Roman Emperors Dir Roman Legions

DIR Logo

The Military Occupation of North Africa in the Late Republic

and Early Empire through the reign of Hadrian (A.D. 138).

Thomas H. Watkins

Emeritus, Western Illinois University

Adjunct professor of History, Virginia Tech

1. Introduction and Background: (See Map 1)

The Nature of the Evidence

We are immediately confronted by a paradox. The literary sources mostly pertain to the Republican period, i.e. to the death of Caesar, but this article is mostly concerned with the Empire, i.e. from 30 B.C. onward. For the Republic we have Livy's and Polybius' histories of the Second Punic War (218-201); Appian's Libyca for the Third (149-146); Sallust's Jugurthine War for the late 2nd century B.C.; the anonymous author of the African War included in the corpus of Caesar's writings for the struggle in 48-46; scattered passages in Plutarch's lives of Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Caesar and Cato Minor; sections of Appian's Civil War down to 36 B.C. and in Dio Cassius (often in the medieval Byzantine excerpts); bits in the geographies of Strabo and Mela and book 5 of Pliny the Elder's Natural History. No writer provides comparable narrative information for the Empire: in the Annals and Histories Tacitus referred to Africa only so far as he deemed it relevant to his major concerns of imperial politics, and the same is true of Cassius Dio and later writers such as Eutropius and Orosius. Only Tacitus narrates the revolt of Tacfarinas in A.D. 17-24, though nobody now is quite sure why he chose to give it such prominence (see Part 3, below), but he does not inform his readers of decisions to locate the headquarters of the Third Legion at Ammaedara (Haidra) and then to shift it to Theveste (Tébessa).[[1]]

But this paradox need not cause despair, for archaeology and epigraphy provide a partial rescue. Some sites have been abandoned since Roman times, allowing archaeologists to work unhampered by modern inhabitation. As a consequence, Africa provides the richest harvest of inscriptions in the Roman Empire, perhaps 250,000 in all: dedications of construction projects, milestones and tombstones.[[2]] The spread is uneven, as military sites (particularly Lambaesis) provide more inscriptions than civilian locations, there is a sharp numerical swell in the early 3rd century followed by a steep drop, and the texts are disproportionally funerary.


The accompanying maps are adequate but not detailed. The best atlas is R. J. A. Talbert, ed. The Barrington Atlas of the Classical World, but it is most likely to be found only in major libraries. The Michelin, Hallwag, and Baedeker road maps are excellent and denote most of the major Roman sites with special archaeological symbols. A list of Roman sites and their modern equivalents is given below, preceding the Bibliography.

Broadly speaking, we are here concerned with the Maghreb, an area that stretches from the Atlantic coast on the west to the east coast of Tunisia some 1400 miles to the east, another 500+ to Benghazi, and from 50 to 300 miles from the Mediterranean coast southward to the edge of the Sahara. The Atlas mountains and their offshoots, particularly the Aurès, run roughly southwest-northeast. Rome sought to control what she regarded as the agriculturally-valuable lands. In the High Plains and Steppes, where one could reasonably expect at least 4 inches of rain per year, growers mastered the techniques of dry farming and produced enormous yields of olives; in the Tell, where rainfall averages 16 inches, farmers grew great quantities of wheat. Many maps show the so-called 100-mm. and 400 mm. isohyets.

This is a vast region, and it is impossible to overemphasize that Rome held it with a strikingly small garrison: a single legion of 5,500 men if at full strength and probably not over 25,000 auxiliary troops.[[3]]  It is also vital to stress that there was never a sharp frontier in the south. Roman control slowly diminished. Once the conquest was complete, the Roman army's mission was to keep the region quiet and regulate the movement of the semi-nomadic, transhumant natives from their lands beyond the Roman frontier zone. It was never a matter of keeping these people with their flocks out of Roman farmland, but rather of controlling the timing and routes they took.[[4]]

About this Article:

Readers should be clear as to the topical, geographical and chronological boundaries of this study: the military occupation of what is now Tunisia and eastern Algeria through the reign of Hadrian which ended in A.D. 138. This is not a narrative history of the entire period and social and economic matters appear only incidentally. Rome never showed as much concern for the security of either Tripolitania (western Libya) or Mauretania (western Algeria and Morocco) as she did for Africa Proconsularis. Although Rome's primary military force in this immense region, Legio III Augusta, moved its headquarters on several occasions, these base camps were always in Proconsularis. Detachments (vexillationes) of the Third and even another legion (as IX Hispana in the 20s A.D.) sometimes operated outside this core area, but the hiberna of III Augusta were invariably in the uplands southwest of Carthage.[[5]] Scattered auxiliary units rather than the legion were the permanent garrison of Tripolitania and Mauretania, and this reliance on second-grade troops symbolizes the value Rome placed on these lands. That is to say, we will have relatively little to say of the army and its activities outside the heartland of Roman North Africa.[[6]] Further, Egypt and Cyrenaica (eastern Libya) are entirely excluded from the present study.

Any chronological terminus is to some extent arbitrary and inaccurate, as history does not have sharp breaks. In defense of A.D. 138, one can stress that by that time the imperial government had moved III Augusta to Lambaesis, where it remained thereafter, had encircled the Aurès Mountains and built the major military roads, and had established a series of frontier works to regulate the movement of the semi-nomadic peoples to the south and west of the lands Rome controlled.[[7]]
Further, the Severan period in the early 3rd century saw considerable shuffling of troops, a strengthening of the garrison in Tripolitania, and an overall emphasis on the military that points toward the Late Empire. In brief, the centuries after about 200 can conveniently be set aside for separate treatment elsewhere.

2. The Initial Stages: to the Death of Caesar, 44 B.C.(See Maps 1 and 2.)

Rome, Carthage, and the Numidian Kingdom to 146 B.C.

The extension of Roman power to North Africa arose directly, but gradually and reluctantly, from the titanic conflicts with Carthage which began in 264 B.C. A narrative of the Punic Wars is out of place here, and reliable accounts are readily available elsewhere.[[8]] A few points are necessary as background for the imperial period. First, the costs to Rome in manpower and money were enormous.[[9]] Second, at the conclusion of the wars, Rome was the dominant power in the entire Mediterranean basin and had no rivals at all in the western half of it. Third, Rome was well on the road to becoming a true empire, as she acquired her first possessions outside Italy, the provinciae of Sicily, Sardinia-Corsica, Nearer and Farther (or Citerior and Ulterior) Spain, and Africa and was involved in Numidia as well.

