dinsdag 30 december 2014




The town Cherchel or Ašrašal lies immediately west of the “Corniche de Chenoua” on the coast of Algeria, about 88 km west of Algiers.

The Greeks named it in antiquity Iol and in Latin it got the name Iulia-Caesarea. The Phoenician name is reconstructed from the Greek Iol -> ’ y - ḥ l = isle of sand. Ps.Scylax’s reference to “the island of Psamathos” suggest the identification with the islet of Joinville as Sand-island. Is what I find in many sources really true? How is it then possible, that I find in the Phoenician and Punic Dictionary by Ch.R.Krahmalkov (OLA 90, Leuven) at page 183 the translation of Phoenician ḥ l = wealth, and not sand! In Hebrew ḥayil = wealth. On the other hand in Hebrew ḥôl = sand. What is right name for Iol?


There is no doubt, that this was a Phoenician trading-post. On the islet Joinville in front of Cherchel was the first occupation found. The excavated relics there are dated to the 5th century BC. Nevertheless it must be at least a century older, because the excavation in Cherchel itself has shown, that there are relics from the 6th century BC (pottery and lamps).

See: Approche d’un collection de poteriès puniques (musée de Cherchel), Akila Djellid, Africa Romana 14 (2000).


After the Carthaginian period Iol becomes the capital of the Mauretan kingdom under Bocchus II as a vassal king during the time of Caesar. The successor Juba II reigns this Roman protectorate from 25 BC – 23 AD and he changes the name Iol in Caesarea. Plinius (NH V,20) and Pomponius Mela (I,30) are mentioning the town. Pomp.mela I,30: ….. after that Iol at the sea, previously unknown, today famous, because it was the royal residence of Iuba and it is called now Caesarea. Juba II had probably the court poet Grinagoras of Mytilene. The king was married with Cleopatra Selene. Iol becomes a great Hellenistic centre. The seaport capital and its kingdom flourished during this period with most of the population being of Greek and Phoenician origin with a minority of Berbers. In the neighbourhood lies the royal mausoleum of Mauretania. It has 185,50 meter in circumference and has a diameter of 60,90 meters. It is now 32,40 meters in height and has a volume of 80.000 m3. Around it are standing 60 Ionic columns.

The cult of Baal Hamon is still attested in the 2nd-1st century BC by a Neo-Punic stele found near the Tenes Gate in the western part of the city. Steles from the Roman times, dedicated to Saturn, were uncovered in the same area, showing the continuity of the Punic cult in a sanctuary that certainly comprised a tophet.


In 40 AD follows the annexation by the Romans and Caesarea becomes the capital of the province Mauretania Caesaraea. Meanwhile an uprising by Aedemon is surpressed. Emperor Claudius (41-54 AD) gives it the status of colonia Aelia Tipasensis. A long aquaduct of 28 km delivers water from the Djebel Chenoun via Aquae Calidae and Sufasar. Caesarea becomes the birthplace of the Roman emperor Macrinus and the Greek grammarian Priscian. The town is now surrounded by 7 km of walls. It covers a surface of 370 ha.

In 238 AD we see the first Christian epitaph from the woman Rasena. Marciana is a Catholic saint. She was accused of vandalising a statue of the goddess Diana. After being tortured, Marciana was gored by a bull and mauled by a leopard in the amphitheatre at Caesarea.

The first known bishop was Fortunatus in the 4th century AD. In 372 Caesarea is burned down by the rebel Firmus. It is built up again. A new bishop comes forward between 372 and 380 AD: Clemens. Around 411 AD Caesarea is a Donatist centre under the bishop Emeritus, but he comes in confrontation with the Catholic bishop Deuterius and Emeritus is exiled. Apocorius is the last known bishop in 484 AD. He is sent away by the Vandal king Huneric.



The most famous one is that of Micipsa (KAI 161) by the end of the 2nd century BC, which attests the presence of a sanctuary to this king Micipsa (148-118 BC). Height: 33 cm, Wide: 22 cm. It is on a marble stone and is now in safety in the Louvre museum in Paris. H.P.Roschinski (Die Mikiwsam Inschrift aus Cherchel) in Die Numider made a translation. The English version could be:

  1. Sanctuary for the “person”, the living, Mikiwsan, the king of the Massylians
  2. who brought justice in the lands, the lord of the kings, who brought well-being.
  3. For him was this memory made at the entrance of the chamber by Yazzam with his gift,
  4. son of Yuzgagasan, son of Bogud, son of Masinisan, the one placed to the gods,
  5. as a honourable memory for exactly the glory of his perfection (and) his mighty rank just like the “building”?
  6. and the priests, who were on all the heights, he assembled for him at that locate(on)
  7. of the building …..[….] with a flame? ..[….
  8. …………………………………[ and
  9. his chiefs he appointed in every settlement; he built in [every] estate [in
  10.  to him belonging densely settled areas a big “building” [ ……
  11. It was made by Ariš, son of Abdo, son (of ……



The grand-nephew (second cousin) Yazzam makes a statue for Micipsa and installs a cult for him in every settlement of the land. The real work on the inscription and/or statue is done by a person with a Punic name: Ariš.


