Life in rural areas in antiquity was hazardous to person and property. As one moved away from the centres of population, the risk of being robbed, assaulted or killed increased. Both travellers and country residents were constantly beset by these problems. The extent and nature of the lawlessness in any area, depended in part of the degree to which it was thickly settled, had urban centres, and had a tradition of controlling violence. Roman Egypt had a large measure of both violence and the means to control it. Several groups were the sources of this insecurity. The principal external threat was various groups of (non-Egyptian) nomads in the deserts to the east and west of the Nile Valley; the border of the cultivated land with the desert was a long one and hard to defend, while the targets in the valley were tempting.
Jarce, XIV (1977)