The Nabataean kingdom, also named Nabatea (many times spelled Nabatean), was a political state of the Nabataeans which existed during Classical antiquity and was annexed by the Roman Empire in AD 106
Located between the Sinai Peninsula and the Arabian Peninsula, its northern neighbour was the kingdom of Judea, and it south western neighbour was Ptolomaic Egypt. Its capital was the city of Petra, and it included the towns of Bostra and Nitzana.
Petra was a wealthy trading town, located in a meeting place of several trade routes. One of them was the Incense Route.
Under the reign of Aretas III (87 to 62 BC) the kingdom seems to have reached its territorial zenith, but was defeated and by a Roman army under the command of Marcus Aemilius Scaurus. Scarus' army even besieged Petra, but eventually a compromise was negotiated. Paying a tribute, Aretas III received the formal recognition by the Roman Republic.
The kingdom saw itself slowly surrounded by the expanding Roman Empire, who conquered Egypt and annexed Judea. While the Nabatean kingdom managed to preserve its formal independence, it became a client kingdom under the influence of Rome.
In AD 106, during the reign of Roman emperor Trajan, the last king Rabbel II Soter died. This event might have prompted the annexation of Nabatea, although the formal reasons, and the exact manner of annexation, are unknown.
Some epigraphic evidence suggests a military campaign, commanded by Cornelius Palma, the governor of Syria. Roman forces seem to have come from Syria and also from Egypt. It is clear that by 107 Roman legions were stationed in the area around Petra and Bostra, as is shown by a papyrus found in Egypt. The kingdom was annexed by the empire, becoming the province of Arabia Petraea. Trade seems to have largely continued.
A century later, during the reign of Alexander Severus, the local issue of coinage came to an end.
There is no more building of sumptuous tombs, owing apparently to some sudden catastrophe, such as an invasion by the neo-Persian power under the Sassanid Empire.
The city of Palmyra, for a time the capital of the breakaway Palmyrene Empire (fl. 130–270), grew in importance and attracted the Arabian trade away from Petra.