K.Jongeling mentions the three Neo-Punic inscriptions of Iol in Names in Neo-Punic inscriptions, Groningen, 1984:

N1. NSI 56 (NP 130)

N2. KAI 161 (Micipsa)

N3 Dussaud BAC 1924 cxlvi


The last inscription is already translated in 1875 by Joseph Derenbourg in his contribution : “Sur une nouvelle inscription néopunique de Cherchel” (CRAI 19th year, no 3, p.259-266). The English version could be:

  1. A permanent memory to the good, intelligent woman. Rosh erected this monument, daughter
  2. of Abdešmun, son of Azrubaal, for her mother, as a sign of her grief, after was a stele
  3. for the living, husband of her, Azubaal [the younger] was gone… Hodbaal, daughter of Shaklan,
  4. her mother, in order to submit during 50 years on the isle of ḥashbar to the prescribed purification
  5. and she abstained from looking at the water of the reed (kana) and the isle of Dara, to keep herself blessed,
  6. as she also is compensated, the one that passed away on the age of 80 years.


It looks like someone is going to live as a hermit. J.Derenbourg links the isles of ḥashbar and Dara to one of the Canary isles and to the opposite river Darat. This could be doubtful.

See also: L’inscription néopunique, J.G. Février, Cherchel I RHR cxli p.19-25.


Further findings:

Head of marble, statue of Ganymedes, sfinx, head of a woman decorated by elephant, mosaic, milestones.



Itineraria Phoenicia, E.Lipinski, Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 127, Leuven, 2004, p.405.

Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites, R.Stillwell + W.L.MacDonald + M.H.MacAllister (ed), Princeton, 1976, p.413-414.

Die Numider, H.G.Horn + C.B.Rüger (ed), Köln, 1979 p.111-116, 227-242, 488-545.

Caesarea, N.Bensedik + S.Ferdi + P.Leveau, Cherchel, Alger, 1983.

Caesarea de Maurétanie, P.Leveau, Rome, 1984, p.9-13.

De Caesarea à Sherchel, N.Bensedik, Premiers resultats de la fouille du Forum, BAC = Bulletin Archéologique du Comité des Travaux Historiques et Scientifiques n.s.19B (1983/85) p.451-456.

Models of Urban Growth, the Cherchel Excavations 1977-1981, BAC n.s.19B (1983/85) p.457-468.

Vulnérability d’un capitale: Caesarea de Maurétanie, L’Afrique Romana V, Sassari 1988, p.253-269.

Rapport preliminaire sur la fouille du forum de Cherchel, Alger.

zaterdag 27 december 2014





Nowadays Tipaza lies c.63 km west of Algiers on the coast of Algeria. This distance can be done by the Phoenician ships, but it would have been hard labour. A port of call in the middle of this distance would be convenient. Near Zeralda at the mouth of the wadi Mazafran can have been a suitable solution.

The site of Tipaza offers an excellent anchorage for ancient coastal sailing and the Phoenician-Punic presence is attested there as early as the 6th century BC.

We are not really spoiled with Phoenician and Punic finds in the settlements views so far. But Tipasa is very different. Half a library seems to be written about Tipasa. Is that due to the by coincidence many successful excavations, or was there just a big difference in importance between Tipasa and all previous settlements to the east, with the exception of Hippo Regius?


The name:

ṭ p ‘t n (punic), tipasa (latin).

The Punic name occurs on coins (Müller 3.53). It could mean in Phoenician: passage.

The toponym seems to be Libyco-Berber, like all the Maghribine place names in Thi-, Ti-, Tha-, Ta-  and it was probably written: ṭ p ‘ t n, just like the Punic name of Tipasa.

The Latin name Tipasa is mentioned in Itin.Ant.15, Ammian.Marc.XXIX 5,17, Iul.Hon.699, Plinius V.220.

Teffesad (arab) means: badly damaged.


The Phoenician/Punic period.

