From Academic Kids

This article is about the Roman province. For the Pennsylvania city, see Numidia, Pennsylvania.

Numidia was an ancient African Berber kingdom and later a Roman province on the northern coast of Africa between the province of Africa (where Tunisia is now) and the province of Mauretania (which is now the western part of Algeria's coastal area). What was Numidia then is now the eastern part of Algeria's coast.

The region that constituted Numidia in Roman usage, became more specific and more constricted with time. Beginning as the territory west of Carthage in the 3rd century BCE, when Numidia was applied by Polybius and other historians to the whole Maghreb as far as the river Mulucha (Muluya), about 100 miles west of Oran, the Numidians were conceived of as two great tribal groups, the Massyli in eastern Numidia, and the Massaesyli in the west. At the time of the Second Punic War the eastern tribes took the side of the Romans whereas the Massaesyli supported the Carthaginians. At the end of the war the victorious Romans gave all of Numidia to Massinissa (died 148 BCE) of the Massaesyli, whose territory extended from Mauretania to the boundary of the Carthaginian territory, and also southeast as far as Cyrenaica, so that Numidia entirely surrounded Carthage (Appian, Punica, 106) except towards the sea.

After the death of Jugurtha (106 BC) as a Roman captive, western Numidia was added to the lands of Bocchus, king of Mauretania, while the remainder (excluding Cyrene and its locality) continued to be governed by native princes until the civil war between Caesar and Pompey, defeated by Caesar, committed suicide (46 BCE) and Numidia became briefly the province of Africa Nova until Augustus restored Juba II (son of Juba I) after the Battle of Actium.

Soon afterwards, in 25 BC, Juba was transferred to the throne of Mauretania, and Numidia was divided between Mauretania and the province of Africa Nova. Under Septimus Severus (193 AD), Numidia was separated from Africa Vetus, and governed by an imperial procurator; finally, under the new organization of the empire by Diocletian, Numidia became one of the seven provinces of the diocese of Africa, being known as Numidia Cirtensis.

Numidia was highly Romanized and was studded with numerous towns. The invasion of the Vandals in 428 AD began its slow decay, accompanied by desertification.

The chief towns of Roman Numidia were: in the north, Cirta, the capital, with its port Rusicada; Hippo Regius (near Bona), well known as the see of St. Augustine. To the south in the interior military roads led to Theveste (Tebessa) and Lambaesis (Lambessa) with extensive Roman remains, connected by military roads with Cirta and Hippo respectively.

Lambaesis was the seat of the Legio III Augusta, and the most important strategic centre, as commanding the passes of the Mons Aurasius, a mountain block which separated Numidia from the Gaetulian tribes of the desert, and which was gradually occupied in its whole extent by the Romans under the Empire. Including these towns there were altogether twenty which are known to have received at one time or another the title and status of Roman colonies; and in the 5th century the Notitia Dignitatum enumerates no less than 123 sees whose bishops assembled at Carthage in 479.

See also

External links

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