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date: 16 October 2019

Cherchel [Phoen. Iol; Lat. Caesarea; Fr. Charachel]locked

  • T. W. Potter

Extract

[Phoen. Iol; Lat. Caesarea; Fr. Charachel]

Algerian seaport with a sheltered anchorage and a hinterland of fertile valleys, set amid high mountains. It was settled at least as early as 600 bc, probably by Carthaginians, who called it Iol. It rapidly grew into a prosperous trading post that had town defences by 200 bc. Its most illustrious ruler was Juba II of Mauretania (reg 25 bcad 23), who, educated in Rome and a friend of Augustus, sought to make his city as Greco-Roman in appearance as possible. Iol was renamed Caesarea, and, with the help of imported craftsmen, many public buildings of Roman type were built, including a theatre, an amphitheatre, a forum, a palace and huge town walls. Juba also acquired much fine Classical sculpture (Cherchel, Mus. Archéol.) and some ancient Egyptian objects.

In ad 40 Caesarea was made capital of the province of Mauretania Caesariensis, and under Claudius (regad 41–54) it was awarded colonial rank. Its continued prosperity is attested by the remains of a 45 km-long aqueduct, probably built in Hadrian’s reign (...

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