Malkûtâ Nabatu (Nabatean)
المملكة النبطية (Arabic)
|-||168–144 BCE||Aretas I|
|-||70/71–106 CE||Rabbel II Soter|
|-||Obodas I repels Hasmonean invasion|
|-||Conquered by the Roman Empire||106 CE|
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The Nabataean kingdom, also named Nabatea (many times spelled Nabatean), was a political state of the Nabataeans which existed during classical antiquity and was annexed by the Roman Empire in CE 106.
Located between the Sinai Peninsula and the Arabian Peninsula, its northern neighbour was the kingdom of Judea, and its south western neighbour was Ptolemaic Egypt. Its capital was the city of Petra in Jordan, and it included the towns of Bostra, Mada'in Saleh, and Nitzana.
Petra was a wealthy trading town, located at a convergence of several important trade routes. One of them was the Incense Route which was based around the production of both myrrh and frankincense in southern Arabia, and ran through Mada'in Saleh to Petra. From here the aromatics were distributed throughout the Mediterranean region.
Nabateans and Hasmoneans
The Nabataeans were allies of the first Hasmoneans in their struggles against the Seleucid monarchs. They then became rivals of the Judaean dynasty, and a chief element in the disorders which invited Pompey's intervention in Judea. Many Nabataeans were forcefully converted to Judaism by the Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus. It was this King who, after putting down a local rebellion, invaded and occupied the Nabataean towns of Moab and Gilead and imposed a tribute of an unspecified amount. Obodas I knew that Alexander would attack, so was able to ambush Alexander's forces near Gaulane (Golan) destroying the Judean army in 90 BCE. Under the reign of Aretas III (87 to 62 BCE) the kingdom seems to have reached its territorial zenith, but was defeated by a Roman army under the command of Marcus Aemilius Scaurus. Scaurus' army even besieged Petra, but eventually a compromise was negotiated. Paying a tribute, Aretas III received the formal recognition by the Roman Republic.
The Nabatean kingdom saw itself slowly surrounded by the expanding Roman Empire, which conquered Egypt and annexed Hasmonean Judea. While the Nabatean kingdom managed to preserve its formal independence, it became a client kingdom under the influence of Rome.
In 106 CE, during the reign of Roman emperor Trajan, the last king of the Nabatean kingdom Rabbel II Soter died. This event might have prompted the official annexation of Nabatea to the Roman Empire, although the formal reasons, and the exact manner of annexation, are unknown.
Some epigraphic evidence suggests a military campaign, commanded by Cornelius Palma, the governor of Syria. Roman forces seem to have come from Syria and also from Egypt. It is clear that by 107 CE Roman legions were stationed in the area around Petra and Bostra, as is shown by a papyrus found in Egypt. The kingdom was annexed by the empire, becoming the province of Arabia Petraea. Trade seems to have largely continued thanks to the Nabataens' undiminished talent for trading.
Under Hadrian, the limes Arabicus ignored most of the Nabatæan territory and ran northeast from Aila (modern Aqaba) at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba. A century later, during the reign of Alexander Severus, the local issue of coinage came to an end. There is no more building of sumptuous tombs, owing apparently to a sudden change in political ways, such as an invasion by the neo-Persian power under the Sassanid Empire.
- A map of the VIA NOVA TRAIANA showing the outposts that made up Hadrian's limes
- Teller, Matthew; Jordan; p.265; Rough Guides; Sept 2009; ISBN 978-1-84836-066-2
- Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities - Petra from the official website for The Hashemite Kingdom of Jortdan
- Gibson (2011), p. 132.
- See Diodorus Siculus 19.94; Rosen (2007); Graf (1990) and Gibson (2011), p. 133,
- Johnson, Paul (1987). A History of the Jews. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 978-0-297-79091-4.
- Josephus, Flavius (1981). The Jewish War 1:87. Trans. G. A. Williamson 1959. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-14-044420-9.
- Taylor, Jane; Petra; p.25-31; Aurum Press Ltd; London; 2005; ISBN 9957-451-04-9
- Gibson, Dan (2011). Qur’anic Geography: A Survey and Evaluation of the Geographical References in the Qur’an with Suggested Solutions for Various Problems and Issues. Independent Scholars Press, Canada. ISBN 978-0-9733642-8-6.