There is evidence of the existence of a Phoenician/Punic settlement already in the 6th century BC. This settlement was situated west of the old harbor, as was proposed by M.Baradez (1960-62). Here we find a Punic wall around the deep (5-6m) harbor and relics on the nearby isles. In the harbor there is a great cave from the 6th century BC. Maybe an earthquake and/or a tsunami have played here a role. From the 4th and 3rd century BC there are two necropoli assignable with many Ionian and Attic material. One of them lies to the west on a cape and the other to the east of the settlement, also on a cape. No Punic document is available, but on the contrary many (neo-)punic memory-stones. On a distance of 1.5 km there is another small Phoenician/Punic settlement assignable from the 5th-2nd century BC.  Punic Tipasa had relations with Iberia, the Greek world and Italy. The later Roman town has covered most of the Punic relics, but they are still recognizable.


The Mauretania/Numidia period:

This period started at Tipasa by the end of the 3rd century BC under Syphax and Masinissa. In this time we see also the reigns of Bochus II and later Juba II. They are already vassal-kings of the Roman empire. Juba II is married to Cleopatra Selene (daughter of Cleopatra and Antonius). She calls herself Bassilissa. Maybe a nearby mausoleum could one assign to her. It is now falsely named after the Christian women. Pomponius Mela (I,30) mentions a mausoleum of the royal family in this area. By the end of this period Tipasa has to deal with the uprising of Tacfarinas. In 39 AD the son of Juba II is murdered by the emperor Caligula in Lyon and from that time Tipasa belonged to the Roman empire.


The Roman period:

Emperor Claudius gives the town the title Tipasa municipium iuris Latini in 46 BC  according to Plinius (NH V 2.20). Punic live survived however, because to the east of the town near the basilica St.Salsa at Koudiat Zarour J.Baradez found a little open air offering place with anepigraphic steles, altars for offering and vases with relics of nurned victimes. This sanctuary can be dated to 1st – 2nd century AD. Punic cellars to the east of the port came from the same period. Architectural aspects are still punic. A neo-Punic grave (1st century AD) with 150 objects for the offering (knife, ax, cleaver, scissors) were brought to the daylight. This must have been the grave of a priest for the offering (komer).

In 145-150 AD Tipasa becomes the Colonia Aelia Tipasensis. In the 2nd century AD the town had already an extensive circumference of 2.3 km in length. The walls are 1.60m wide and 7-9m high and have rectangular towers. Saturn is known from the late 2nd century AD and that implicates once again that there must have been a sanctuary of Baal Hammon.

1st half of the 3rd century AD: epitaph of Rasina secunda.

1st half of the 4th century AD: Schisma of the Donatists. During Julianus Apostatus (362-363) two Donatist bishops excercise terror with prosecutions. In 371 AD Salsa seems to have saved Tipasa from the rebel Firmus. There are more legends about Salsa. One of them says, that she was a young woman, who throws a snake idol into the sea. The outrageous crowd stoned her and she was casted into the sea as well. But her body comes back from the sea and she is buried in a chapel on a hill above the harbor. Are there more persons with the name Salsa. There has been found a sarcophagus of Fabia Salsa (also a woman), who reached the age of 63 years. The coins found under her cippus show that they come from the time of Constant the Great (begin 4th century AD). We are acquainted with an inscription from Corduba (4th century AD) with the text: praesis prov.Caes.ordini Tipasensium tabulam patronatus optulit (CIL II 2110).


The Vandal period.

In 430/429 AD Tipasa belonged to the Vandal empire. In 455 AD it was forced to pull down at least a part of the walls. By the end of the 5th century AD the Vandals under Huneric introduced the Arrianic religion. In 484 AD we hear of an episcopus Tipasitanus = Reparatus. The secretary of Cyrilla replaces the Catholic bishop Reparatus. The population flees over the sea to Spain. In 523 AD however the Vandal Hilderic allows the restoration of Catholicism.

In the 5th century AD the sarcophagus of Saint Salsa and the adjoining altar is decorated by Polentius.


The Byzantine period.

This period begins in 534 AD. The Byzantines restore the basilica and improve the defense of the town. After this period came the Arab invasion. Tipasa was completely destroyed.


The early excavations:

In 1892 M.l’Abbé Saint-Gérand in Tipasa. See: CRAI 36th year no.2 p.111-114. He finds a lot of Latin inscriptions mostly in the basilica of Alexander rector (=bishop). Some of them concerns about the building of the basilica.

M.Cintas begins here with scientific excavations, followed by M.Baradez around the harbor (1960-62) and M.Lancel (1964-1968). Cintas: Notes sur les fouilles récentes de Tipasa, CRAI 36th year. 1892. p.242. In the west a Christian necropolis was found in which a chapel with 9 graves of “justi priores” just before bishop Alexander.