While acquisition of glory and fame was a long-established feature of Roman culture, particularly among the aristocracy where it was closely tied to the advancement of political careers,[[10]] the government was a reluctant imperialist when lands outside Italy were at issue. Especially in the early centuries of empire, when Rome assumed direct rule over foreign territories at the conclusion of a war the reason was not so much that she wanted them for herself as that she did not want the defeated enemy to continue in possession or try to regain them and thereby recover. Alternatively, Rome feared that some other power might attempt to meddle in what had become her sphere of interest. Instead of annexation, Rome sometimes rewarded allies with grants of land taken from their shared and now crushed foe. And of course combinations of these policies were frequently employed. Treatment of defeated Carthage illustrates Roman policies well and leads us into Africa in the imperial period.

Following victory in the First Punic War (264-241), Rome imposed stiff monetary penalties (not the issue here) and deprived Carthage of her possessions close to Italy, keeping about three-quarters of Sicily for herself and presenting most of the rest of it to her faithful ally king Hiero of Syracuse. About the same time she seized Sardinia and Corsica and thereafter governed them as a single province. Note, however, that Rome did not confiscate any of the Carthaginian homeland or demand the surrender of her commanders. At the end of the Second War in 201, Roman conduct was similar. As before, Rome imposed heavy financial indemnities, expelled Carthage from its overseas possessions (which became Rome's two Spanish provinces), declined to confiscate any of the Carthaginian homeland for herself, left Hannibal free, and rewarded her allies, notably king Masinissa of Numidia. One new feature must be noted. The peace treaty of 201 stipulated that Carthage could neither wage offensive wars nor defend her remaining African possessions without permission from Rome. This clause proved fatal.[[11]]

Like Hiero of Syracuse in the previous generation, Masinissa is an excellent example of a client king. His rivalry with and eventual triumph over Syphax, as well as his dramatic love affair with Sophonisba, are part of the larger story of the rise of P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus and Rome's ultimate victory. We can be brief. Masinissa provided a cavalry force that was vital in Scipio's campaigns of 203-202, notably at the decisive battle of Zama. In return, Scipio formally recognized him as king and presented a scepter or staff (scipio) in token of his sovereignty. Thus Numidia became a client state, part of the emerging Roman imperium.[[12]]

The borders of Numidia were probably never clearly defined. It is not simply that Masinissa was shifty, greedy and ambitious, he was certainly all three but rather that the semi-nomadic Numidians were not accustomed to thinking in terms of fixed territorial limits or obedience to any central authority. Masinissa ruled an indeterminate conglomeration of Berber tribes living west of the Carthaginian state: it was up to him to make this sprawling assemblage into a kingdom. This he did with considerable success, and we can point to three major themes. He sponsored the growth of real towns as market centers and nuclei of royal control, chief among them his favorite residences at Cirta (Constantine) and Zama Regia (west of Siliana). Second, he fostered the growth of settled agriculture and with it the slow emergence of a monetary economy which would gradually replace his people's traditional semi-transhumant lifestyle. Third, at every possible opportunity he pushed eastward, nibbling away at lands which Carthage still owned but by the terms of the treaty of 201 could not defend militarily.

As the years went by, repeated border "incidents", Rome's biased verdicts on appeals for permission to fight or at least to obtain a just arbitration, and Roman fears over Carthage's economic recovery combined to cause the outbreak of the Third Punic War in 149. Three years of warfare ended with the total destruction of the city of Carthage, the formal cursing of its site (but not, apparently, a ceremonial sowing of salt), and Roman annexation of Carthage's territory as the new province of Africa.[[13]]

The Early Years of Provincia Africa, 146-100 B.C.

Rome's decision to confiscate the lands of her greatest enemy as a new province is an obvious milestone in the history of North Africa. For the first time Rome was irrevocably committed to a permanent official presence on the southern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The decision was far from rapacious imperialism, as Rome sought to limit her commitment to the absolute minimum. She gave the westernmost stretches of Carthage's lands to king Micipsa of Numidia, who had succeeded Masinissa in 148. Seven towns which had sided with Rome received a valuable reward: they were declared autonomous and exempt from taxes, which essentially rendered them enclaves within the province; one of them, Utica, became the official residence of the provincial governor, a senator of praetorian rank who held office for a year. Rome annexed roughly 5000 square miles, delimiting the province's western boundary with a trench which snaked across the countryside from Thabraca (Tabarka) on the Mediterranean to Thaenae (near Sfax) on the Gulf of Gabès. This is the fossa regia, "royal ditch"; its course is known from stone markers erected during a resurvey carried out in 74/75 A.D. The name is rather a mystery, but can best be understood in the sense that the king (of Numidia) was henceforth to stay to the west of it;  his days of encroaching on Carthage were over.[[14]]

As of 146 B.C., then, Rome had an African province and the province had a border and a governor. We have reached the first stage in the development of the Roman frontier. But we cannot say much about it. Rome was so little interested in these lands that a century passed before she paid it much attention. The province did not have a permanent garrison and few Romans or Italians took up permanent residence. Gaius Gracchus sponsored a colony (colonia Junonia) near the cursed site of Carthage in 122, and while some colonists took up their allotments the colony fizzled when the authorizing legislation (the lex Rubria) was cancelled in 121. A decade later an agrarian law confirmed the colonists' ownership of their lands.[[15]]

Micipsa died in 118 and left Numidia to his two sons, Adherbal and Hiempsal, and a nephew, Jugurtha. Within a few years Jugurtha proved himself a case study of what a client king should not be, as he eliminated his cousins, ignored arbitration by several Roman senatorial embassies, and massacred a number of Italians and Romans resident at Cirta. The ensuing Jugurthine War of 112-105 is more important for its ramifications in Roman political history, the corruption of the ruling nobiles, the rise of Gaius Marius,  and the appearance of Sulla, than for the development of the African frontier: it was mostly a guerrilla war, with few set battles and the Romans chasing the wily king all over the countryside. Sallust's monograph has caused the war to be disproportionally famous. Jugurtha was taken prisoner to Rome and executed in early 104. He had no direct successors and the royal line descends from his brother.[[16]]

The Jugurthine War affected the frontier only marginally; we can note two points. First, Rome declined to annex more land, and for good reason. At the time the real crisis was a threatened invasion of Italy by the Germanic Cimbri and Teutones: Roman armies suffered a string of defeats in 113, 109, 107 and a catastrophe in the lower Rhone valley at Arausio (Orange) in October, 105. Trying to extract Rome with as little further involvement as possible, the Senate opted to leave the frontier where it had been since 146, at the fossa regia, and selected Jugurtha's obscure brother Gauda as the next king. His grandson was Juba I, and at his death in 46 the kingdom was abolished and incorporated into Rome's empire by Caesar. But before we turn to Caesar, however, we need to note the second legacy of the Jugurthine War.

