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Dougga  

M’Hamed Fantar

[anc. Thugga.]

Site of one of the best-preserved Roman towns in Africa, built on a plateau overlooking the valley of Oued Khalled in north-western Tunisia. A fine collection of archaeological material has been found there. Dougga dates back to the earliest phase of Libyan antiquity and certainly belonged to the kingdom of Numidia long before the reign of Masinissa (d 148 bc); writing on the invasion of Agathalus at the end of the 4th century bc, Diodorus Siculus mentioned the king Ailymas, whose domain included the territory of ‘Tebagga’. During the Second Punic War between Rome and Carthage (218–201 bc), Dougga was under the Carthaginians, but it was won back by Masinissa and retained by his successors until the death of Juba I in 46 bc. Of the Numidian town there remain the megalithic wall (4th century bc), the dolmens and the Mausoleum of Atban, one of the finest Libyo-Punic ...

Article

Ghirza  

R. J. A. Wilson

Site of Romanized Berber settlement on the banks of the Wadi Ghirza, 240 km south-east of Tripoli, Libya. The site consists of 38 buildings from the 4th and 5th centuries ad, some still preserved up to a height of 7 m. Half a dozen of them are in the form of impressive castle-like structures, two or three storeys high, with interior courts; this type of farm building, once thought to have had a quasi-military role, is typical of the Tripolitanian pre-desert area from the second half of the 2nd century ad onwards. Smaller houses are either single-roomed or have two or three rooms set end to end. One building is a Semitic-type temple probably dedicated to Baal, with an open court and rooms ranged around it. Cisterns, two wells and rubbish middens have also been identified, the last showing that barley, figs and many other crops were present. The settlement seems to have been occupied until the early 6th century ...

Article

T. W. Potter

[now Annaba, Arab. al-‛Annāba; formerly Bône]

Site in Algeria that flourished from c. 200 bc to ad 430. It lies close to the Mediterranean coast on flat ground, nearly at sea-level, between two low hills. The town once possessed an excellent harbour as well as a fertile hinterland. It probably began as a Phoenician settlement, but the site has yielded few finds earlier than c. 200 bc and virtually no structures earlier than a great sea-wall of c. 40 bc. Hippo was a Numidian royal centre before being annexed by Rome in 46 bc. It developed in an unplanned way; having received municipal status under Augustus (reg 27 bcad 14), it was promoted to colonial status only in the 2nd century ad. However, extensive white marble quarries lay within its territory at Djebel Filfila, near Skikda, 80km to the west. These were almost certainly developed under Juba II, ruler at Iol Caesarea, 25 bc...

Article

Dominic Montserrat

[anc. Egyp. Per-Medjed; Copt. Pemdje; now el-Bahnasa]

Site on the Bahr Yusuf, 50 km north of el-Minya in Egypt. Little is known of the town in the Dynastic period (c. 2925–332 bc), when it was the capital of the 19th Upper Egyptian nome and played an important role in the mythology of Osiris. Its main importance is as a source of Roman-period (30 bcad 395) papyri, which were preserved by the dry climate, encaustic mummy portraits and Early Christian funerary sculpture.

The rubbish heaps of Oxyrhynchus were first excavated by Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt in 1896, and they have since yielded over 10,000 papyri, the largest number from a single site. They provide unique examples of Roman book illustrations, including circus scenes and stories from mythology, as well as more ephemeral works such as preliminary sketches in wash for wall paintings and coloured designs for textiles (all now Oxford, Ashmolean). Papyrus rolls with fine manuscripts of literary texts attest the art of the calligrapher in Roman Egypt; some luxury books found at the site may have been produced in ...

Article

T. W. Potter

[Timgad]

Site of one of the most completely excavated Roman towns in North Africa (see fig.). It lies on the edge of a plain in Algeria, below the northern flanks of the Aures mountains, some 160 km from the Mediterranean coast. It stood at a nodal point in the road system: to the west lay the legionary fortress at Lambaesis, while to the east was the main route to Thevestis and Carthage. It was founded by Trajan in ad 100 as a colony for army veterans, the Colonia Marciana Traiana Thamugadi, and built by soldiers stationed at Lambaesis. Although its plan is overwhelmingly military, there is little doubt that Thamugadi was intended to be a town, not a military base. Its square shape comprises a grid of 111 blocks, each 20 sq. m; most were subdivided into properties for the individual settlers, while a good number were given over to public buildings....