Impossible to mention all of it. Some important sources:

- Maisons à peristyle. Rebuffat 1969 : villa Fresco’s. c.150-160 AD.

- J.Baradez. Nouvelles fouilles de Tipasa: survivance du culte de Baal et de Tanit au Ier siècle de l’ère chrétienne. Libyca 5 (1957) p.221-276.

- S.Lancel – M.Bouchenaki, Tipasa de Maurétanie. Alger 1971.

P.Cintas. Fouilles puniques à Tipasa, Alger 1949, Revue Africaine 92 (1948) p.263-323.

Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical sites, princeton, 1976 p.925-926.

M.M.Morciano, Tipasa d’Algeria: un esempio di pianificazione antica in: L’Africa Romana X. Sassari 1994. p.403-418.


maandag 22 december 2014




This is the capital of the country Algeria. It is a Phoenician/Punic foundation with the name:

’ y k s m = isle of the owls. In Hebrew that is the name KOS. The Greeks named it Ikosion. Ptolemeus (IV 2,2): ’Iκόσιον. The Romans named it Icosium. Avienus (Ora Mar.428) mentions the town as insula noctilucae = isle of the full moon. In the Arabic language: al-Gaza‘ir / Gazira = isles. This has to do with the fact, that there were several islands in front of the shore, who are now part of the modern harbour. There is a Greek legend concerning the twenty companions (εικοσι) of Herakles/Melqart, who would have founded the town (Solinus XXV 17). P.Scylax mentions in the 4th century BC “the island of Akion, a city and a harbour” after he has mentioned Hebdomus at Rusuccuru. Akion can be a reference to ’Iy-kosim (It.Ant.) on the east coast of Sicily, close to Naxos and that was called Acium in Roman times (Solinus XXV 17).  If this a right connection, than the Naxian sailors came already in the 6th century BC at ’ y k s m and saw the resemblance with Icosion and Akion.


Phoenician/Punic period:

The combination of isles and a promontory is a typical situation for a Phoenician settlement is the statement of S.Gsell. From the Phoenician period we can’t present however no finding at all.


From the Punic period there is more:

- G.Doublet found a neo-punic stele (Musée d’Alger, Paris, 1890, p.67). In the museum of Algiers one can admire a stele with the so-called sign of Tanit. If this is the same as Doublet has found, I don’t know. Another stele comes from the 2nd-3rd century AD dedicated to African Saturn. The Punic stele has a triangular front, a niche and an arcade supported by two columns with Aeolian capitals. In the garden Marengo a sarcophagus of stone came from a cellar in daylight (l 2,39m, h 0,82m). Furthermore findings of an amulet (Anubis) and a golden jewel.


Numidian period:

- 158 punic coins of lead and bronze (c.150-50 BC) -> IGCH 2303 with the name  ’ y k s m and the image of Melqart. Also some coins with the head of a woman (Isis?).

- In a well or pit they have found pottery of black varnish from the 3rd-2nd century BC in the harbour quarter of Algiers. Here we find coins of Cleopatra VII and Cleopatra Selene. Then Juba II governs over Mauretania. A Berber revolt by Tacfarinas damaged the town.


Roman period:

Plinius (NH III,19+V 2,20) mentions a colony of veterans in the period of the Mauretanian kingdom of Juba II and mentions also a deportation: “Further along the coast (from SE Spain) one finds the river Tader, the exempted municipality Ilici and the named golf after that municipality. In this city the inhabitants of Icosium are housed.” The population of Icosium was removed by the Romans and instead it became a colony for 3000 veterans in 29 BC. Vespasianus (69-79 AD) gives the town the Latin law.

There are Roman cemeteries at Bab-el-Oued and Bab Azoun. Blofeld says there are also Roman ruins on the banks of the Savus (Haratob), southeast of Algiers and he thinks this is more the probable site of (Roman) Icosium than Algiers itself. Berbrugger however finds a Roman road at the Rue de la Marine near the port. A lot of Roman findings were made in Algiers:

- inscriptions of Ptolemeus and Lucius Caecilius Agilis

- urn from Calpurnius Martialis, son of Imilis

- stele of a horseman

- cippe of Aconia Lucilla

- mosaics from amongst others the cathedral

- stel of marble from Lucius Ennius Caii

- graves

- columbarium with 19 niches

- lamps of Caius Clodius Successes

- in the necropolis of the Kursaal: inscription of Titus Flavius Sextus of the IIIrd legion. He served 26 years

- pottery

- thermae under the church Notre Dame-des-Victoires

- stele Saturn with the name of Anna Sullae

- inscription Mithras

Christian period:

Christianity started to be worshipped in the late 2nd century AD and in the early 4th century Ad was that the main religion of the local Romanised Berbers. In 419 AD the bishop Icositanus represented Mauretania Caesariensis in Carthage.