Marius was the military hero of the war, though his former patron and commander Q. Caecilius Metellus (cos. 109, procos. 108) disputed his claim and styled himself "Numidicus" as proof of his own valor, and Marius' quaestor Sulla boasted of having brought the war to a conclusion by capturing the king in late 105. No matter. Marius (cos. 107 and procos. 106-105) was the greatest commander of the day and was promptly elected to repeated consulships in 104-100 to face the barbarians in Gaul and North Italy. In 103 (less likely, 100) the tribune L. Appuleius Saturninus passed a land law by the terms of which some of Marius' veteran soldiers received grants of land around Uchi Maius in Africa. There is no way of knowing how many veterans benefited, and the number is not especially important.[[17]] The striking point for us is that these towns were well west of the fossa regia; they were outside the province and inside the kingdom of Numidia. (See Map 2.) The settlers received their allotments by government grants, so they are quite different from businessmen and adventurers who entirely on their own took up residence around the Mediterranean. Settlement of the Mariani implies a limited commitment to an advance of the frontier. Africa was the scene of some fighting in the struggle between Marius and Sulla (whose henchman Pompey campaigned here), but there was no change in the frontier so we can now move to the policies of Julius Caesar.

Julius Caesar and Africa, 46-44 B.C.  (See Map 2.)

The civil war which erupted when Caesar crossed the Rubicon in early January, 49 soon spread to Africa. Many prominent "Republicans" who refused to accept the verdict of the battle at Pharsalus in the summer of 48 gathered in Africa to continue their fight for the cause. A number of the African towns sided with them. Pompeius Magnus of course was not there, since he had fled to Egypt and been murdered by the advisors of Ptolemy XIII; but his two sons Gnaeus and Sextus were present for a time. M. Porcius Cato is the most famous of the die-hards now and may have been so then. Among the others we can note the nominal commander Q. Caecilius Metellus Scipio (cos. 52, Pompey's former father-in-law), T. Labienus (Caesar's legate in the Gallic Wars), M. Petreius, Faustus Cornelius Sulla, L. Afranius, and the provincial governor of Africa, Attius Varus. Joining them was King Juba I of Numidia. Political necessity, not principles, motivated him: the Caesarian tribune C. Scribonius Curio in 50 had proposed the annexation of Numidia, so the king became an anti-Caesarian. For a time he seemed to have chosen well, as he killed Curio in a battle in 49. For all those named, the decision was fatal, later if not sooner; for the towns, it was extremely expensive.[[18]] Joining Caesar's side and profiting greatly in the end was the colorful Campanian condottiere P. Sittius, hitherto a sort of military advisor to the kings of Mauretania, Bocchus and Bogud.

Having brought some stability to Egypt, Asia Minor and Rome in 48-47, the dictator Caesar set out for Africa in late 47. Sittius invaded Numidia from the west, which compelled Juba to withdraw his forces from the Republicans so as to protect his own kingdom. This relieved some of the pressure on Caesar, who crushed his enemies at Thapsus in the spring of 46. On learning of Caesar's victory Cato committed a particularly gruesome suicide; Metellus Scipio tried to escape by sea but killed himself to avoid capture by Sittius' fleet. Sittius dispatched Faustus Sulla and Afranius. Labienus and Varus made it to Spain, but were killed at Munda the next year, as was Gnaeus Pompeius. Of greater relevance here, Juba was killed in a double assisted suicide or death pact with Petreius.[[19]] The consequences for Africa were enormous.

Caesar abolished the kingdom of Numidia. Instead of adding it to the existing province he converted it into a new one, Africa Nova, which surrounded the former province, now known as Vetus ("Old") and remained confined east of the fossa regia. Nova extended from its border with Mauretania at the Ampsaga (Kebir) river far to the southeast to the region known as Tripolitania, so called because of the three cities which dominated it (tres poleis, Sabratha, Oea and Lepcis Magna: see Maps 3 and 5). This area along the shore of the Syrtes Gulf had been of little interest to the Roman government and individual Romans so far. It had been nominally subject to the Numidian kings and had supported Cato when he marched his Republican army through it from Cyrenaica to Numidia in 48/47, so with the dissolution of the realm it fell to Rome. Caesar levied a stiff fine on Lepcis Magna and other towns and incorporated the region into Africa Nova.[[20]] The first governor of Africa Nova was C. Sallustius Crispus, who scandalously plundered it and then retired to write history. His successor was T. Sextius in 45-42. In Vetus we find C. Calvisius Sabinus in 45 and then Q. Cornificius 44-42.[[21]] As for the Numidian royal family, Caesar took Juba's only heir, a toddler also named Juba, to Rome. Within a few years the boy wound up in the household of Caesar's great-niece Octavia.[[22]] Juba thus grew up surrounded by the imperial princes and princesses: Tiberius and Marcellus (born in 42), Drusus (born 39), two Marcellas, Iullus Antonius, and the two Antonias (Maior and Minor).

Caesar rewarded his friends as liberally as he punished his foes severely. Sittius profited handsomely, as he received a large block of territory around Cirta. Although this "principality" was surrounded by Africa Nova, Sittius was to have been practically an independent sovereign. He distributed land to his followers; inscriptions reveal many Sittii all through the area and the so-called Cirtan "confederation" flourished for roughly a century and a half. (Around 110 A.D. Trajan broke it up and granted colonial rank to Cirta and four other towns: (see Part 4.) Sittius himself was killed in the confused fighting in 44-43.[[23]]

One other aspect of Caesar's policies toward Africa must be noted. He founded four colonies on the Cap Bon peninsula: Carpis (Korbous), Clupea (Kelibia), Curubis (Korba), and Neapolis (Nabeul). It is possible that there were other colonies and non-colonial settlements as well which lie undiscovered or lost their identity on being absorbed into later towns. More important, he took up Gaius Gracchus' old idea and founded a colony adjacent to the site of Carthage. Departing from centuries of Roman colonial policy, he attached to Carthage the lands assigned to the recipients of grants under the legislation of Gracchus and Saturninus (i.e., Marius' veterans). The effect of this was that Carthage had an enormous and probably discontinuous territorium or pertica (administrative district) which even extended into Africa Nova.[[24]]

In summary, then, Caesar did not spend much time in Africa; he left for Rome by the summer of 46 and never returned, but his policies revolutionized the Roman commitment to the area. For a century Rome had paid minimal attention  to her African province. Henceforth, Rome had two African provinces which covered a great expanse of territory and included a number of formally-founded colonies and were attracting a growing number of settlers, particularly ambitious businessmen and owners of large estates producing for the Italian and Roman markets. These provinces now had to be protected, and that required commitment of military resources and a more developed sense of a frontier. Many Berber peoples opposed the increasing Roman presence; and the sources speak of much warfare in the following years and for the first time a standing garrison.

