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Roman bridge of Thuburnica
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Shown within Tunisia
Location Tunisia
Region Jendouba Governorate
Coordinates 36°31′37″N8°28′12″E / 36.527°N 8.470°E / 36.527; 8.470 Coordinates: 36°31′37″N8°28′12″E / 36.527°N 8.470°E / 36.527; 8.470

Thuburnica was an ancient Roman-Berber city in the Maghreb. It was located in the present-day El Kalâa, near Chemtou in western Tunisia. It may have been the ancient town of Bulla Regia.

Roman Empire period of Imperial Rome following the Roman Republic (27 BC–395 AD)

The Roman Empire was the post-Roman Republic period of the ancient Roman civilization. It had a government headed by emperors and large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, North Africa, and West Asia. From the constitutional reforms of Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, the Empire was a principate ruled from the city of Rome. The Roman Empire was then divided between a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and later Ravenna, and an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and later Constantinople, and it was ruled by multiple emperors.

Berbers ethnic group indigenous to North Africa

Berbers, or Amazighs are an ethnic group of several nations indigenous to North Africa.

Maghreb region of Northwest Africa

The Maghreb, also known as Northwest Africa or Northern Africa, Greater Arab Maghreb, Arab Maghreb or Greater Maghreb, or by some sources the Berber world, Barbary and Berbery, is a major region of North Africa that consists primarily of the countries Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania. It additionally includes the disputed territories of Western Sahara and the cities of Melilla and Ceuta. As of 2018, the region has a population of over 100 million people.



For its ecclesiastical history, as former suffragan diocese of Carthage and present Latin titular bishopric, see Thuburnica (see).

The Late Roman Republican general Caius Marius started the Roman presence in Thuburnica, allowing some of his veterans (the "Conditores coloniae" or 'founders of the colonia') to settle in a small ancient Berber village just south of Tabarka, near the border between present Tunisia and Algeria. [1]

Roman Republic Period of ancient Roman civilization (509–27 BC)

The Roman Republic was the era of classical Roman civilization beginning with the overthrow of the Roman Kingdom, traditionally dated to 509 BC, and ending in 27 BC with the establishment of the Roman Empire. It was during this period that Rome's control expanded from the city's immediate surroundings to hegemony over the entire Mediterranean world.

Tabarka Place in Jendouba Governorate, Tunisia

Tabarka is a coastal town located in north-western Tunisia, close to the border with Algeria. Tabarka's history is a colorful mosaic of Berber, Punic, Hellenistic, Roman, and Islamic, and Turkish culture. The town is dominated by an offshore rock on which is remains a Genoese castle. Nationalist leader Habib Bourguiba, later president of post-independence Tunisia, was exiled here by the French colonial authorities in 1952.. Tourist attractions include its coral fishing, the Coralis Festival of underwater photography, and its annual jazz festival.

Algeria country in North Africa

Algeria, officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of North Africa. The capital and most populous city is Algiers, located in the far north of the country on the Mediterranean coast. With an area of 2,381,741 square kilometres (919,595 sq mi), Algeria is the tenth-largest country in the world, and the largest in Africa. Algeria is bordered to the northeast by Tunisia, to the east by Libya, to the west by Morocco, to the southwest by the Western Saharan territory, Mauritania, and Mali, to the southeast by Niger, and to the north by the Mediterranean Sea. The country is a semi-presidential republic consisting of 48 provinces and 1,541 communes (counties). It has the highest Human development index of all non-island African countries.

A few decades later, the first Roman emperor Augustus settled there some of his veterans creating officially a Roman colonia, governed by duumvir' (a pair of collegial, elected municipal magistrates). Thuburnica was one ten colonies founded by emperor Augustus on or near the coast of the Roman province of Mauretania for the retirement of the veterans of his legions, the others being: Rusucurru, Tubusuctu, Igilgili, Saldae, Rusazu, Rusguniae, Aquae Calidae, Zuccabar, Gunugu and Cartenna.