In 430 AD the town was conquered by the Vandals, but already in 442 AD an agreement was made between the Roman empire and the Vandals, that the Romans were allowed to occupy Icosium. A century later the town was conquered by the Byzantines. The Arab conquest came in the late 7th century AD. They destroyed the town and reduced it to a small village.



PECS p.403-404: Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites, Princeton, 1976, R.Stillwel and others (ed).

Gsell, HAAN II p.159-160: Histoire Ancienne de l’Afrique du Nord.

J.Cantineau – L.Leschi, Monnaies puniques d’Alger, CRAI 1941, p.263-272.

M.Le Glay, A la recherche d’Icosium, AntAfr 2 (1968) p.7-52 : Antiquités Africaines, Paris.

vrijdag 19 december 2014


The last settlement with RUS in the name is situated on the Cape Matifou or Bordj el Bahri at the NE end of the bay of Algiers on the Algerian coast. In the Phoenician/Punic period it was called: R ’ š – g n y = Cape of the Francolin. In the name we see GUNI (also in Arab and Hebrew).
In Greek: Ptolemeus (IV 2,6) Ρουγόνιον = Rousgonion.
In Latin: Plinius (NH V 2,20) + CIL VIII 9045,9047,9247,9250.
French: Tementfoust + La Pérouse.
Arab: Tamadfous.

Thanks to the efforts of many French military and scholars many antiquities ware dug up:
V.Waille, Découverte archéologique au Cap Matifou (Revue Africaine 41 (1897) p.286.
P.Salama, La colonie de Rusguniae d’après les inscriptions, Revue Africain 99 (1955) p.5-52.
P.Salama, Chronique d’une ville disparue : « Rusguniae » de Mauretanie Césarienne (Bulletin de la Societé Nationale des Antiquaires de France, 1996, p.129-143.
M.Leglay, Saturne Africain, Monuments II, Paris 1966, p.305.
St.Gsell, La basilique de Rusguniae (Algérie) découverte par le lieutenant Chardon (CRAI 44th year, no 1 (1900) p.48-52.

Findings :
- rectangular ruins close to the sea.
- c.100 Punic steles, that were re-used in a Christian cemetery.
- a sanctuary of Saturn (Baal Hammon).
- circular baths
- Christian basilica of 35 x 20 m (4th century AD)
- Mosaics from the basilica and the mosque with fishes, sheep, plants, flowers, inscriptions.
- graves of a bishop and a military man out of the Byzantine period.
- Aqueduct.
- old harbour relic: here under-water archaeology find many amphorae.
- inscription from Cherchell (29/30 AD) recording an offer made to Saturn by a priestess assisted by a woman from Rusguniae.
- inscription for aid of corn by the town of Tipasa.
- a golden piece of Domitianus.
- buckle of a belt.
The Punic findings proof, that there was a Punic settlement in the 4th- 3rd century BC. In the Roman period the town got more important.  Under Augustus the town becomes a Roman colony. We know of a Roman Flavius Nuvel. In the Bizantine period there was a lot of restoration going on. That was done by a magister militum Africae: Flavi Ziperis, tribune. His sarcophagus was almost 2 meters wide. It must have been an extensive person. He had on his head a little ampoule of glass filled with oil. He had two daughters: Patriciae and Constantinae.
There are since 1965 neglecting conditions for the residual ruins. The cultural heritage is at stake. There is a lot of vandalism and pillage going on. The ruins are polluted. Finally they have made a plan to clean up the ruins and measures to protect them. A protection zone of 200 meters is needed. Nothing has come from that, but finally the Algerian government made a law with this decision: Judgment of 12 September 2012. Hopefully this will have some success.