3. The African Frontier in the Reigns of Augustus and the Julio-Claudian Emperors,

40 B.C.-A.D. 69. (See Maps 3 and 3a.)

The Creation of Africa Proconsularis and the

Early Years of the Province

The history of Rome in the years after Caesar's death in 44 is extremely complicated. In spite of the efforts of moderates to keep a fragile peace, civil war broke out over the winter of 44-43 and endured with intervals of uneasy quiet until 30. In the first few years Africa was the site of its own vicious but localized war between T. Sextius and Q. Cornificius, the governors of Nova and Vetus respectively. The primary narrators of these years, Appian and Dio Cassius, were mostly interested in the drama of Antony's initial dalliance with Cleopatra and the increasingly nasty squabbles between him and Octavian and paid minimal attention to Africa, so we can reconstruct only a bald outline of what happened.

By early 42 Sextius had won both the war and the title of imperator and Cornificius was dead: that is round one.[[25]])In the meantime, in Italy the leaders of the Caesarian faction had put aside their differences and come together in the Second Triumvirate: M. Antonius, M. Aemilius Lepidus, and Caesar's adopted son C. Julius Caesar Octavianus. They defeated the faction of the Republicans or Liberators at Philippi in October, 42; Cassius and Brutus committed suicide. The triumvirs then divided up the provinces among themselves. Africa fell to Octavian, who sent in Q. Fuficius Fango. Sextius dutifully turned over both provinces to him, but, loyal to Antony and regarding Fango as Octavian's man, he remained in Africa. In 41 Antony urged Sextius to expel Fango, which he soon did. Fango's allies fell away or were killed, and he retreated to the mountains and committed suicide by early 40. Once again, Sextius governed both African provinces: round two.[[26]]

At the end of 40, Lepidus himself took up the governorship of the Africas. He brought six legions, picked up Sextius' four, and recruited six more within a couple of years. The treaty of Brundisium in 39 confirmed his status. Sextius disappears from the record. Unfortunately, very little is known of Lepidus' tenure of Africa, which lasted until the fall of 36: round three. He is said to have broken up or at least severely damaged Caesar's colony at Carthage. He did not bother the other foundations, so the suspicion is that Lepidus as Pontifex Maximus may have used religious scruples to justify his harsh treatment: the colony had in some way violated the curse.[[27]] True, the turmoil of civil war is not a fair test of his designs and its viability, but the distinction between Vetus and Nova was proving a failure. Lepidus governed both provinces as, for that matter, had Sextius and Fango. Admitting that certainty is unattainable, it looks as though Lepidus himself formally consolidated the two provinces into one, and that henceforth there was a single Africa which from 27 B.C. onward was called Proconsularis.[[28]] Lepidus fell from power in the fall of 36, and from then on Octavian controlled Africa.

Many historians argue that the provinces were combined as part of the so-called Settlement of 27 B.C., customarily taken to mark the opening of the reign of Octavian (who became Augustus at this time) and thus the birth of the Empire period.[[29]] In the long run, of course, and in terms of the development of the frontier, the nine years 36-27 do not make much difference, but a summary of the case for a date 40-36 is worthwhile. There is no sign of the two-province arrangement after Cornificius' demise. All known governors were of Africa as a single entity. Three of Octavian's generals celebrated triumphs ex Africa: T. Statilius Taurus in 34, L. Cornificius in 33 or 32, and L. Autronius Paetus in 28. In 32 the apparently united province of Africa took the oath of allegiance to Octavian as dux for the Actian campaign.[[30]] In conclusion, then, probably from 40/36 B.C. there was one province of Africa and it extended from Arae Philaenorum at the eastern end of Tripolitania and the border with Cyrenaica to the Ampsaga river, beyond which lay Mauretania.

Mauretania itself is worth a quick glance, as events there also affected the emerging frontier. The client kings Bogud in the far west and Bocchus adjacent to Numidia-become-Nova were dead by 31. The status of the realm until 25 is unclear. No rulers are known and Octavian (Augustus from 27) was too busy to give it much thought. In these years, however, he founded a series of colonies along the Mediterranean littoral and the plain at the northwest tip of the continent. (See Map 3a.) This is highly peculiar. These colonies were not in a Roman province. In 25 Augustus gave Mauretania a king and queen: Juba II, son of Juba I (d. 46 B.C.), and Cleopatra Selene, daughter of Antony and Cleopatra of Egypt. The colonies were still an administrative oddity: inside a foreign kingdom but presumably exempt from the king's powers and ultimately dependent on the distant proconsul.[[31]] Settled by veterans, the colonies were probably supposed to help shore up Juba's control of his restless subjects for a few years (until the settlers got too old) and he was to reciprocate as best he could. As appears below, this experimental arrangement proved unsuccessful in the long run. Juba and his successor Ptolemy were unable to provide stability within their kingdom and in the late 30s A.D. Ptolemy was removed from the throne and the kingdom abolished by 43. That in turn led immediately to the annexation of Mauretania as two Roman provinces.

Legio III Augusta

It is universally recognized that the Roman army became a professional fighting force in the Empire: soldiers served for long terms, were paid regularly, and took oaths of allegiance to the emperor; provinces received permanent garrisons and (at least marginally) better government as Rome accepted responsibility for the administration and protection of the empire she had been acquiring since the 220s B.C. The core of the African army was legio III Augusta, in the first years of the empire commanded by the provincial governor, the proconsul of consular rank. (In the reign of Caligula this changed: see below.) Straightaway, however, we face a problem: where was the Third Augusta's hiberna, literally its winter quarters but in effect its home base, under Augustus and his immediate successors?

Raised by Pansa in 43 or Octavian in the crisis of 41, III Augusta was in Africa by 30 B.C.[[32]] By the end of Augustus' reign in A.D. 14 the principal base of the legion was Ammaedara: construction crews were building a road from the hiberna to the port of Tacapae in that year, and the road points to Ammaedara.[[33]] Excavations adjacent to the later colony and modern town have apparently located the fortress specifically at the junction of the two main streets, gates, and lengths of wall. The site was at first an area of 25-30 acres, or between half and two-thirds the size of a full fortress, and was built late in the reign of Augustus, after the Gaetulian War ended in 6/7.[[34]] If only five cohorts were here, where were the other five? One was on rota at Carthage as escort for the proconsul, so we need to find forts for four more cohorts, and this is a problem as they could have been stationed as a block or scattered in two or four small forts. Mattingly has suggested a "vexillation fortress" "for a few years ... somewhere in the region" of Tripolitania, but he does not guess a place. LeBohec has made a case for a portion of the legion being at or near Sicca Veneria, which was a road junction.[[35]] There is no archaeological evidence for a fort, and Sicca was an Augustan colony, which could also explain the roads. For this reason it seems possible that a portion of the Third was stationed for a few years somewhere a bit farther west, in the old Numidian kingdom and closer to Cirta; Madaurus (M'daourouch) is attractive. If these proposals are correct, then we must envision III Augusta broken up so as to anchor a screen around the western and southeastern fringes of the old province of Proconsularis and well within the boundaries of the consolidated Vetus plus Nova. Auxiliary units must have filled in some of the gaps between Sicca, Ammaedara and Tripolitania.

