Last updated
Location of Tingis in Roman Mauretania Tingitana Mauretania Tingitania - Volubilis.jpg
Location of Tingis in Roman Mauretania Tingitana

Tingis (Latin; Greek : ΤίγγιςTíngis) or Tingi (Ancient Berber: ⵜⵉⵏⴳⵉ), the ancient name of Tangier in Morocco, was an important Carthaginian, Moor, and Roman port on the Atlantic Ocean. It was eventually granted the status of a Roman colony and made the capital of the province of Mauretania Tingitana and, after Diocletian's reforms, the diocese of Hispania.



Ptolemy's 1st African map, showing Roman Mauretania Tingitana Prima Affrice Tabula.jpg
Ptolemy's 1st African map, showing Roman Mauretania Tingitana

The Greeks claimed that Tingis had been named for a daughter of the titan Atlas, who was supposed to support the vault of heaven nearby. They claimed that the Berber legends comported with the stories of Hercules's labors, which carried him to North Africa and the North Atlantic to retrieve the golden apples of the Hesperides. Having killed her husband Antaeus and again condemned her father to eternally supporting the firmament, Hercules slept with Tinja and fathered the Berber hero Syphax. Syphax supposedly founded the port of Tingis and named it his mother's honor after her death. [1] The gigantic skeleton and tomb of Antaeus were tourist attractions for ancient visitors. [1] The Caves of Hercules, where he supposedly rested on Cape Spartel, remain one today.


Punic port

A settlement in Tingis began, at the earliest, in the 10th century BC [2] by Phoenecians, before being settled around the beginning of the 6th century BC by Carthaginian colonists, [3] who variously recorded the name of their settlement as TNG (Punic : 𐤕𐤍𐤂), TNGʾ (𐤕𐤍𐤂𐤀), and TYNGʾ (𐤕𐤉𐤍𐤂𐤀). [4] The town is sometimes connected to the voyages of Hanno the Navigator.

Mauretanian city

After the Punic Wars, Carthage lost control of the colony to the Roman-allied kings of Mauretania. Its name during this time appears in Greek and Roman sources variously as Tenga, Tinga, Titga, &c. [5] It maintained strong ties to its Carthaginian heritage, issuing bronze coins with Punic legends reading "City of Titga" (𐤁‬𐤏‬𐤋‬𐤕 𐤕𐤕𐤂𐤀, BʿLT TTGʾ), "City of Tinga" (𐤁‬𐤏‬𐤋‬𐤕 𐤕𐤉𐤍𐤂𐤀, BʿLT TYNGʾ), or "people of Tinga" (𐤌‬𐤁‬𐤏‬𐤋‬ 𐤕𐤉𐤍𐤂𐤀, MBʿL TYNGʾ). These bore Baal or (via interpretatio Graeca) Demeter's head obverse and wheat reverse. [6]

Roman provincial capital

Surviving walls from Roman Tingis Ruines de Tingis 1.jpg
Surviving walls from Roman Tingis
Roman roads in Morocco Roman roads in Morocco, according to W. B. Harris (1897).png
Roman roads in Morocco

The town came under Roman rule in the 1st century BC. Q. Sertorius, took and held Tingis for a number of years in the 70s BC as part of his war against Sulla's regime in Rome. Tingis grew in importance as a free city[ clarification needed ] under Augustus and then as a colony under Claudius, who made it the capital of Mauritania Tingitana. [5] As a Roman colony, it bore the formal name Colonia Iulia Tingi, [7] the "Julian colony of Tingis". Under the early empire, it began to use Latin script, issuing its bronze coins with the legend IVL TIN; these bore Augustus and Agrippa's heads obverse and Baal's head reverse. [6]

Called Colonia Iulia Tingi on its coins, governed most likely under Latin law and at first attached administratively to Spain, it became under Claudius a Roman colony and chief city of the province of Mauretania Tingitana after it was set up. In 297 the city probably served Maximianus as a base during his campaign against the Moorish rebels, and it was very likely about this time that the Christians Marcellus and Cassienus were put to death. The former belonged to a Spanish community, the latter, however, probably to a local church which funerary inscriptions show existed in the 4th-5th c. although there is no mention of a bishopric until the 6th c. The limits of the ancient settlement are clearly marked by the necropolis discovered to the northwest (that of Marshan and Avenue Cenario), to the west (Mendoubia) and south (Bou Kachkach). Nothing remains of the substructures, which could still be seen on the seashore at the beginning of the century. There were also some baths underneath the Casbah, and confused remains of a monument—apparently a Christian basilica—have been uncovered in the Rue de Belgique. So far as the rest of the city is concerned one can only presume that the forum was situated on the site of the Petit Socco and what was perhaps a temple on the site of the Great Mosque, and that the decumanus maximus corresponded roughly to the Zenga Es Siaghine. Among the few antiquities that have been discovered, the only noteworthy finds, aside from inscriptions and a few mosaic fragments, are a statue of a woman of indifferent workmanship and a mutilated head of the emperor Galba. [8]