donderdag 18 december 2014



This is Mers el Hajaje, 17 km west of Cape Djinet on the Algerian coast in the vicinity of Zemmouri El Bahri. In Phoenician it is called R ’ š  h b q r. The first word is Rus = Cape. The second part biqar = cattle.  In Hebrew baqar = cattle as well. The word bicari comes also forward in the Libyco-berber language. Combined it means Cape of the cattle.
Ptolemeus (IV 2,2) and the Itineraria Antoninus (16,2) : Ρουσίβικαρ.
In latin it becomes: Rusubbicar(i), Rusibricari Matidiae, Rusuvicaris.
Itin.Ant.p 16: the place would be 24 millien from Rusguniae in the west.
The remains of the ancient settlement on the hill have never been excavated. No wonder no relics are found so far on this spot. We can absolutely say nothing about the age or character of the settlement in the Phoenician/Punic period, except that the name might be of Punic origin.
There are hardly any messages from the Roman period, except That the place was in the 2nd century BC in possession of the empress Matidia and some Christian bishops in 411 and 484 AD. The Vandals came. The Byzantines restored order. Finally the Arabs came. But there are no shocking events to memorize here from those last period.
In the fabulous Phoenician and Punic Dictionary from Ch.R.Krahmalkov (OLA 90, Leuven 2000) there is nevertheless complete diffusion on page 437. Krahmalkov mentions here R ’ š  k b r  as the Cape grand at Mers al Hajaja. Mention the sequence of the consonants: k b r! Krahmalkov continues to mention Ptolemeus (IV 2.6) with: Ρουσίβικαρ. Mention the sequence of the consonants: b k r! Then comes the latin: Rusubbicari. Mention the sequence of the consonants: b c r! Conclusion: a good book can have mistakes as well, or I understood something very wrong.

woensdag 17 december 2014



This is Cape Djenet between the Oued Isser and the Oued Arbaa on the Algerian coast. In Phoenician it is called k š (y).  We know the name, because there is one Neo-Punic inscription from this place (KAI 170). It concerns h š  k š y (the man from K š y) with the name Derku Adonibaal (d r k  ’ d n b ‘l), member of the assembly of the town K š ( š b ‘ m  l – k š). See: J.L.Laporte, Cap Djinet, une dédicace des Cissitani à Sévère Alexandre, BAC n.s.9B (1973) p.25-27.  D r k is a libyan name (RIL 1098) and Adonibaal is Phoenician. So, the name Derku Adonibaal shows perfectly the symbiosis between the Masaesylians and the Phoenicians in the 3rd century BC on this spot.
In Greek K š y is called κιδδή by Ptolemeus (IV 2,2).  Ps.Skylax seems to neglect this harbour. In Latin the name becomes Cissi in the Peutinger Table, where it is announced as a municipium in the 3rd/4th century AD.
The archaeological findings goes no further back than the 3rd century BC. Some Punic steles are found (J.G.Février, La deuxième stele punique du Cap Djenet, 1954).  A dam has been found at the end of the cape, but this was never studied in detail. Many coins are found from Juba II (IGCH 2308) in the period 25 BC – 23 AD.
Cissi was probably not very important and not very old. From the 3rd century BC to the 5th century AD it stayed the same as a small not so important town.
The meaning of K š y.
In the Phoenician language we find a Phoenician inscription with the name of a person, who is called the Cushite (F.L.Benz, Personal Names in Phoenician and Punic inscriptions, Rome 1972). The same for a Neo-Punic inscription with a man called as a Cushite (Z.S.Harris, A grammar of the Phoenician language, New Haven 1936).  But what has a Cushite (Southern Egypt) to do with a small town on the Algerian coast?  Then there might be a far connection with a town in Catalonia, named Cissis (by Livius) or Kissa (by Polybius), that played a role in 218 BC in the fighting between the Romans and Carthaginians. Probably this is too far to seek and I should not suspect something behind it. Maybe it is just a Libyco-Berber name, of which I don’t know the meaning.
Some abbrevations:
BAC = Bulletin Archéologique du Comité des Travaux Historiques et Scientifiques, Paris.
IGCH = An Inventory of Greek Coin Hoards, M.Thompson – D.Morkholm – C.M.Kraay, New York 1973.


