Algeria Archaeology

By | December 22, 2021

Archaeological research in Algeria has led, in recent years, to remarkable results which deserve to be recorded in addition to those shown in the item africa (I, p. 780).

Punic archaeology. – One hundred and fifty lead coins, discovered in the Marina quarter in Algiers, revealed their existence in the third and fourth centuries BC. C. of a Punic bank called Jkosim (the Island of the birds of the sea). These coins, of the same type as the coins of Cossyra (Pantelleria), reveal the etymology of the Latin name Icosium, which was that of Algiers in the Roman period, and the importance of the islets that served as the cradle of the city, in the past and in the modern times (El-Djezair “the islands”). Searches in the vicinity of the port of Tipasa, a city in Mauretania Caesariensis, led to the discovery of a Punic necropolis, with furnishings from the IV-III century. to. C.: this confirms the Punic origin of the Roman colony.

Roman and Christian archaeology. – Systematic excavations continued in the places of Roman cities, especially in Numidia and proconsular Africa. In Numidia in Thamugadi (Timgad), the area of ​​the city was brought to light, including the suburbs of the lower empire: numerous houses adorned with mosaics, built without a regular plan, were excavated outside the quadrilateral of the colony of Trajan, and mainly , along the way from Carthage to Lambesi, the decumanus maximus of the colony. There was also the discovery of great works of capturing, draining and decanting water, from the time of Commodus; a necropolis with cremation from the 2nd century has been excavated. d. C. to the west of the city, on both sides of the via di Lambesi, where many inscriptions have been found as well as abundant furnishings.

From the Christian era, an immense necropolis has been excavated south of the city, made up of thousands of modest tombs grouped around a cemeterial church. An important discovery was that of the home of Bishop Optatus of Thamugadi (388-398). This discovery makes it possible to recognize in what was called the western monastery a Donatist ensemble, very interesting in its complexity. The excavation of the Byzantine fortress built by Solomon in 539 and located south of the city, has revealed a set of Byzantine fortifications and settlements, with baths and chapel, wonderfully preserved. In addition, a group of monuments dating back three centuries was discovered: sanctuaries, one of which to the goddess of homeland, a vast swimming pool, courtyards and arcades, once decorated with paintings (viridarium), from the end of the age of the Antonines and the period of the Severans. The cause of the rise of this beautiful architectural complex was the existence of a source, which has now disappeared: the aqua Septimiana Felix.

In Cuicul (Djemila) excavations have uncovered the area surrounding the South Forum: a civil basilica of the 4th century (age of Valentinian and Valens) was found built between 364 and 367 on the remains of a temple in Frugifer by the residents of the nearby village of Tisedis or Tisidis. The houses that lined the street that led to the theater were brought to light together with the whole Christian quarter, behind the Septimius Temple; many bronze objects, marble statues and mosaics have been found, now preserved in the museum of Djemila. The theater that was threatening to ruin was consolidated and its crowning found in the course of the works was partially relocated. For Algeria 2004, please check

The excavations of Castellum Tidditanorum, north of Constantina, have begun to bring to light a large village dependent on Cirta, built on a steep mountain and isolated from all sides. A monumental door gave access to the inside of the hamlet, the houses of which are arranged in shelves on a slope, crossed in a zig-zag by a paved street. On the two sides of the main street there are buildings partly dug into the rock, partly elevated on terraces, such as, for example, a paved square onto which halls intended for sanctuaries and buildings of worship open up. It is undoubtedly the forum where the municipal life of this castellum was exercised, administered by the magistrates of the Cirta confederation through a praefectus pro III viris. A cave had been adapted as a sanctuary of Mithra, as an inscription says. Other sanctuaries have been found, which seem to be consecrated to chthonic and agrarian cults. A vast water castle fed by rainwater dominates part of the city; it was built in 251 by a curator of the colony of Cirta, an ancient consul.

In the part of proconsular Africa that is located in Algeria, the research was directed above all to Theveste (Tebessa) and Hippo Regius (Bona). At Theveste the great basilica, already excavated, was tested below and revealed the existence of a Christian cemetery with tombs and epigraphic mosaics and, further down, of a basement with a Christian chapel with a trifoliate plan with tombs and niches. It is undoubtedly an underground refuge that was used as a burial place. Some beautiful spas belonging to an Annia family have also been brought to lightwith mosaic decoration. In Bona, after having brought to light the remains of the theater, the excavation of the hole was undertaken, of which part of the flooring and a well-preserved portico were discovered, and statues and inscriptions are still coming to light. A neighborhood near the forum is being unveiled. Christian vestiges have also been found at some distance.

In Mauretania Caesariensis, in Tipasa, around the chapel of Alexander already excavated by S. Gsell, a crypt, dependent on the church, was found, where the first bishops of Tipasa had been buried, and next to it an area of ​​martyrs with tombs dating back to sec. III. It is a very well preserved paleo-Christian ensemble and of the highest interest. Particular studies have been made on the fortifications of Tipasa and Cherchel.

For some years now, a series of works, aerial researches and methodical excavations have been undertaken on the Roman limes of Numidia.

Muslim archaeology. – Excavations have been made on the area of ​​a Rostemid city and an important historical monument has also been studied.

Algeria Archaeology