doug Clark. "I found all my Jordanian archaeology colleagues and their comments the best part of the program: articulate, informative, measured, clear, pertinent, and professional."

Each hour-long episode of “Unearthed” combines scientific investigation with detailed computer-generated imagery to interpret mysteries of ancient civilizations and structures revealing how these sites were used and constructed.

“Professor Graf’s appearance on ‘Unearthed’ highlights his international reputation as one of the preeminent scholars of Petra and the Nabataeans,” said David Kling, professor and chair of the Religious Studies Department.

Since 1978,Graf has engaged in a number of archeological projects and excavations to uncover an understanding of the Nabataean kingdom, including its languages, army, trade, ethnicity, and relations with Rome.

University of Miami Professor David Graf excavated in Petra, Jordan and was featured in the TV show "Unearthed" on the Science Channel.
Dr. Graf (center) with international excavation team in Petra, Jordan.

August 18, 2017