This is nowadays Dellys at Cape Bengut near the mouth of the Oued Sébaou on the Algerian coast. The Phoenician name is probably R ’ š  h q r = Cape of the partridge (in Hebrew qore means partridge) or Cape of the fish (roussoukour).  Another explanation could be, that the name is derivation of the Berber Sekkum > scur> A-scur-um and that means again “partridge”. A last explanation comes from G.Mercier (Note sur l’etymologie du nom Rusuccuru, BAC 1918 1918, p.110). He reads for –uccuru the Phoenician word qrt (qart=city).  M.Euzennat (L’Histoire municipale de Tigzirt. 1955) however points at the double C, which does not corresponds with the Phoenician qrt.
The naming by the Greeks is done by Pseudo Skylax (iii) as ‘Eβδομος = Hebdomos, which means the 7th  (Cape?). Ptolemeus (IV 2,8) calls it Rousoukkour. In Latin it develops to Rusuccuru > Rousekkourt > Rous, Ousekkourt > Asekkourt (Berber). Plinius (NH V 2,29) calls it “civitate honoratum a Claudio”. Martianus Capella describes the place as a Roman colony. In the Bellum Africum (23,1) the place is called oppidum Ascurum (46 BC). Dio Cassius (LIX) and Suetonius Caligula take notice of a rebellion under Aedemon (Phoenician name!), but Claudius restores the order in this region. In the classical traditions the town is mentioned 22 times in 17 different sources.
In the past one has for a long time thought that Rusuccuru was identical to Tigzirt. See: CRAI 30th year no.2 1886: Lettre à M.Héron de Villefosse, sur la position de Rusuccuru par M.Pallu de Lessert. This was done, because Rusuccuru was several times mentioned at Tigzirt in the old inscriptions. Then, a milestone was found near Dellys which indicated a distance of III miles (4.8 km) to Rusuccuru. This find was done 4.5 km west of Dellys. This suggested that the ancient site should be placed not at Tigzirt but rather west under the modern town of Dellys. The argument has not seemed convincing to everyone and a controversy sprung up. The controversy seems to be settled in favour of the Dellys – Rusuccuru identification, because of a dedication was found on Cape Djenet, which mentions the inhabitans of Cissi to the time of Alexander Severus. This implicates the identification of Rusuccuru with Dellys and Iomnium with Tigzirt. See: S.Gsell, Découverte d’une borne militaire établissant que la ville antique de Rusuccuru était à Dellys, BTCH 1912.
- A hoard of Carthaginian coins from the 3rd century BC.
- Neo-Punic steles: A humanized ‘sign of Tanit’ surmounted by the disk and crescent symbol. In another stele the ‘sign of Tanit’ is shown in a tympanon with the crescent and ‘cake-crown’ symbols beneath. In the third Neo-Punic stele we see a funeral inscription. This all shows that a tophet must have been there and a sanctuary of Baal Hammon. From a later period there are also steles, but they are anepigraphic (2nd cent. AD). In the old town of Dellys a memory stone is incorporated in a colonial building of the French period.
- Old walls especially in the west.
- Roman cisterns at Sidi Soussan.
- Roman mosaics.
- A sarcophage.
- Medaljons.
- Amphores.
The last two items come from the hospital and the mosque.
Under Claudius (50 AD) Rusuccuru was an important city, but the meagre archaeological documentation from the Punic period does not prove the existence of a complete Punic settlement.
In the Christian periods we hear of some bishops:
Fortunatus 411 AD
Optatus 411 AD
Ninellus 419 AD
Metcum 484 AD
- Die Numider, G.Horn – C.B.Rüger, Köln 1979, p.572
- Saturne Africain, M.Leglay, Monuments II, Paris 1966, p.302
- Patrimoine – Antique Rusuccuru, SOS Casbah de Dellys, El Watan Arts et Lettres, Dellys, l’Antique Rusuccuru, ville phare de Boumerdès
- BTCH 1898 : E.Babelon, Notes sur un exagium solidorum provenant de Dellys (Alg♪0rie)
- BTCH 1899 : R.Cagnat, Séances de la commission de l’Afrique du Nord : inscriptions romaines découvertes aux environs de Dellys
- R.Dussaud, BAC 1917, p.161. Inscriptions néopuniques d’AAlgérie et de Tunesie : I. Inscription néopunique trouvée à Dellys.

