Northern Africa 110: Trajan’s Red Sea expansion
When Trajan assumed power in 98 AD, the Roman Empire entered its most expansionist phase since the reign of Augustus. Particularly interested in the East, Trajan secured Indian Ocean trade by annexing Nabataea, building a canal to link the Nile to the Red Sea, and, in the south of that sea, establishing a garrison on tropical Farasan island.
100? Sabaean Kingdom of Marib▲
By c.100 AD Maʼrib, the traditional center of the Sabaean Kingdom, had broken away from Ḥimyarite-ruled Saba’ under its own dynasty. This rival kingdom would retain its independence until reunited with a resurgent Saba’ a century later.
? ?? 105–11 Aug 106 Second Dacian War▲
In 105 the Dacians attacked Roman garrisons in Moesia, prompting Trajan to amass a huge army—and raise two new legions—for a conclusive war with Dacia. After constructing a great bridge—the longest arch bridge for more than 1,000 years—over the Danube, Trajan invaded Dacia in force, capturing the capital of Sarmizegetusa in 106. Vanquished, the Dacian king Decebalus committed suicide; his treasure hoard of 165 tons of gold and 300 tons of silver—a testimony to the mineral wealth of his kingdom—was discovered by the Romans soon after.
22 Mar 106 Arabia Petraea▲
In early 106 Rabel II Soter, the last ruler of the Nabataean Kingdom, died. Acting on Trajan’s orders, the Roman governor of Syria invaded the kingdom and, facing little apparent resistance, converted it into the Roman province of Arabia (later Arabia Petraea). At about the same time, the Decapolis was annexed and partitioned between Arabia and Judea.
109?–129 Parthian Civil War of 109–129▲
From around 109 Vologases III either co-ruled with Shah Pacorus II of Parthia or initiated a revolt against him in Ecbatana; either way he gained control in eastern Parthia when Osroes I succeeded Pacorus. Vologases remained at large during the Roman invasion of Parthia (114–117), eventually marching west to overthrow Osroes in 129.
110? Amnis Traianus▲
In the early 2nd century the Roman emperor Trajan ordered the construction of a canal linking the River Nile to the Red Sea, building the city of Clysma at the Red Sea end. Such a canal had existed as early as the 6th century BC but had fallen out of use by the time of the Roman Empire. It is uncertain how long Trajan’s canal lasted, but it would become silted up by the 7th century.
110? Portus Ferresanus▲
During Trajan’s reign, the Romans seem to have established a garrison on Farasan island (Portus Ferresanus in Latin), in the southern Red Sea off the coast of Arabia, possibly to guard the lucrative trade routes passing through the strait of Bab-el-Maneb. Farasan—conjectured to be the southernmost point of the Roman Empire—may have originally been an outpost of the Nabataean Kingdom and initially administered from the Roman province of Arabia, but by 144 was being governed from Egypt. How long this station lasted is uncertain from the scant archaeological record, but it was probably abandoned by the end of the Crisis of the Third Century (235–285).