The fortress at Ammaedara was later expanded to at least 40 acres, maybe 50, enough to house most of the legion, all of it at a squeeze. Perhaps the expansion came around 24/25, when the war against Tacfarinas concluded. Any cohorts previously in Tripolitania likely left when IX Hispana arrived in 20 and were not sent back when the Ninth departed in 24. Any around Sicca or elsewhere in the north could have moved to Ammaedara at the same time. The legion stayed here until transferred to Theveste in 75 (see Part 4). At that point, Vespasian used the decommissioned fortress for a colony, as was frequently done elsewhere. Given that Vespasian founded another colony at Madauros, one wonders if a fort for a couple of cohorts might not lie undiscovered there rather than at Sicca. Only archaeological discoveries can settle the point. What we can say, then, is that by 14 Ammaedara was the hiberna of III Augusta, the base camp for at least half the legion and the location of its principia or HQ building and praetorium or legate's residence. Legio III Augusta was the only legion in Africa west of the Nile and remained Africa's garrison thereafter, probably the most stationary in the empire.[[36]]

The Gaetulian War (3 B.C-A.D. 6) and the

Revolt of Tacfarinas (A.D. 17-24)

In spite of a number of campaigns in the early years of Augustus, culminating in the celebrated campaign of L. Cornelius Balbus in 20-19 B.C. against the Garamantes and other native peoples loosely labeled Gaetulians by the ancient writers who didn't bother with careful distinctions among the countless tribes, Africa remained an unquiet province. In fact, there was far more fighting in this supposedly peaceful land than in any other senatorial province. Many tribes were unwilling to accept the fact of Roman imperial rule or subordination even to Juba of Mauretania. Ethnically Juba was himself of native stock, but culturally he had "gone Roman" and this combined with his Roman backing condemned him in the eyes of some of those whom he was supposed to rule. Fighting broke out again in 3 B.C., spread all across the ill-defined southern reaches of Roman Africa but was evidently heaviest in Tripolitania, and lasted until 6 A.D.: the so-called Bellum Gaetulicum.[[37]] Rome suffered initial reverses but soon recovered. One of the commanders may have been Sulpicius Quirinius, best (but wrongly) known as legate of Syria at the time of the birth of Jesus. L. Cornelius Lentulus died while proconsul in A.D. 1. His successor, L. Passienus Rufus, won ornamenta triumphalia in 3. Within the next year or two Juba cut short his stay in Cappadocia and hurried back to be of assistance in the war against the Gaetulians.[[38]]

At some point Legio XII Fulminata (perhaps a detachment rather than the whole legion) provided reinforcements to III Augusta; when it arrived is not clear, but it stayed through the final victory. After Cossus Cornelius Lentulus won,  he tactfully declined excessive honors; his son perhaps presumptuously took the honorific name Gaetulicus and came to a bad end in the reign of Caligula.[[39]] Rome punished the rebels by confiscating parts of their land and by increasing her troop presence in the vicinity, possibly stationing a detachment of III Augusta somewhere in western Tripolitania.

The eight years of fighting against Tacfarinas are perhaps better considered a revolt rather than a war because the action took place within Proconsularis and the client kingdom of Mauretania. Rome neither conquered new territory nor fought beyond the vague frontiers. Tacfarinas himself was at least partly Romanized as he had served in the auxiliaries and may have had citizenship; in these respects he is similar to the other notable rebels of the day, Arminius the German chieftain and the Gauls Julius Florus and Julius Sacrovir.[[40]] Tacfarinas was a Musulamian, and the Roman settlement, roads and military garrisons had been encroaching on and slicing through his people's lands. The road from Carthage through Sicca to Cirta ran along the northern edge of the tribe's territory, and that from Ammaedara to Theveste cut through it. Anger at the growing and apparently limitless Roman presence had doubtless been building for years and carried over from the Gaetulian War. Tacfarinas provided leadership, a charismatic personality, and familiarity with Roman military operations. A defeat at the hands of the proconsul Furius Camillus in 17 taught him a lesson the hard way. Thereafter he avoided set battles and ranged far and wide across the interior.[[41]]

The heartland of the insurgency was the area around Ammaedara, precisely where Rome had recently established the principal fortress of III Augusta. Rome doubtless felt that the Musulamii needed close supervision, and the natives equally doubtless got yet angrier at the conquerors. Fighting in the next few years showed that Legio III was going to have a tough time. Probably still often divided into two or even three vexillations, the legion could either garrison the towns or strike at Tacfarinas if it could catch him, but not do both simultaneously. There was too much territory to cover and heavy infantry was too slow. Even with its more mobile auxiliaries, the Third needed help. In 20 the emperor Tiberius sent IX Hispana from Pannonia to garrison Lepcis Magna and presumably Oea and Sabratha as well against raids by the Garamantes.[[42]] If a couple of cohorts from the Third had been in Tripolitania, they could now join the rest of the legion and concentrate operations in the Musulamian homeland.

Another point is relevant here. The client rulers of Mauretania had been unable to keep the revolt from spreading into their own lands. Aged 65 in 17, Juba II was probably too old to take the field effectively and his heir Ptolemy, associated as co-regent from 17, was evidently no general.[[43]] All the more reason to concentrate III Augusta in the area from Ammaedara to the upper Bagradas valley and let IX Hispana protects the eastern flank.

We do not need to follow the fighting. A succession of proconsuls directed operations with varying results. Two won ornamenta triumphalia (Camillus in 17 and Junius Blaesus in 22) and a third had at least as good a claim but political considerations prevented the award (P. Cornelius Dolabella in 24, denied so as not to diminish the glory of Blaesus, uncle of the powerful praetorian prefect Sejanus). Tacitus provides highlights, not a continuous narrative, and he jumps from place to place in such a way that we cannot follow developments; of course, guerrilla warfare has no clear fronts or theaters. Fighting was kept well outside the old fossa regia and thus away from the richest part of the province.[[44]] In one interesting description Tacitus tells us that the legate Scipio fought the Garamantes in Tripolitania while Blaesus' son protected Cirta and Blaesus himself screened the swath of land between his subordinates (Ann. 3.74). In 24 Cornelius Dolabella pushed Tacfarinas far to the west and surprised him at Auzia (Souk el Ghoziane). In the battle Tacfarinas committed suicide by rushing headlong into a hail of missiles.

