Published online by Cambridge University Press: 23 March 2020
This chapter focuses on the oases of the northern Sahara, both those close to and in some cases incorporated within the frontiers of the Roman provinces of Africa. With the exception of some outstanding contributions from our co-author Pol Trousset, there has been little consideration of the potential scale or on the ground reality of oasis development in the Roman frontier region. This is only partly explicable in terms of the lack of detailed archaeological work at these sites – as we shall demonstrate there is quite a lot of fragmentary evidence to support the case for widespread oasis development in pre-Islamic times. In large measure the lack of recognition of the importance of oases here relates to the long-prevailing myth that Rome was confronted in this frontier zone by nomadic (or at best transhumant) peoples. It is hoped that what follows will provoke a full re-evaluation of Rome’s African frontiers and what they were designed to deal with.