they pillage it, being difficult to overcome in war. For in the waterless region, as it is called, they have dug wells at convenient intervals and have kept the knowledge of them hidden from the peoples of all other nations, and so they retreat in a body into this region out of danger.1 For since they themselves know about the places of hidden water and open them up, they have for their use drinking water in abundance; but such other peoples as pursue them, being in want of a watering-place by reason of their ignorance of the wells, in some cases perish because of the lack of water and in other cases regain their native land in safety only with difficulty and after suffering many ills. Consequently the Arabs who inhabit this country, being difficult to overcome in war, remain always unenslaved; furthermore, they never at any time accept a man of another country as their over-lord and continue to maintain their liberty unimpaired. Consequently neither the Assyrians of old, nor the kings of the Medes and Persians, nor yet those of the Macedonians have been able to enslave them, and although they led many great forces against them, they never brought their attempts to a successful conclusion.2
There is also in the land of the Nabataeans a rock,3 which is exceedingly strong since it has but one approach, and using this ascent they mount it a few at a time and thus store their possessions in safety. And a large lake4 is also there which produces
- 1A fuller description of this custom is given in Book 19. 94 in connection with the expedition of Antigonus against the Nabataeans.
- 2Cp. chap. 1. 5.
- 3The city of Petra (rock); cp. Book 19. 97 and Strabo, 16. 21.
- 4The Dead Sea; cp. Strabo 16. 42 f. The remainder of this chapter appears in the same words in Book 19, 98, which has been the basis of many changes in the text of the present passage.