Nowadays Gigel or Jijel is situated on the beginning of the Corniche Kabyle on the Algerian coast. In antiquity it is called Igilgili by the Romans (CIL VIII, 8369). Polybius (III,33,12) mentions it implicitly as one of the Metagonite towns where Hannibal conscripted in 219/218 BC a army of 4000 foot-soldiers to enforce the defence of Carthage, but it is not sure, that he meant this region. It could have been more to the west around the
Igilgili is situated on a low peninsula, which could have been an island in antiquity and that could be the name for the place in Phoenician: ’y-glgl(t). ’y = island. The second part of the name could mean “skull”, derived from Hebrew gulgolet or from gulgull(at)u (akkadisch). The last derivation stands for “circle of dressed stones”. Another explanation from the name comes directly out of the Phoenician language. The letters glgl mean “wheel” in Phoenician and galgal in hebrew. We have some inscriptions:
RES 907A: bdmlqrt bn ‘nn <p‘l> glgl: Bomilcar, son of ‘nn the wheel(maker).
EH 48.1/2: ḥmlkt <p‘l> hglgl: Himilco the wheel(maker).
So finally ‘y-glgl(t) means : island of the wheelmaker?
The last explanation can be a Berber solution: Ighil-Gili = hill of exile.
Could it have been the “Kaukakis’ who Ps.Scylax has used on his journey along this coast? The occasional Greek rendering of g by k gives possibilities as Gunugu or Gilgil?
Explanations of the name:
Island from the skull
Island of the wheel-maker
Island with the circle of dressed stones
Hill of exile
In the 19th century many graves were robbed from the five necropolis that there were around Igilgili. Finally P.Alguier undertook some structural research-work: “Tombes phéniciennes à Djidjelli (Algérie), Revue Archéologique,
, no.31 (1930) p.1-17. » He studied
the graves I – XII. He was followed by
M.Astruc who published « Nouvelles fouilles de Djidjelli” , Revue
Africaine no.80 (1937) p.199-253 and a sequel in Revue Africaine, Alger no.92 (1948) p.273-274. She studied the graves
XIII – XXIX.She dates the graves from the 6th-4th century
BC. These are simple burial pits and some of them are hewn in the rocks, where
they found Punic ceramics. Paris
P.Cintas made a comment on these excavations (Revue Africaine no.92 (1948)) and comes to another conclusion: “The uncovered material rather dates from the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC since even the shape of the black glazed chalice, found in one the tombs, and the rose impressed on its bottom are identical with those of the chalices dating to the 3rd century BC.” Another group of graves are found in cellars, where shafts are used as an entry to the rectangle chambers. The entries are shut by slabs. The grave goods are amphorae, jewelry and pottery. Here were also many incinerations. They can be dated to the 3rd and 2nd century BC.
The Punic necropolis of Rabta on the Pointe Noire and on the beach Bou Saâdoune until 2 km
west of the peninsula is now a looting paradise. There is nowhere any protection and
everywhere we can see a complete pollution. Nobody cares about the importance of this so
important site, except for Karim Hadji, who made a beautiful contribution for Archeo-Jijel.
You can read that in the French language on: www.jijel-archeo.123.fr
Many tombs are gone especially between Mers Chara (Picouleau) and the cemetery Musulman and those of Hdjiret Ghoula. The necropolis Mundet Afria is situated in the midst of public buildings. Here they want to make an archeological parc near the village Mustapha. The necropolis Point Noire (Rabta) is threatened by urbanisation and by the sea. From the originally found 100 cellars are now only 10 left. The necropolis Marsa Charaâ is situated between the Arab cemetery and the sea on a slope. From the originally 200 graves there are a tenth now left. This was a peculiar necropolis, because it was reserved for dual graves (man+woman) and for families. We see a diversity of forms. There were 3 antropomorphe graves. The graves were constructed in the direction ZW -> NO. The graves of Hdjiret Ghoula and near
are flattened. It is so sad to watch how the five necropolis were are still
demolish. It was one of the most important grave-yards in fort Dusquesnes .
Igilgili must have been a important Punic settlement. Algeria
In the 2nd and 1st century BC Igilgili belonged to divers Numidian and Mauretan kingdoms. Many Carthaginians has fled to this area and contributed to culture and welfare.
Plinius (V 21) posts: Igilgili becomes a Roman colony by Augustus. The Romans left an aquaduct and baths with Dionysiac and ornamental mosaics and sculptures (satyr head), statuettes (f.i.Statue of bronze of a standing man with cane), lamps and votive stelae. The Roman walls are now disappeared by either te sea or by several invaders, who reused the stones. The Romans left also several inscriptions, such as Baebius (beginning Roman colony), tribe Zimizes (128 AD), Gordiano (1 mile stone from Igiligili), boudery mark with the name of Igilgili (235-238 AD). Furthermore: a coin of the emperor Philippus (244-249 AD) with a picture of holy games on the other side.
There are hardly any traces of the Vandals and some of the Byzantines.