The Hadrian Stele
Working from photographs, the stele's inscription was translated as follows by Professor G. W. Bowersock of Harvard University as reported in Archaeology Magazine, August 1966.
"To the good fortune of Bostra, Hadrian a painter with the Third Cyrenaican Legion [set this up]."
"Professor Bowersock suggested that since the painter has taken his name from the emperor Hadrian, the inscription can be no earlier than that emperor's reign (A.D. 117-138). The lettering of the inscription confirms a date in the second or third century of the Christian era. Furthermore, from the Hadrianic period onward, the headquarters of the Third Cyrenaican Legion were at Bostra in the province of Arabia. Therefore it is appropriate that a person associated with the legion should set up a stele to the Tyche (good fortune) of Bostra. I believe that this is the first known inscription confirming the presence of Roman troops at this southernmost outpost of the Nabataeans."
The rock-cut tombs of Meda'in Salih (modern al-Hijr, in northwest Saudi Arabia) are located on the ancient caravan trail - which later became the pilgrim route for pious Muslims going to Mecca - between the eastern Mediterranean and southwest Arabia. This was the incense road by which frankincense and spices were brought to the Mediterranean world, especially in Hellenistic and Roman times. The northern part of this trade route was controlled for some time by the Nabataeans, whose kingdom was centered in the desolate area south of the Dead Sea, with the capital at Petra. Meda'in Salih was the southern outpost of their domain.