The chief consequence of the Tacfarinan revolt for our purposes is that it revealed both the ongoing high level of native refusal to acquiesce in Roman rule and the inability of the Mauretanian client kings to do what was expected of them. Juba evidently died near the end of the fighting, as in the immediate aftermath, in the ancestral fashion (vetusto more) senators were dispatched to Ptolemy to recognize him as king and bestow rewards (an ivory scepter or scipio, deliberately recalling the scipio which Scipio Africanus gave to Masinissa way back in the closing stages of the second Punic War, and a toga picta, antiqua patrum munera).[[45]] Without doubt, however, we can infer that these same senators delivered a stern message to the new king: Rome expected a higher level of military competence. Ptolemy either didn't take the message seriously or was simply unable to perform up to expectations. Fifteen years later he was removed.

Legio III Augusta: from proconsul to legate

A peculiarity of Proconsularis, noted above, is that the proconsul whom the Senate appointed was also the commander of the province's military, the most important component of which was of course the Third Augustan legion. Caligula terminated this anomaly, but in doing so he created another one. He removed the legion from the proconsul and assigned it (and the auxiliaries) to an officer of his own choosing, called a legate. The new emperor was young at his accession (only 25), untrained for the job, totally uninterested in the work of imperial administration, and in no sense a military man. One wonders, in fact, whether old Tiberius might have had the shift from proconsul to legate on his agenda and never got around to it. There is no hint of this in the sources and Tiberius was isolated and in a steady mental decline his last years, but none the less he had had enormous military experience under Augustus and might have thought the transfer of command a wise act. The precise date of the changeover is not known. If Caligula did it soon after becoming emperor, say in 37, we might feel more confident in attributing the decision to Tiberius' plans than if the change belongs as late as 40.

In any case, Caligula removed the proconsul and replaced him with a legatus. The difference is this. The proconsular governor of Africa was a senior senator, who had held the consulship some years earlier, often as many as ten, so he could easily be in his early 50s. The legate was also a senator, but a much younger one, of praetorian rank. His hopes for promotions were at the emperor's discretion. In this sense, the change brought Africa into conformity with standard practice: legionary commanders were all imperial appointees, with the title legatus Augusti pro praetore legionis (-), "propraetorian legate of the Emperor of legion (-)." A legate's imperium, power of command, was thus specifically defined as inferior to the "greater proconsular power", imperium proconsulare maius, of the emperor (the Augustus). The governors of the other senatorial provinces, all of them called proconsuls, did not command legions; the only province that had status comparable to Africa's was Asia, perhaps the most peaceful province in the entire Empire. Conversely, all legionary legates were the emperor's men, which left the emperor as clearly the commander-in-chief of the imperial military establishment.

Caligula created a fresh anomaly, perhaps a double one. Because the emperor did not alter the provincial borders, the proconsul continued to be responsible for the civil administration of all lands to the border of Mauretania at the Ampsaga river. The legionary legate was his subordinate in civil and judicial matters, just as he was the emperor's subordinate in military matters. In effect, however, the legate was a governor and the military zone, Numidia but also the southern portions of Tripolitania, was a province in all but name.

Caligula's motivation for this change is uncertain, as is the date. If scholars could attribute a sense of responsibility and maturity to him, it would be tempting to think he was concerned to increase administrative efficiency. After all, Proconsularis was a vast province and one could not expect the proconsul to direct the civil government, tour the province to hold court at regional centers, and command an army which had had to cope with more or less constant native unrest and several large-scale revolts. Besides, proconsuls generally held office for only one year, which was frequently militarily inefficient. Legates served at the emperor's pleasure, though a three-year appointment soon became standard. The ancient sources, however, attribute a far more mundane reason to the suspicious emperor: fear. Caligula was perversely fond of insulting individual senators and the Senate as a body, but he was also insecure and mentally unstable. He was afraid of possible consequences if high-ranking senators, particularly those whom he regarded as personal enemies, governed wealthy provinces which contained armies. So he simply deprived the prestigious proconsul of Africa of his troops. The move simultaneously belittled the Senate.

Tacitus (Hist. 4.48) says Caligula feared M. Junius Silanus (cos. 19) and removed the legion from him while he was proconsul in 36-39. (Proconsuls normally served for one year, but even if extended the term ran for twelve months from mid-calendar year.) Dio Cassius (59.20) reports that the emperor was afraid of L. Calpurnius Piso (cos. 27) and took away the legion before he took up his governorship. There probably is something to this. With good reason Caligula was wary of plots against him, and he may well have disliked and feared both of these men. Silanus' bloodline and marriage tied him closely to the imperial house: his wife was an Aemilia Lepida, and her mother was Julia Minor,  Augustus' granddaughter. Aemilia Lepida's brother was himself involved in the poorly understood conspiracy of Lentulus Gaetulicus in 38. A second branch of the Junii Silani produced cousins to Marcus who were consuls in 10 and 15, another one in 28. Silanus could easily be seen as the front for an anti-Caligula coup. The family was exceedingly prominent and ill-starred, as a number of its members met untimely demises under Caligula, Claudius and Nero who felt them too close kin for comfort.[[46]] Piso was the son of the Cn. Piso and Munatia Plancina who were popularly believed to have been behind the untimely and suspicious death of Caligula's father Germanicus in 19 and the humiliation suffered by his mother Agrippina the Elder at the hands of Tiberius, Livia and Sejanus. It may well be that we can combine Tacitus and Dio by arguing that Caligula removed the legion from the proconsul at the end of Silanus' term and before Piso arrived. It's a tangled mass of hypotheses and nothing can be proved. It is not even certain that Piso was the immediate successor of Silanus, whose term ended in the summer of 39, and Piso's may not have begun until the following summer. There may have been one proconsul in between them.[[47]]

