Crete held a strategic location in the eastern Mediterranean and this was a challenge for the Roman Empire. In 74 B.C. Mark Anthony started a campaign against the island, but the Cretans were well prepared and defeated him at sea. Later, in 69 B.C. Crete fell to the Romans and became a Roman province. Gortyna, which was always a Roman ally, became the island’s capital. Other important Roman cities were located in Eleftherna, Polyrrhenia, Limenas Chersonisou and Aptera. Living conditions gradually improved and the population increased. However, the Cretans never played an active role in the political and cultural activities of the Roman Empire.