§143 Agrippa’s Siege of the Province

Agrippa’s Siege of the Province

(0143) Text: l tm bn s¹‘d bn tm bn m[‘](z) […] ḥl [h-­‐] dr s¹nt kbs¹ h[…] mlk [gr]fṣ h[… m]dnt w […] s¹lm

Translation: By Tm son of S‘d son of Tm son of M‘z […] he camped here the year king Agrippa made a sudden attack on the province.

Commentary: It is not clear what event or even which Agrippa this Safaitic inscription refers to. There are no known instances where either Agrippa attacked Syria, which is the presumptive referent here (see also §146). The Safaitic inscription almost certainly refers to Agrippa II, though his participation in which siege is entirely unclear – presumably it occurred during the Judaean War. That said, E. B. Banning cautions that Safaitic inscriptions are probably prone to exaggerate the magnitude of conflicts with Romans and other foreign state forces (E. B. Banning, “Peasants, Pastoralists and Pax Romana: Mutualism in the Southern Highlands of Jordan,” BASOR 261 (1986): 44.). Namara also had a fort and a modest garrison, with much Greek and Latin graffiti near the present inscription. See similar dating by Agrippa’s military might in §138, §141, §142, §146. The inscription is in Safaitic and so the text is rendered here in transliteration instead of transcription, given difficulties in reproducing the latter (e.g., use of boustrephedon, non-standard characters).

Provenience: Namara, stateless desert region (al-Namara, Syria) 37-97 CE

Bibliography: OCIANA #0026302*; Hussein Zeinaddin, “Die Inschriften von al-Namara,” in Residences, Castles, Settlements: Transformation Processes from Late Antiquity to Early Islam in Bilad al-Sham, ed. Karin Bartl and Abd Al-Razzaq Moaz, Orient-Archäologie 24 (Ahden: Verlag Marie Leidorf GmbH, 2008), 335; Michael C. A. Macdonald, “’Romans Go Home’? Rome and Other ‘Outsiders’ as Viewed from the Syro-Arabian Desert,” in Inside and Out: Interactions between Rome and the Peoples of the Arabian and Egyptian Frontiers in Late Antiquity, ed. Jitse H. F. Dijkstra and Greg Fisher, LAHR 8 (Leuven: Peeters, 2014), 152.