Eastern Mediterranean 115: Kitos War
After annexing Armenia, Trajan invaded the Parthian client kingdoms in Upper Mesopotamia in 115. However, while the emperor was focused on Parthia, Jews across the empire seized the opportunity to revolt against Roman rule, mounting uprisings in Cyrenaica, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cyprus.
Jan 114–?? 115 Rome–Osroene alliance▲
When, in January 114, the Roman emperor Trajan arrived in Antioch, Syria, to begin his war in Armenia, Abgar VII of Osroene sent him gifts and a message of friendship, but otherwise maintained his neutrality for fear of angering Parthia. More envoys with gifts followed and, when Trajan marched against Parthia in 115, Abgar submitted to the emperor in person and apologized to him for his hesitance. Partly due to the intercession of Abgar’s handsome son Arbandes, Trajan accepted Abgar as a friend and Osroene became a client kingdom of Rome.
May–?? 114 Trajan’s Conquest of Armenia▲
Advancing from Antioch in Syria, the Roman emperor Trajan assembled a force of 80,000 troops at Satala on the Armenian border in May 114. Rejecting efforts by the Parthian client king Parthamasiris of Armenia to surrender, Trajan invaded Armenia in four columns, sending his legions as far as the Caucasus mountains and the Caspian Sea. Having established control over the whole kingdom, Trajan annexed Armenia to the Roman Empire as an imperial province. In honor of this achievement, Trajan was given the title of Optimus (“Most Excellent”) by the Senate.
115–116 Trajan’s Upper Mesopotamia campaign▲
In the spring of 115 the Roman emperor Trajan crossed the Taurus mountains, dividing his army for a two-pronged attack into the Parthian client kingdoms of Upper Mesopotamia. One force, led by Trajan himself, entered Osroene—which quickly confirmed its alliance with him—before moving on to capture the cities of Araba. The second force invaded Adiabene, completing its conquest in 116 when both forces combined to capture Arbela.
?? 115–Aug 117 Lukuas’ rebellion▲
In June/July 115 the Jews of Cyrene revolted against Roman rule, beginning what would become known as the Kitos War. Under the leadership of Lukuas (also known as Andreas) they seized control in the region and marched on Alexandria in neighboring Egypt, destroying many buildings and (in 116) conquering much of the countryside. In fear and retaliation for Jewish brutality—according to Cassius Dio, 220 thousand Greeks and Romans died—Alexandria massacred most of its Jewish population. The revolt was eventually suppressed by Trajan’s appointee Quintus Marcius Turbo in August 117, forcing Lukuas to flee to Judea.
115 Outbreak of Kitos War▲
In 115 Jews across the eastern regions of the Roman Empire apparently took advantage of Trajan’s preoccupation with his war against Parthia to launch revolts against Roman rule. The revolts began in June/July with simultaneous rebellions among the Jews of Cyrene and Mesopotamia, but soon spread to Jewish communities in Egypt, Judea, and Cyprus. This uprising would become known as the “Kitos War”, after the Roman general Lusius Quietus (“Kitos” being a later corruption of “Quietus”) who eventually suppressed it.
115–117 Kitos War in Mesopotamia▲
While the Kitos War was breaking out in Cyrenaica, a simultaneous Jewish revolt erupted in Roman-occupied Mesopotamia. Armed rebels surrounded and massacred Roman garrisons left behind by Trajan, eventually gaining control in Nisibis and a number of other cities. Trajan tasked the Moorish prince and Roman general Lusius Quietus with suppressing this revolt, a mission he accomplished with thoroughness and brutality by the summer of 117.
115–117? Artemion’s rebellion▲
In 115, inspired by Jewish uprisings across the eastern Roman Empire (the Kitos War), Artemion led a revolt of the Jews in Cyprus, attacking the Greek and Roman population. The rebels razed the provincial capital of Salamis and, according to Cassius Dio, were responsible for 240 thousand deaths. Eventually the uprising was crushed, after which Cyprus passed laws banning Jews from the island, including even victims of shipwreck.
?? 115–Aug 117 Lulianos and Paphos▲
Following the success of the Kitos War in Egypt, two Jews, Lulianos and Paphos, led their own revolt in Roman Judea. In 115 they captured the city of Lydda and made it their capital; they were joined here by the Cyrenaican Jewish rebel Lukuas in 117 after he fled Africa. The last holdout in the Kitos War, Lydda fell to its Roman besiegers—led by Lusius Quietus and Quintus Marcius Turbo—in late August 117.