The Roman Near East, 31 B.C.-A.D. 337

By Fergus Millar | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER
3
IMPERIALISM AND EXPANSION,
AD 74-195

3.1. VESPASIAN: A NEW NEAR EASTERN EMPIRE

Looked at as a whole, the development of the provincial system in the Near East and the transformation of Roman military dispositions there in the late first century give every impression of representing an integrated plan, conceived in Rome and thought out with the aid of a map. Judaea, as we have seen, became a one-legion province governed by a senator of praetorian rank. Commagene ceased to be a dependent kingdom and became part of the province of Syria, as (it seems clear) did the kingdom of Sohaemus of Emesa, straddling the upper Orontes and stretching out a considerable distance into the steppe; and Palmyra, whatever its relation to the province before, was now clearly tied within it. But, most important of all, it is natural to see these developments in connection with the transformation of Cappadocia into a major military province, with two legions stationed at Melitene (Malatya) and at Satala, and a senatorial governor of ex-consul status. It was at this moment, in the 70s, that after nearly a century and a half the Roman presence in the Near East ceased to be a bridgehead and came to resemble an integrated provincial and military system.

It is at this moment too that documentary and archaeological evidence begins to play a fuller part; that has its own dangers of course, for we can never fully account for the logical gap between the first attestation of something which happens, perhaps by mere accident, to appear in our evidence, and the claim that that was when the pattern now attested first came into existence. Nonetheless the cumulative effect of all the evidence is such as to make it impossible to deny a radical transformation at this stage.

Whether it represented a plan, and if so, who formed it, where and when,

-80-

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