The importance of ‘Aroer in the Iron Age derives from its strategic location on the trade route that ran from South Arabia through Edom, the ‘Arava, the Beersheba Valley, the western Negev, and on to the coast. On the one hand ‘Aroer was a desert town, probably accommodating desert natives adapting to conditions of aridity and distance from centers of population. But ‘Aroer was also a center of commerce and administration and, as such, represents an island of social complexity and multi-culturalism.
‘Aroer was destroyed in the early 6th century BCE and only resettled in the Hellenistic period (Stratum Ia), probably as part of the Idumean or Nabatean mercantile system. This settlement became more substantial in the early Roman period, when a fort was constructed and a small village grew up around it (Stratum Ib), probably at the instigation of one of the Judean kings (Herod Agrippa I?). After the site’s destruction in the Great Revolt in 68 CE the settlement was rehabilitated somewhat, lasting until its final destruction and abandonment in 135 CE at the end of the Bar Kochba revolt.
Outstanding finds of these later periods are Jewish stone vessels, decorated Nabatean pottery, glass vessels, Aramean and Greek inscriptions, a copper bell and a number of coins.