As a provincial capital, Tingis developed and prospered. In the 4th century, it surpassed Volubilis when that city was left south of the Roman lines and unprotected by Roman legions. Tingis at its peak reached 20,000 inhabitants, all thoroughly romanized and mostly Christian. Tingis was famed throughout the Roman Empire for its fishing conserve industry. Under Septimius Severus, two Roman roads were constructed from Tingis: one on the Atlantic coast to Sala Colonia and the second into the mountainous interior toward Volubilis.

During Diocletian's reform of Roman governmental structures in AD 296, Mauretania Tingitana became part of the Diocese of Hispania. Tingis remained the capital of the larger territory, maintaining its status and development.

Later history

Justinian and his general Belisarius, as depicted in Ravenna. Justinien represente sur une mosaique de l'eglise San-Vitale a Ravenne.jpg
Justinian and his general Belisarius, as depicted in Ravenna.

The Vandals conquered and occupied Tingis around AD 425 before sweeping across the Roman Maghreb.

Between 534 and 682, Tingis was restored to Byzantine control. Tingis was fortified and a new church erected. However, its commercial strength had waned, a change attested by its decreased issuance of coins.

Tingis fell under the control of the Umayyad Caliphate as part of the Muslim conquest of North Africa in 702, after which it was reduced to a small town more commonly discussed under the name Tangier. Moussa Ibn Noussair organized the conquest of Spain from Tingis and nearby Septem in 706.


The Christian history of Tingis started during the second half of the first century, under Claudius's rule. [9] Originally, the city was part of the larger province of Mauretania Caesariensis, which included most of the Roman Maghreb. Later the area was subdivided, with the eastern part keeping the former name and the newer part receiving the name of Mauretania Tingitana. It is not known exactly at what period there may have been an episcopal see at Tangier in ancient times, but in the late Middle Ages Tangier was a titular see (i.e., an honorific fiction for the appointment of curial and auxiliary bishops). For the historical reasons given above, one official list of the Roman Curia places the see in Mauretania Caesariensis.

Towards the end of the third century, Tingis was the scene of the martyrdom of St Marcellus, mentioned in the Roman Martyrology on 30 October, and of St. Cassian, mentioned on 3 December. Indeed, according to tradition, the martyrdom of St Marcellus took place on 28 July 298.

A small Christian community survived in Tangier as late as the 10th century. Due to its Christian past, Tangierunder the name Tingisis still a titular see of the Roman Catholic Church.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mauretania</span> Region in the ancient Maghreb

Mauretania is the Latin name for a region in the ancient Maghreb. It stretched from central present-day Algeria westwards to the Atlantic, covering northern present-day Morocco, and southward to the Atlas Mountains. Its native inhabitants, of Berber ancestry, were known to the Romans as the Mauri and the Masaesyli.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Oea</span>

Oea was an ancient city in present-day Tripoli, Libya. It was founded by the Phoenicians in the 7th century BC and later became a Roman–Berber colony. As part of the Roman Africa Nova province, Oea and surrounding Tripolitania were prosperous. It reached its height in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, when the city experienced a golden age under the Severan dynasty in nearby Leptis Magna. The city was conquered by the Rashidun Caliphate with the spread of Islam in the 7th century and came to be known as Tripoli during the 9th century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tangier</span> City in and capital of Tanger-Tetouan-Al Hoceima, Morocco

Tangier is a city in northwestern Morocco, on the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The city is the capital of the Tanger-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region, as well as the Tangier-Assilah Prefecture of Morocco.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Siga</span> Berber and Roman port near Aïn Témouchent, Algeria

Siga was a Berber and Roman port located near what is now Aïn Témouchent, Algeria. Under the Roman Empire, it was part of western Mauretania Caesariensis, bordering Mauretania Tingitana.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Volubilis</span> Partly excavated Berber city in Morocco

Volubilis is a partly-excavated Berber-Roman city in Morocco situated near the city of Meknes that may have been the capital of the Kingdom of Mauretania, at least from the time of King Juba II. Before Volubilis, the capital of the kingdom may have been at Gilda.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cirta</span> Ancient Berber and Roman settlement

