Legio III Cyrenaica
Legio tertia Cyrenaica (Third Cyrenean legion) was a Roman legion probably levied by Mark Antony around 36 BC, when he was governor of Cyrenaica. There are still records of the legion in Syria in the beginning of the 5th century. The legion symbol is unknown.
Legion III Cyrenaica is one of the longest living Roman legions in Roman history. The origin of the title/name Cyrenaica is not known - It may have been given to the Legion to signify its origin in Cyrene (now Libya), or to signify a major victory or for notable action in that province.
It was primarily stationed in Alexandria, Egypt, sharing a 'double-fortress' with Leg. XXII Deiotariana, where it stayed for about one hundred years before re-locating to Bostra, Syria.
The following is a list of campaigns and actions thought to have been seen by Legion III Cyrenaica during much of its existence:
- 35(?) BC - Leg. III is formed, likely by Marc Anthony or Lepidus in Cyrene. At this time, Legions still likely hold to the Republic tradition of being numbered in order of their creation, so this may have been the third Legion that [Anthony] had established and had under his direct command and loyalty.
- 31 BC - (Battle of Actium) - Either before or after Anthony and Cleopatra are defeated by Octavian (later Augustus), it is thought soldiers of Leg. III Cyrenaica defect from Anthony and claim allegiance to Octavian - who spares the Legion from being disbanded.
- 26 - 25 BC - Action in Arabia Felix (Yemen), commanded by Aelius Gallus, Prefect of Egypt.
- 23 BC - Action against Nubian invaders, Elements of III likely stationed in Thebes.
- 23(?) BC(AD?) - Roman military presence in Egypt is reduced to 2 Legions: III Cyrenaica and XXII Deiotariana. Which other Legions, or how many there were, is not known.
- AD 7 - 11 - Suggested time period that the Double-fortress at Nikopolis is established.
- AD 11 - Elements of Leg III under command of Publius Juventius Rufus, stationed in Berenike.
- AD 39 / 40 - A detachment (Vexillation) of Leg III was sent up to the northern coast of Gaul (France) to assist Emperor Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus' (Caligula) Legions with his rather unimpressive invasion of Britain. III was apparently used as a logistics and supplies organizer for the invasion / landing force.
- AD 58 - 63 - Under the command of Gn. Domitius Corbulo, elements of III saw action in the Parthian (Iran, parts of Iraq, Turkey, Armenia) frontier.
- AD 66 - 70 - Called The Jewish War or The Great Revolt. An uprising of Jews vs. Romans starts in Alexandria, and spreads to Judea. Elements of III and XXII fought their way to Jerusalem, and with the assistance of several other Legion, Auxiliary and allied forces (around 60,000 troops) surrounded and besieged the city, led by Titus Flavius Vespasianus (Vespasian), Proconsul of Africa.
- AD 69 - "The Year of the Four Emperors". Factions led by Galba, Otho, and then Vitellius all tried to seize control of Rome after the death of Nero. These factions, who had no aristocratic claim to the throne, (and hardly any support of the Legions nor the Senate) all tried to take control one after another by force.
- July 1 - With support of Gaius Licinus Mucianus, Governor of Syria and Tiberius Alexander, Prefect of Egypt, Vespasian is urged to revolt and take the throne. The Legions in Alexandria, two days later those of Judea, and then in August those of Syria and the Danube region declare Vespasian Emperor. Vespasian sends Mucianus to march on Rome with 20,000 troops while Vespasian heads to Alexandria to control the grain supply and starve Rome into submission.
- Dec. 22nd Vespasian is sworn in as Emperor while still in Egypt.
- AD 70 - A Vexillation of Leg III, along with X Fretensis, completes the siege of Jerusalem under the command of Vespasian's son, Titus.
- AD 84 - 88 - It is believed a detachment of Leg III is sent to help repair a footbridge along the Danube River, with Legions VII Claudia, IV Flavia, and either I or II Adiutrix. A stone engraving commemorating the bridge mentions "The Legion from Egypt". III appears to have been sent out abroad more often than XXII, so it is possible this is referring to III.
- AD 90 - Soldiers of III construct a bridge in Koptos (likely to improve or support roads to ports in Berenike and Quseir).
- AD 107 - 109 - Previously suggested date when Leg III departs Egypt - May instead be elements of III on expeditionary missions into Syria.