donderdag 11 december 2014



Probably a town, that is identical with Tigzirt 100 km east of Algiers on the coast of Algeria between Dellys and Azeffoun. The Phoenician name = ’y-[’mn?]. It could have several meanings, such as: isle of fastness, isle of the craftman, isle of Amon. In the Greek language (Ps.Skylax) it could have been Ioulios (Ιουλίου), if that corresponds with Iomnium (Ιομνίου). One should reckon here with a scribal error, possibly occasioned by the resemblance of the place name to a Greek word. Since Ps.Skylax generally uses Greek or Graecized forms of place names, ’Іουλίου may have been inspired by ίουλίς, as a red sea fish was called (See: Itineraria Phoenicia, E.Lipinski, p.398). In  Latin the name of the place is: Iomnium. In the Itinerarium Antonini it is called only as a harbour. Ps.Skylax mentions ’ Іουλίου άκρα immediately after Sida and neglects Rusazus, adding that there was “a city and a harbour”. The usual identification of the site with Cherchel/Iol (modern Ašrašal) is not convincing because of the qualification άκρα (=promontory), that hardly suits Cherchel/Iol.
When we however identify Iomnium with present Tigzirt, then the Peutinger Table does not fit at all this allocation!
                            42 miles                                       23 miles
IOMNIUM!                    Azeffoun     RUSIPPISIR??                   RUSAZUS??
The actual distance between Rusippisir (Cape Tedles) and the isle before Tigzirt is only two miles. That is significant, because on the Kabyle coast there is only one island with reasonable measures in combination with a cape and that is in front of Tigzirt. The drawer of the Peutinger Table must have made here a mistake, when he draw the distances to Rusippisir and Rusazus.
Iomnium/Tigzirt is a perfect location for the Phoenicians with an island, a bay, a cape and a small river. The hinterland is protecting this location by difficult accessible mountains. It must have been so, that the Phoenicians used this allocation, but we can’t find anything from that early period, despite 4 years of excavations between 1951-1955.
Is by Iomnium meant only the island or also the mainland (=Tigzirt)? The island is too small for a complete settlement. It has also hardly any anchorage possibilities. The harbour settlement must therefore have been on the mainland. And that is exact the spot where later the Roman town was erected. That is possibly the reason why we can’t find anything from the simple relay station out of the Phoenician period. Even from the Numidian period there are no relics to be seen. Instead we find extensive ruins there with Roman walls, temples, thermae and a basilica at a point jutting into the Mediterranean. What seems to have been the administrative centre of the town is found near the end of this point. It undoubtedly included the forum as well as a very well preserved building and a temple. The beginning of the Roman took place in 147-145 BC with the realisation of a barrack surrounded by a defensive wall to repel attacks. Once peace in Mauretania was restored by the emperor Augustus, the local population built relationships with the garrison barracks, allowing the passage of the military establishment into a civilian village run by judges appointed by the authorities of nearby Rusuccuru (actual Dellys). This period saw the birth of “rich houses” belonging to notable romans. Most of it was however built in the 2nd and 3rd century AD. M.Maurice Euzenat describes them in his publication: “L’Historie municale de Tigzirt, Rusuccuru colonia et municipium” in: Mélanges d’archéologie et d’histoire, 1955 T67) p.126-146. And once again the name Rusuccuru comes forward. That is no surprise because in 1858 an inscription was found by M.Barbier in Tigzirt in which the words “Genius municipii Rusuccuritani” and “Rusuccuritanis, decurio ab ordine allectus” were included. This inscription preserved in situ on the lintel of a temple at Tigzirt stated that the building was dedicated to the tutelary of the municipium of Rusuccuru.
CIL VIII 8995:
Genio Municipii Rusuccuritani
Iulius Rustici fil(ius) Quir(ina tribu) Felix Rusuccuritanius
Decurio ab ordine allectus praef(ectus) pro IIuiris
Atque ab ordine electus IIuiri(m) item IIuiri(m) q(uin)q(uennalium)
Flamen Augg(ustorum III) augur perpetuus deposita ad so
Lum domo sua ueteri templum et statuam su pecu
Nia fecit et dedica[uit]
Of course this is not a solid proof, that Rusuccuru = Tigzirt. The inscription can belong to another town. The ruins of this temple Genio still exists, but it was in fact the curie of the municipium (209-212 AD). Furthermore there was a portico for the performance of holy ceremonies. In Roman times there was a temple for Saturnus: “templum dei invicti Frugiferi”. In and around the basilica were found 50 memory-stones from the 2nd and 3rd century AD. On it one can aware Punic symbols. The population in the Roman period have still Punic names as Barribal, Didosa, Saturninus, Saturnina. There are also local names as Anabus and Iugurtha.
CIl VIII 20715
In this inscription it is stated, that Annia and Julius Felix are married and that they call themselves Rusuccuritani! This is the period, that the tribe Anni lived on the cape (Taksebt) and the tribe Gesii lived in the harbour-settlement (Tigzirt).
The town was now administered by an elected board from the population. In the early 4th century AD – with the expansion of Christianity – was ordered the construction of a Christian church near the older basilica. The old basilica has three naves with galleries over the aisles. There was a baptistery of polyfoil plan to the NE. Nearby public baths and an ornamental mosaic can still be seen. Inscriptions and statues are found scattered in the modern town.
The Vandals conquered temporarily the town, but the Byzantines in 533 AD expelled them en reinstated the roman way of life. In the 6th century Iomnium was nothing more than a hamlet. The arrival of the Arabs destroyed however partially the hamlet, but until the 8th century the hamlet survived as a small community of Romanised Berbers and some Christians. Iomnium disappeared after the 10th century AD. From Iomnium only the island with cactuses, wild olives and figs remained and of course the name Tigzirt, that in the Amazigh language signifies “Island”.