Roman emperor ruler of the Roman Empire

The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period. The emperors used a variety of different titles throughout history. Often when a given Roman is described as becoming "emperor" in English, it reflects his taking of the title Augustus or Caesar. Another title often used was imperator, originally a military honorific. Early Emperors also used the title princeps. Emperors frequently amassed republican titles, notably princeps senatus, consul and pontifex maximus.

Augustus First emperor of the Roman Empire

Augustus was a Roman statesman and military leader who was the first Emperor of the Roman Empire, controlling Imperial Rome from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. His status as the founder of the Roman Principate has consolidated an enduring legacy as one of the most effective and controversial leaders in human history. The reign of Augustus initiated an era of relative peace known as the Pax Romana. The Roman world was largely free from large-scale conflict for more than two centuries, despite continuous wars of imperial expansion on the Empire's frontiers and the year-long civil war known as the "Year of the Four Emperors" over the imperial succession.

Colonia (Roman) Roman outpost established in conquered territory to secure it

A Roman colonia was originally a Roman outpost established in conquered territory to secure it. Eventually, however, the term came to denote the highest status of a Roman city.

Since Emperor Diocletianus's provincial reshuffle, Thuburnica was on the border between Mauretania Sitifensis and Africa Proconsularis (roughly modern Tunisia).

Mauretania Sitifensis

Mauretania Sitifensis was a Roman province in Africa Proconsulare. The capital was Setifis.

Tunisia Country in Northern Africa

Tunisia (officially the Republic of Tunisia) is a country in the Maghreb region of North Africa, covering 165,000 square kilometres. Its northernmost point, Cape Angela, is the northernmost point on the African continent. It is bordered by Algeria to the west and southwest, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Tunisia's population was 11.435 million in 2017. Tunisia's name is derived from its capital city, Tunis, which is located on its northeast coast.

The people of Thuburnica were members of the tribal "Arnense" group. Most of the population of Thuburnica in the third century were descendants of the Roman legionaries and this fact made the city one of the most romanised in ancient Mauretania. The Christian religion became the most important only in the fourth century: [2] paganism was still practiced prominently in Emperor Hadrian's time in a local temple dedicated to Ba'al Hammon, [3] later destroyed and finally converted to church.

Romanization transliteration of characters in a writing system to Latin character system

Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics, is the conversion of writing from a different writing system to the Roman (Latin) script, or a system for doing so. Methods of romanization include transliteration, for representing written text, and transcription, for representing the spoken word, and combinations of both. Transcription methods can be subdivided into phonemic transcription, which records the phonemes or units of semantic meaning in speech, and more strict phonetic transcription, which records speech sounds with precision.

Thuburnica was conquered by the Vandals and reconquered a century later by Byzantine emperor Justinianus, who built a fortification.

Vandals East Germanic tribe

The Vandals were a large East Germanic tribe or group of tribes that first appear in history inhabiting present-day southern Poland. Some later moved in large numbers, including most notably the group which successively established kingdoms in the Iberian Peninsula and then North Africa in the 5th century.

Byzantine Empire Roman Empire during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages

The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire and Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe. Both the terms "Byzantine Empire" and "Eastern Roman Empire" are historiographical exonyms; its citizens continued to refer to their empire simply as the Roman Empire, or Romania (Ῥωμανία), and to themselves as "Romans".

After the Arab invasion in the second half of the seventh century, the city was destroyed and disappeared.

Archeological remains

There are today few standing edifices dating to Roman Thuburnica. However, a local Roman bridge is still working in perfect conditions.

The ruins include: a mausoleum, two arches, a temple, four cisterns, thermae (public baths), an aqueduct and a small Byzantine fortification.

See also

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  1. Location of Thuburnica, south of Thabraca (modern Tabarca)
  2. Thuburnica (Catholic Bishopric map)
  3. Persee: "Le mausolée anonyme de Thuburnica" (in French)

Further reading