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date: 06 February 2023

Thamugadifree

Thamugadifree

  • William Nassau Weech
  •  and R. J. A. Wilson

Subjects

  • Ancient Geography
  • Christianity

Updated in this version

Bibliography updated to reflect current scholarship; keywords added.

Thamugadi (modern Timgad, Algeria), a settlement in Numidia 32 km. (20 mi.) east of Lambaesis, is one of the few almost totally excavated towns in the Roman empire. Founded in 100 ce by Trajan as a veteran colony,1 the original town was designed on a very regular orthogonal street grid; cardo and decumanus intersect at right angles, curia, basilica, and forum were placed at this intersection, and smaller streets run parallel to the two main roads. Thamugadi had fourteen public baths and a theatre; public-spirited citizens gave it a market and (in the 4th century) a library. When it outgrew the original walled square (which measured 200 Roman ft. each side, making it a 12.5-ha. (30-acre) settlement), an enormous Capitoline temple was built in the second half of the 2nd century outside the walls (which were largely dismantled as the city grew). African cults, however, with thinly Romanizing veneer, flourished: especially numerous are stelai (see stele) to Baal-Saturn, worshipped in another extramural temple. Among the numerous private houses, the larger ones with central peristyles nearly all had a piped water supply.

The fertile countryside brought great prosperity under the Septimian dynasty (see septimius severus; rome (history)), when a great sanctuary was built in 213 around a spring south of the town, the aqua Septimiana Felix.2 Most of the mosaics, with exuberant and distinctive floral and geometric patterns, belong to the 3rd and early 4th centuries, when the city was still growing. In the 4th century Thamugadi was a centre of the Donatists, and what are claimed as the remains of separate Donatist and Catholic “cathedrals,” along with six other churches and three chapels, have been identified. In the Vandal period Berber raiders sacked it. The Byzantines in 539/540 built a protective fort to the south of the town, among the best preserved of its type in north Africa, but there is little sign of Byzantine urban regeneration. See urbanism.

Bibliography

  • Ballu, Albert. Les Ruines de Timgad. 2nd edn. Paris: E. Leroux, 1904.
  • Ballu, Albert. Les Ruines de Timgad: Sept années de découvertes (1903–1910). Paris: Neurdein Frères, 1911.
  • Courtois, Christian. Timgad, antique Thamugadi. Algiers: Imprimerie Officielle, 1951.
  • Fentress, Elizabeth W. B., Numidia and the Roman Army: Social, Military and Economic Aspects of the Frontier Zone. Oxford: BAR, 1979.
  • Germain, Suzanne. Les Mosaiques de Timgad: Étude descriptive et analytique. Paris: Éditions du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1969.
  • Gui, Isabelle, Noël Duval, and Jean-Pierre Caillet. Basiliques chrétiennes d'Afrique du Nord 1. Paris: Institut des Études Augustiniennes, 1992.
  • Lassus, Jean. La Forteresse byzantine de Thamugadi, fouilles à Timgad 1938–1956. Paris: Editions du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1981.
  • Le Bohec, Yann. “Le plan de la Timgad primitive.” In L'armée romaine en Afrique et en Gaule, edited by Yann Le Bohec, 319–332. Stuttgart: Steiner, 2007.
  • Sears, Gareth. Late Roman African Urbanism: Continuity and Transformation in the City. Oxford: Archaeopress, 2007.
  • Stone, David L. “Africa in the Roman Empire: Connectivity, the Economy, and Artificial Port Structures.” American Journal of Archaeology 118.4 (2014): 565–600.
  • Witschel, Christian. “The Public Presence of Women in the Cities of Roman North Africa. Two Case Studies: Thamugadi and Cuicul.” In Women and the Roman City in the Latin West, edited by Emily Hemelrijk and Greg Woolf, 85–106. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2013.

Notes

  • 1. H. Dessau, Inscriptiones latinae selectee (Berlin: Weidmann, 1892–1916), 6841.

  • 2. L’Année epigraphique, 1948, 111 and 113.