Thursday 15 June 2023

Roman Tour – the Nabataean

Researching military conflicts between Nabataea and Rome has proved sketchy. From the reign of Augustus to its annexation by Trajan, the Kingdom of Nabataea remained an autonomous client state.

During the reign of Aretas IV Philopatris, who ruled from 9BC to 40 AD, Rome was drawn into the conflict between Aretas and Herod Antipas. The campaign reached Jerusalem in 37 AD, but further military operations were curtailed following the death of Tiberius.  

Succeeding Aretas, Malichus II ruled the Nabataean kingdom until 70 AD and remained loyal to Rome, even sending cavalry and infantry during the Jewish Revolt.

Rabbel II Soter, would become the last ruler of the kingdom, one source suggests a military campaign in 106 AD by the governor of Syria, Cornelius Palma Frontonianus, brought about the annexation as part of the province of Arabia Petraea in 106 AD.

Game one

The Nabataean lengthened their line by positioning two mounted units in the line’s centre. Rome wisely placed its mounted as a second line in reserve.

Rome opened the battle assaulting the Nabataean left flank.

Casualties mounted rapidly among the Nabataean forcing their commander to rashly attack the Roman legion. The effort came too late to prevent the complete collapse of the Nabataean left wing. A retreat was called for. Rome 4 – 3. 

Game two

Both sides deploying similarly as before, but the second battle Rome launched an aggressive attack on the Nabataean centre, led by the legion and supported by the artillery.

Sweeping the opposition away, the situation in centre became critical for the Nabataean general.  

 The fall of the Nabataean banner brought a wave of panic to the Nabataean putting them to flight. Rome 4+g-2.


The Nabataean were clearly out-matched by Rome lacking sufficient number of troops to meet the legionnaires. Fighting other Arabo-Aramean, Arab marauders or the Parthian would offer a better opportunity for victory.

Early Imperial Roman

1 x General (Cv), 1 x equites (Cv), 4 x legionnaires (4Bd), 3 x auxilia infantry (4Ax), 1 x archers (4Bw or Ps), 1 x light horse (LH), 1 x artillery (Art).


1 x General (4Kn), 1 x horse archers (LH), 1 x swordsmen (4Bd), 2 x javelinmen (3Ax), 5 x archers (3Bw), 1 x archers (3Bw or Ps),  1 x caravan guards (Cm).

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