- AD 116 - Elements of III (or XXII?) are sent back to Judea to suppress another revolt. (AD 115 - 117 is also known as the Kitos War)
- AD 120 or 127 - III makes its departure from Egypt, being relocated to Bosra (aka Bostra, Syria / Jordan), where the capital was renamed from Petra to Nova Trajana Basra honoring Emperor Trajan. While in Bosra, Leg III constructs city gates, bridges and a massive amphitheater, which still exists today and is a popular tourist attraction. Meanwhile Legion II Trajana Fortis replaces III in Egypt.
- AD 132 - 136 - Yet another Jewish war, the Bar Kokhba revolt. It is thought elements of III and XXII are sent to Judea. Legion XXII may have been destroyed during this war, or perhaps the earlier Kitos War.
- AD 193 - Leg III supported Lucius Pescennius Niger in his failed attempt to take the throne after Emperor Commodus during yet another Roman Civil War.
- AD 162 - 166 - Elements of III again in Parthia, under command of Lucius Verus.
- AD 262 - 267 - It is possible that elements of III were involved with fighting Queen Zenobia in Palmyra (Syria).
- AD 420's or 430's - III is listed in the Notitia Dignitatum - a record of Roman military units and their stations. Legion III is listed as Praefectus legionis tertiae Cyrenaicae, Bostra.
- AD 630 (?) III Cyrenaica is likely destroyed fighting the Muslim invasions in Bostra.
(Information researched and compiled by group members of Leg. III Cyrenaica, a Roman Legion Reenacting/Living History group, see link below)
- Richard Alston - "Soldier and Society in Roman Egypt: A social history", Routledge Press 1995.
- Emil Ritterling - "Legio" article published in Realencyclopädie of Klassischen Altertumswissenschaft in 1925 
- H. A. Sanders - JSTOR article written 1941)
- John Paul Adams -  (California State University, Northridge)
- Adrian Goldsworthy - "The Complete Roman Army", Thames & Hudson 2003.
- Jona Lendering - Livius.org
- Peter Connolly - "Greece and Rome at War", Greenhill Books 1981, 1998.
- Phil Barker - "The Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome", Wargames Research Group Publications 1981.
- Bishop & Coulston - "Roman Military Equipment", Oxbow Books 1993.
- De Imperatoribus Romanis (On the Roman Emperors) 
- Simkins / Embelton - The Roman Army from Caesar to Trajan (Men at Arms #46)
- Cowan / McBride - Roman Legionary: 58 BC - AD 69 (Warrior #71)
- Sumner - Roman Military Clothing 1,2,3 (Men at Arms #374, 390, 425)
- Campbell / Hook - Siege Warfare in the Roman World (Elite #126)
- Cowan / Hook - Roman Battle Tactics: 109 BC - AD 313 (Elite #155)
- Gilliver / Goldsworthy / Whitby - Rome At War: Caesar and his Legacy (Essential Histories)
- Emil Ritterling, Legio, Realencyclopädie of Klassischen Altertumswissenschaft, 1925, Columns 1506-1514
- H. A. Sanders, The Origin of the Third Cyrenaic Legion, The American Journal of Philology, Vol. 62, No. 1 (1941), pp. 84–87.
- Johannes Kramer, Die Wiener Liste von Soldaten der III. und XXII. Legion (P. Vindob. L 2), ZPE 97 (1993), pp. 147–158
- G. W. Bowersock, A Report on Arabia Provincia, The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 61, (1971), pp. 219–242
- Karl Strobel, Zu Fragen der frühen Geschichte der römischen Provinz Arabia und zu einigen Problemen der Legionsdislokation im Osten des Imperium Romanum zu Beginn des 2. Jh.N.Chr. Zu Fragen der frühen Geschichte der römischen Provinz Arabia und zu einigen Problemen der Legionsdislokation im Osten des Imperium Romanum zu Beginn des 2. Jh.N.Chr, ZPE 71, (1988), pp. 251–280
- John Peter Oleson, M. Barbara Reeves, Barbara J. Fisher, New Dedicatory Inscriptions from Humayma (Ancient Hawara), Jordan, ZPE 140 (2002), pp. 103–121
- P.-L. Gatier, La Legio III Cyrenaica et l'Arabie, in dans Les légions de Rome sous le Haut-Empire, I, Lyon, 2000, p. 341-344
- A. Kindler, The Coinage of Bostra (Warminster 1983) 87-95.
- D. Kennedy originally, Legio VI Ferrata: The Annexation and Early Garrison of Arabia, HSCP 84 (1980) 282-309