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 The Nabatæans and Sabæans, situated above Syria, are the first people who occupy Arabia Felix. They were frequently in the habit of overrunning this country before the Romans became masters of it, but at present both they and the Syrians are subject to the Romans. The capital of the Nabatæans is called Petra. It is situated on a spot which is surrounded and fortified by a smooth and level rock (petra), which externally is abrupt and precipitous, but within there are abundant springs of water both for domestic purposes and for watering gardens. Beyond the enclosure the country is for the most part a desert, particularly towards Judæa. Through this is the shortest road to Jericho, a journey of three or four days, and five days to the Phœnicon (or palm plantation). It is always governed by a king of the royal race. The king has a minister who is one of the Companions, and is called Brother. It has excellent laws for the administration of public affairs. Athenodorus, a philosopher, and my friend, who had been at Petra, used to relate with surprise, that he found many Romans and also many other strangers residing there. He observed the strangers frequently engaged in litigation, both with one another and with the natives; but the natives had never any dispute amongst themselves, and lived together in perfect harmony.
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