Cirta, also known by various other names in antiquity, was the ancient Berber and Roman settlement which later became Constantine, Algeria.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mauretania Tingitana</span> Roman Province

Mauretania Tingitana was a Roman province, coinciding roughly with the northern part of present-day Morocco. The territory stretched from the northern peninsula opposite Gibraltar, to Sala Colonia and Volubilis to the south, and as far east as the Mulucha river. Its capital city was Tingis, which is the modern Tangier. Other major cities of the province were Iulia Valentia Banasa, Septem, Rusadir, Lixus and Tamuda.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Maktar</span> Town in Siliana Governorate, Tunisia

Maktar or Makthar, also known by other names during antiquity, is a town and archaeological site in Siliana Governorate, Tunisia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tinjis</span> Deity and wife of Antaeus in Berber and Greek mythology

Tinjis was a Libyan queen as the wife of King Antaeus in Berber and Greek mythology, and some kind of a female deity.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Abyla</span> Roman colony in northwest Africa

Abyla was the pre-Roman name of Ad Septem Fratres. Ad Septem Fratres, usually shortened to Septem or Septa, was a Roman colony in the province of Mauretania Tingitana and a Byzantine outpost in the exarchate of Africa. Its ruins are located within present-day Ceuta, an autonomous Spanish city in northwest Africa.

Aedemon was a freedman of Berber origins from Mauretania who lived in the 1st century AD. Aedemon was a loyal former household slave to the client King Ptolemy of Mauretania, who was the son of King Juba II and the Ptolemaic Princess Cleopatra Selene II.

Icosium was a Phoenician and Punic settlement in modern-day Algeria. It was part of Numidia and later became an important Roman colony and an early medieval bishopric in the casbah area of actual Algiers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rusadir</span> Ancient Punic and Roman town

Rusadir was an ancient Punic and Roman town at what is now Melilla, Spain, in northwest Africa. Under the Roman Empire, it was a colony in the province of Mauretania Tingitana.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Iulia Constantia Zilil</span>

Iulia Constantia Zilil was an ancient Roman-Berber city in Dchar Jdid, located 40 km southwest of Tangier and 13 km northeast of Asilah. It was one of the three colonias in Mauretania Tingitana founded by emperor Augustus between 33 and 25 BC for veterans of the battle of Actium.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Iulia Valentia Banasa</span> Ancient Berber-Roman city in Morocco

Iulia Valentia Banasa was a Roman-Berber city in northern Morocco. It was one of the three colonias in Mauretania Tingitana founded by emperor Augustus between 33 and 25 BC for veterans of the battle of Actium, on top of a Mauretanian village. The site was in fact already occupied by the local Amazigh people from the 4th century BC, or perhaps earlier.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Roman roads in Morocco</span>

Roman roads in Morocco were the western roads of Roman Africa.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thamusida</span> Berber, Carthaginian, and Roman river port near [[Kenitra]], [[Morocco]]

Thamusida was a Berber, Carthaginian, and Roman river port that was near the present-day towns of Kénitra and Mehdya in Morocco. Under the Roman Empire, it formed a part of the province of Mauretania Tingitana.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Iulia Campestris Babba</span>

Iulia Campestris Babba is a Mauretanian city created as Roman colony around 30 BC by emperor Augustus. Its actual location is currently unknown, though its existence is confirmed by the literature.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Roman colonies in North Africa</span>

Roman colonies in North Africa are the cities—populated by Roman citizens—created in North Africa by the Roman Empire, mainly in the period between the reigns of Augustus and Trajan.

Gunugus or Gunugu was a Berber and Carthaginian town in northwest Africa in antiquity. It passed into Roman control during the Punic Wars and was the site of a colony of veteran soldiers. It survived the Vandals and Byzantines but was destroyed during the Muslim invasion of the area.



  1. 1 2 L. Mestrius Plutarchus, "15: Sertorius", Parallel Lives , §9.
  2. Dumper, Michael (2007). Cities of the Middle East and North Africa: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 345. ISBN   9781576079195.
  3. Ruiz (2012) , p.  208.
  4. Ghaki (2015), p. 67.
  5. 1 2 Cath. Enc. (1913).
  6. 1 2 Head & al. (1911).
  7. Tingis romana
  8. Princeton: M.Euzennat
  9. Cass. Dio XLVIII 45.3


35°47′N5°49′W / 35.783°N 5.817°W / 35.783; -5.817