One other point needs to be considered. We have seen that the change from proconsul to legate cannot be more closely dated than sometime between 37 and 40. Another of Caligula's decisions affecting Africa cannot be precisely dated: he summoned the client king of Mauretania, Ptolemy, to Rome in 38 and sometime thereafter had him executed. Does an underlying policy connect these moves? The ancient sources do not mention one, and nobody has ever credited Caligula with long-range administrative planning. Ancient writers were more interested in scandal and misconduct than in policies which never got wide publicity anyway: the public at large did not care about proconsuls and legates in distant Africa. Modern historians, with wider interests, tend to see things differently. Installed in 25 B.C., the rulers of Mauretania had never performed up to expectations during the various wars, and Rome probably felt their shortcomings had contributed to the difficulty in suppressing Tacfarinas in the period between 17 and 24. In all likelihood Rome planned to annex Mauretania in the not too distant future, and Caligula simply speeded up the process by eliminating Ptolemy rather than waiting for him to die. Once Mauretania was part of the Empire, Rome would be responsible for establishing and maintaining the peace all the way across to the Atlantic coast. Clearly the proconsul of Africa could not do this; better to give military responsibilities to a separate person. But this supposition does not get rid of difficulties for us. Rome did not shift the HQ of III Augusta westward and did not send in another legion for the Mauretanian frontier. Because Caligula was assassinated before the formal annexation occurred, the final decisions were those of Claudius'  government in 43/44. The old client kingdom was divided into two provinces which were assigned to equestrian procurators and garrisoned by auxiliaries. (For all this, see the following section.)

The End of the Client Kingdom and the

Annexation of Mauretania, A.D. 38/40-43

"The circumstances under which Mauretania was incorporated within the Roman Empire are notoriously uncertain."[[48]]

The outline of events is not a problem. Ptolemy succeeded his father Juba II in 23 or 24. From March of 37 the emperor was Caligula, a cousin-once-removed to the client king. (Both descend from Mark Antony: Ptolemy's mother was Cleopatra Selene, daughter of Antony and Cleopatra of Egypt; Caligula's father Germanicus was the son of Antonia, daughter of Antony and Octavia.) In 38 or 40 Caligula ordered Ptolemy to come to Rome and executed him some months later. Caligula himself was killed in January 41, the first imperial assassination, and followed by Claudius. The new emperor's generals Suetonius Paullinus, Hosidius Geta and Licinius Crassus put down the revolt of Aedemon, defeated Moorish nomads deep in the Atlas, and annexed the kingdom. By 43 or 44 Claudius had established the provinces of Mauretania Caesariensis (capital at Iol Caesarea) and Tingitana (at Tingi). The governors were equestrian procurators, not senatorial proconsuls or imperial legates, and auxiliaries provided the garrison: these were not to be very important provinces.

The precise chronology and Caligula's motivation are much debated. If not incompetent, Ptolemy was certainly not distinguished as a ruler or sufficiently tactful where the infamously suspicious Tiberius and Caligula were concerned. He issued gold coins but should have confined himself to bronzes and the occasional silver. Caligula may have thought he was involved in the (obscure) conspiracy of Gaetulicus, and once in Rome Ptolemy was careless in wearing a purple robe. Ptolemy's fate was unique, as no other client king was executed. When Rome took over a client state the normal technique was to do so on the death of a ruler, or alternatively to depose and exile the king.[[49]]

Ptolemy's fate aside, however, Roman annexation of his sprawling kingdom roughly doubled the length of the frontier in Africa. From 43 on, Rome and not a client ruler was responsible for security from the Ampsaga river westward to the Atlantic coast. Note, however, that Rome left legio III Augusta at Ammaedara, deep within Proconsularis. As noted above, in 37-40 Caligula had removed the legion from the command of the proconsul and replaced him with an imperial legate. A direct connection between change in command and annexation of Mauretania cannot be demonstrated. Scattered auxiliary units were to suffice for the two new Mauretanian provinces. Further, Rome never pushed very far inland from the Mediterranean in Caesariensis, where urbanization was confined to the coastal colonies (See Map 3a), and never occupied the Atlas and Rif ranges in Tingitana, only the coastal plain and straits. Tingitana always had closer ties to Baetica in southern Spain than to Caesariensis.

4. The African Frontier in the Reigns of the Flavians and Trajan, A.D. 69-117. (See Map 4)

The reigns of the three Flavian emperors, Nerva, and Trajan extend for almost a half-century, and taken together they form a coherent period. In the 70s Vespasian initiated and his successors continued a policy of careful but decisive expansion to the west and southwest. Decisions we can attribute to Trajan are pretty clearly the completion of ideas that originated under Vespasian. The army did not simply advance and leave a vacuum in its wake: development of the frontier zone accompanied expansion. By the death of Trajan in 117 Rome had moved the fortress of III Augusta about 120 miles from Ammaedara west to Lambaesis. To encourage settlement of this huge area now open to development Rome had founded at least seven coloniae, raised several other towns to colonial rank, granted a number of other towns the status of municipium, and was well on the way to linking these places to one another and to the already developed portion of the province through an expanding network of roads.[[50]] As appears in Part 5, Hadrian rounded off these developments in the period between 117-138, for convenience treated as a separate stage.

No ancient writer describes this achievement; Tacitus' Histories are lost after a few chapters of book 5; the missing seven and a half books must have contained passages on the campaigns in Africa, and may have mentioned the colonial foundations as well. Suetonius was not interested in provincial affairs. Dio Cassius is extant only in Byzantine excerptors. Contemporaries were probably unaware of Rome's accomplishments in Africa and would not have understood their historical significance had they followed the course of events. Archaeological and epigraphical discoveries provide the basis for modern reconstruction of developments.[[51]]

The Civil War of 68/69

The so-called "year of the four emperors" was the first civil war in the Roman world since the great upheavals of the 40s and 30s B.C. On that occasion, as noted above, Africa had its own private civil war in the period between 44 and 40, a nasty but localized contest at the core of which was T. Sextius. We find a sort of reprise in 68/69. The legionary legate Clodius Macer revolted against Nero in the spring of 68, but when he thereafter refused to cooperate with Galba, the latter had him eliminated, and that ended round one.[[52]]Otho replaced Galba in January of 69, and Africa accepted him as emperor. In return, he granted unspecified nova iura, presumably fiscal or judicial privileges. Otho lasted but four months, as Vitellius' army eliminated Otho's in north Italy. Africa smoothly geared over to the new emperor and accepted without initial difficulty as proconsul L. Calpurnius Piso. This we can call round two. Troubles quickly loomed on the eastern horizon, where T. Flavius Vespasianus, special commander of the Roman armies against the Jewish revolt since 66, was proclaimed emperor in July. Vespasian had been proconsul of Africa in 62/63 and the little we know of his administration is that he had not been wildly popular.

