Dushara, (Nabataean Arabic: 𐢅𐢈𐢝𐢛𐢀‎ dwšrʾ) also transliterated as Dusares, is a pre-Islamic Arabian god worshipped by the Nabataeans at Petra and Madain Saleh (of which city he was the patron).[citation needed] Safaitic inscriptions imply he was the son of Al-Lat, and that he assembled in the heavens with other gods. He is called "Dushara from Petra" in one inscription. Dushara was expected to bring justice if called by the correct ritual.[1]


Dushara is known first from epigraphic Nabataean sources who invariably spell the name dwsrʾ, the Nabataean script denoting only consonants. He appears in Classical Greek sources Δουσάρης (Dousárēs) and in Latin as Dusares. The original meaning is disputed, but early Muslim historian Hisham ibn al-Kalbi in his "Book of Idols" explains the name as Dhū l-Šarā (Arabic: ذو الشرى), "etymologically probably 'the one of the Shara (mountains north of Petra)'", referring to a mountain range southeast of the Dead Sea now known as al-Sharat.[2] If this interpretation is correct, Dushara would be more of a title than a proper name, but both the exact form of the name and its interpretation are disputed.[3][4]


In Greek times, he was associated with Zeus because he was the chief of the Nabataean pantheon as well as with Dionysus.

A shrine to Dushara has been discovered in the harbour of ancient Puteoli in Italy. The city was an important nexus for trade to the Near East, and it is known to have had a Nabataean presence during the mid 1st century BCE.[5] The cult continued in some capacity well into the Roman period and possibly as late as the Islamic period.[6]

This deity was mentioned by the 9th century CE Muslim historian Hisham Ibn Al-Kalbi, who wrote in the Book of Idols (Kitab al-Asnām) that: "The Banū al-Hārith ibn-Yashkur ibn-Mubashshir of the ʻAzd had an idol called Dū Sharā."

Safaitic inscriptions mention animal sacrifices to Dushara, asking for a variety of services.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Discussion: The Religion and Rituals of the Nomads of Pre-Islamic Arabia: A Reconstruction based on the Safaitic Inscriptions - Academia.edu". www.academia.edu. Retrieved 2021-03-14.
  2. ^ Suchard, Benjamin D. (13 June 2023). "What can Nabataean Aramaic tell us about Pre‐Islamic Arabic?". Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy. doi:10.1111/aae.12234. Dusares, etymologically probably 'the one of the Shara (mountains north of Petra)'
  3. ^ F., Healey, John (10 May 2001). The religion of the Nabataeans : a conspectus. Leiden. pp. 85–97. ISBN 9789004301481. OCLC 944920100.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link) CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Lewis, B. (1991). The Encyclopaedia of Islam. Vol. II: C–G (New ed.). Leiden: Brill. pp. 246–247. ISBN 9004070265. OCLC 399624.
  5. ^ AA.VV. Museo archeologico dei Campi Flegrei - Catalogo generale (vol. 2) - Pozzuoli, Electa Napoli 2008, pag. 60-63
  6. ^ Peterson, Stephanie Bowers, "The Cult of Dushara and the Roman Annexation of Nabataea" (2006). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 5352.