Posted on 17 December 2014
The Nabateans, from the region now known as Jordan, were traders, in the same way that saber tooth tigers were cats.
For example, just after the Seleucid army sacked their capital city of Petra in 312 BC, the Nabateans were able to annihilate the trespassers in the desert because they were weighed down by so much Nabatean treasure, but in spite of this aggression, the Nabateans worked hard to maintain a cooperative relationship with their invaders, thereby cementing their economic and strategic position in the region.
Their ability to compartmentalize, to prioritize, prevented bloodlust or calls to vengeance from clouding their judgment.
However, if you infringed on trade routes that they laid claim to, the Nabateans had the means and the motivation to slaughter you mercilessly. For the Nabateans, trade was essential to their survival, and they would protect it at all costs, but the key to all of this, the true reason for the Nabateans' vast wealth, was their incomparable ability to control water in the desert. They made astounding innovations on this front, building by far the most complex water collection, storage, and distribution system on the planet during their time. But when the Romans finally came knocking, the Nabateans penchant for bartering would ultimately assist in dismantling their civilization. Overwhelmed by the might of the Roman empire, they chose to cut their losses and negotiate their defeat, forgetting how they became so successful in the first place. In the end, they simply lost sight of their essential truth and joined the long list of great vanished societies.