Roman Military Camps Discovered in Arabia
Archaeologists have identified three undiscovered Roman fortified camps across northern Arabia.
The University of Oxford School of Archaeology made the discovery in a remote sensing survey, using satellite imagery.
It said it could be evidence of an “undocumented military campaign” across southeast Jordan into Saudi Arabia.
Dr. Michael Fradley, who led the research, said: “We are almost certain they were built by the Roman army.”
In the report, published in the journal Antiquity, he explained his conclusion was based on the “typical playing card shape of the enclosures with opposing entrances along each side”.
Dr. Fradley added that the westernmost camp was significantly larger than the two camps to the east.
The research team believes they may have been part of a previously undiscovered Roman military campaign “linked to the Roman takeover of the Nabataean Kingdom in 106 AD, a civilization centered on the world-famous city of Petra, located in Jordan”.
The university’s Dr. Mike Bishop, an expert on the Roman military, said the camps were a “spectacular new find” and an important new insight into Roman campaigning in Arabia.
“Roman forts and fortresses show how Rome held a province but temporary camps reveal how they acquired it in the first place,” he explained.
Dr. Fradley added that the preservation of the camps was “remarkable”, particularly as they may have only been used for a matter of days or weeks.
Archaeologists still need to confirm the date of the camps through investigation on the ground, the researchers said.
The camps were identified by the university’s Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa project and were later photographed by the Aerial Archaeology in Jordan project.