2000-Year-old Roman-Era Military Camps Discovered in Saudi Arabian Desert

Oxford University researchers said these camps were set up as defended barracks when the Romans began their Arabia conquest.

Three Roman-era military camps, from almost 2,000 years ago, have been discovered in the Saudi Arabian desert, according to Sky News. The camps were discovered by Oxford University researchers, who traced the camps using Google Earth. A peer-reviewed study detailing the discovery has been published in the journal Antiquity. The researchers say the discovery suggests as evidence of a Roman campaign across Southeast Jordan into Saudi Arabia during the second century, as per the Sky News report. Researchers claim that these camps were constructed during the Roman takeover of the Jordanian Nabataean Kingdom in 106 AD.

"We are almost certain they were built by the Roman army, given the typical playing card shape of the enclosures with opposing entrances along each side," Dr Michael Fradley, part of the team that identified the camps, was quoted as saying by the outlet.

He added that these camps were set up as defended barracks when the Romans began their Arabia conquest.

Oxford's Mike Bishop, an expert on the Roman military, told The National: "These camps are 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," the expert added.

Dr Fradley said the manner in which these camps have been preserved is "remarkable", considering these structures were temporary and used "for a matter of days or weeks".

The National said that these camps are situated at a distance of 37-44 kilometres from each other, which suggests it was too far to be crossed by infantry in a day.

The researchers say in the study that the camps were built by Roman cavalry, which would have been able to travel over barren terrain in a single day, possibly on camels.



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