When Egypt became a province of the Roman Empire in 30 B.C. after the deaths of Antony and Cleopatra, its vast and mysterious frontier lands had an important impact on the commerce, politics, and culture of the empire. This engrossing bookpart history and part gazetteerfocuses on Rome’s Egyptian frontier, describing the ancient fortresses, temples, settlements, quarries, and aqueducts scattered throughout the region and conveying a vivid sense of what life was like for its inhabitants.
Robert B. Jackson has journeyed, by jeep and on foot, to virtually every known Roman site in the area, from Siwa Oasis, forty-five kilometers from the modern Libyan border, to the Sudan. Drawing on both archaeological and historical information, he discusses these sites, explaining how Rome extracted exotic stone and precious metals from the mountains of the Eastern Desert, channeled the wealth of India and East Africa through the desert via ports on the Red Sea, constructed and manned fortresses in the distant oases of the Western Desert, and facilitated the expansion of agricultural communities in the desert that eventually experienced the earliest large-scale conversions to Christianity in Egypt. Elegantly written and illustrated with many handsome photographs, the book will be a treasured resource for archaeologists, classicists, and travelers to the region.