The region broadly defined as Arabia includes a vast territory: the entire Arabian peninsula, from the Sinai peninsula in the West, almost to the Euphrates in the East, and as far north as Damascus along the East bank of the Jordan River. None of these regions are firmly under Roman control.

The Nabatæan Kingdom, ruled by Malichus II (from 40-70 CE), extends from the east bank of the Jordan river to the Sinai peninsula, and well into the eastern desert as well. Much of this territory is, of course, desert, irrigated only during a short rainy season each year. Oases are central to life in this terrain, and the Jordan River is equally essential.

Nabatæa is a client kingdom of Rome, and extremely important to the spice and perfume trade. Its capital is Bostra in the north, and Petra is another very important city — the important temples and other buildings of the city carved into pink stone cliffs. As Ægyptus' sea trade with India increases, however, the Nabatæans are being forced to rely more on their own agriculture in the oases of the peninsula and around the Jordan.

The Kingdom of Saba lies on the southwestern tip of the Arabian peninsula. Its history extends into the distant past,

The Sabæans exert a good deal of influence on the Ethiopian kingdom of Axum.

Flora and Fauna


As contrasted with Ægyptus, for example, or most any Roman province, the lands of Arabia are much more homogeneous in population. Merchants from all parts of Rome, Æthiopia, Parthia, and lands further east of course travel through Arabian territory, but they do not form the same sort of socially-stratified class that similar groups in other regions do.

That said, it is important to recognize the diversity in the Arabian population. Nabatæa and Saba are completely independent from each other politically and culturally, differing in language, religion, and many other respects. Separating the two civilizations are vast expanses of desert populated by nomadic desert elves, gnomes, and humans (Bedouins). These same nomadic groups wander freely through both kingdoms, and into Ægyptus and Syria as well. Desert riders (see Ægyptus) are also found in the Arabian desert, though not in as great numbers as in Ægyptus.

In many ways, the Nabatæan kingdom is quite Mediterranean in its culture. The people write in Aramaic (a Syrian language, the lingua franca of the east) and are an important part of the Empire's economy. Relations between the kingdom and Rome are good, and trade flourishes.

Saba, on the other hand, is utterly foreign to Roman eyes, and virtually unknown to most inhabitants of the Empire. Its religion and its language (a southwest Semitic tongue related to the later Classical Arabic) are both unfamiliar, though closely related to those of the north, and there is little contact across the desert except as mediated through the various nomadic peoples.

While both the Nabatæan and Sabæan kingdoms are predominantly human, an important race in Saba, unknown in the rest of the Roman world, is the highelven people. These elves, the pure remnant of the original elven stock which lived in northern Europe before the last Ice Age, are urbanized and quite civilized compared with any other elven subrace. They are integrated fully into Sabæan culture and civilization, dwelling in cities side-by-side with humans.

The Dwarves of Arabia

Arabia is home to several great dwarven kingdoms, surpassing even those of Ægyptus in age, size, and splendor. When the Ice Age made most of Europe uninhabitable, dwarves migrated south and east, and many settled in Arabia. While humanoid strength in the mountains of Ægyptus made it impossible for the dwarves to establish strongholds there until 4386 BCE (see the history card for Ægyptus), those dwarves who went into Arabia met with less resistance, and their kingdoms were strong while Ægyptian dwarves were still nomadic.


Atargatis is the Nabatæan earth-mother-goddess. She has two consorts, Dushara, a dying and rising earth god, and Hadad, a sky god. Her cult is described by Apuleius "with shoulders bare, wielding great swords, wailing out of tune to the sound of the pipe, gesticulating, twirling with body bent till their hair stood out in the wind of their movement, leacerating their flesh with teeth or sword," (John Ferguson, The Religions of the Roman Empire).

The Sabæan religion is similar to other Semitic pantheons. ÔAthtar is a male version of Astarte or Ishtar. Ilmuqah is a moon god, the national deity, whose image has been found in Axum in Ethiopia. TaÕlab may be a sun god.

Genies are an important part of the religious and magical life of all of Arabia, a force to be reckoned with wherever the supernatural realm is concerned — or, for that matter, when traveling in the desert.


Nabataea became relevant in the Mediterranean world as early as the third century BCE, with its aggressive trade in spices and perfumes. Its first-century kings were: Aretas IX (8 BCE - 40 CE); Malichus II (40-70), and Rabbel II (70-106). In 106 Trajan annexed the kindom and established it as the Roman province of Arabia.