The legate of III Augusta, Valerius Festus, saw an opportunity to influence history and profit personally. He calculated that Vitellius would not ultimately prevail in the Empire at large, and, boldly taking the lead in swinging Africa over to Vespasian, arranged for the assassination of the proconsul. This left Festus essentially in charge of Africa and enabled him to cut off the grain convoys to Rome just as Vespasian was doing from Alexandria. By December Vespasian's armies had won possession of all Italy and eliminated Vitellius: Rome had a new emperor. In 70 Festus drove his army against the Garamantes who had been attacking Lepcis. Vespasian rewarded his African supporter swiftly and handsomely with a full complement of military decorations and a suffect consulship in 71, followed by provincial governorships. Round three ends the civil war.[[53]]

The Flavian Advance

Rome had not extended her holdings in Africa in many years: the war that accompanied the annexation of the Mauretanian client kingdom in 43 was almost the only fighting since the suppression of Tacfarinas in 24. Once Vespasian was certain of the province's security and loyalty, he turned to expansion in about 75. As a preliminary he ordered the specially appointed legate C. Rutilius Gallicus and the legionary legate Sex. Sentius Caecilianus to resurvey the old fossa regia.[[54]] Nobody is sure why he did this, as the fossa had not been a provincial boundary since the amalgamation of Vetus and Nova in the period 40-36. (See above in Part 3.) One purpose may have been to establish the eastern limits of the legate's powers. The proconsul had at least nominal authority all the way to the Ampsaga river, but the legionary legate was de facto governor in the old province of Nova: perhaps it was deemed wise to clarify how far eastward his competence extended. Gallicus, who was of consular rank (suffect sometime 70/72) when he came to Africa, was active in Tripolitania in 74, where he determined the boundary between Lepcis Magna and Oea.[[55]] In 75 Caecilianus, now a special propraetorian legate of both Mauretanias, strove to bring order to these often restless lands.[[56]]

In the mid-70s legio III Augusta moved from Ammaedara to Theveste (Tebessa), possibly the first fortress large enough to hold the entire legion as Ammaedara would have been a tight fit (see above). This is a very short move, only about 25 miles, though nowadays it takes one across the Tunisian-Algerian border. The old, now decommissioned fortress became Colonia Flavia Augusta Emerita Ammaedara; as the name indicates, it was specifically for veteran soldiers (emeriti). Simultaneously, Madaurus (M'daourouch) became Colonia Flavia Augusta Veteranorum. A road linked Theveste to Hippo Regius on the Mediterranean just as in 14 a road went from Ammaedara to Tacapae.[[57]] All of this finds a close parallel in Britain. In the early and mid-70s legio II Augusta moved from Glevum to Isca (Gloucester to Caerleon)  only about 40 miles; and IX Hispana moved from Lindum to Eburacum (Lincoln to York) about 50 miles. Within a few years both old fortresses became colonies.

Immediately after the Third Augusta was housed at Theveste, the army established a string of auxiliary forts westward along the northern face of the Aurès mountains: Vazaivi, perhaps Mascula or Aquae Flavianae, and in 81 at Lambaesis where L. Tettius Julianus built a small fort which precedes by 35 or 40 years the legionary fortress.[[58]] (See Maps 4 and 6.) Not long afterwards auxiliary forts appeared yet farther west, at Verecunda (Markouna), Lamasba (Merouana), Diana Veteranorum (Zana) and Auzia. Taken together, these forts screened the lands to the north which were undergoing rapid settlement and agricultural exploitation. The towns around Cirta were flourishing and in the 90s Nerva founded colonies straddling the border between Proconsularis and Caesariensis at Cuicul (Djemila), Sitifis (Setif), and a site whose name is only partially preserved as Mopth... (at Mons between the first two).[[59]]

In the other direction, along the fringe of Tripolitania the Flavians may have constructed auxiliary forts to watch over the Nygbenii, one of the Gaetulian tribes, near the Chott Djerid.[[60]] By roughly 100 a line of forts and a military road extended from Tacapae to Auzia, over 400 miles.


Little is known of military dispositions in this long tail of Proconsularis which projected roughly 600 miles eastward to Cyrenaica, and the reason is apparently that there is little to know. Only the immediate hinterland of Lepcis Magna and Oea receives enough average annual rainfall to make possible the cultivation of cereals with dry-farming techniques, but a much larger area is suitable for olive orchards. The production of huge quantities of olive oil was the basis of Tripolitania's wealth, which grew steadily from Augustus' reign onward. After the conclusion of the war with Tacfarinas in A.D. 24 the frontier was relatively quiet until nearly the end of the second century. There may have been a vexillatio of III Augusta at an as-yet-undiscovered fort in Tripolitania for a few years. Legio IX Hispana, sent to protect Tripolitania from Tacfarinas' attacks in A.D. 20, returned to its base at Siscia (Sisak) in the middle Sava valley of Pannonia in 24. Valerius Festus, the perhaps shifty legate of the Third who had secured Africa for Vespasian, drove the Garamantes and Nasamones away from Lepcis in 70.[[61]] Another campaign in the 80s abolished the power of the Garamantes and brought over a hundred years of peace.

There is strikingly little archaeological evidence for forts and linear barriers, here called clausurae, but serving the same purpose as the Numidian fossatum. Recall the shifts in the headquarters of legio III Augusta: from Ammaedara to Theveste in the mid-70s and 44 years later to Lambaesis. In other words, the legion withdrew any detachments that may have been there from Tripolitania and moved its base westward, away from the region. The reason is obvious: the legates must have judged that Tripolitania did not require any legionary troops. We can also assume that any transfers of the legion came with the consent of the emperor, who with the exception of Nerva (96-98) were all men with much military experience.

The Reign of Trajan

M. Ulpius Traianus became emperor in January, 98 and governed for almost 20 years. His policies and achievements in Africa are a continuation of those of his Flavian predecessors. Indeed, he almost completed them, and his successor Hadrian had little more to do than tie up the loose ends and smooth off the rough edges in his two decades as emperor. These emperors were almost a single dynasty anyway. Trajan's father had been one of Vespasian's trusted generals and administrators; Trajan's mother Marcia was sister of the Marcia Furnilla who was briefly the wife of Vespasian's son Titus. The elder Trajan's sister Ulpia was the paternal grandmother of Hadrian, and Hadrian's wife Sabina was the maternal granddaughter of Trajan's sister Ulpia Marciana. All of which is to say that Trajan and Hadrian were cousins-once-removed by blood and Trajan's great-niece was Hadrian's empress.

This may well be confusing to moderns, but it is neither trivial nor unimportant. In the year 100 Trajan had the legate of the Third Augusta, L. Munatius Gallus, found a colony at Thamugadi (Timgad). The town's full name, Colonia Marciana Traiana Thamugadi, commemorates the new emperor's parents and recalls their ties to Vespasian's family; its location demonstrates his commitment to continue Flavian policies in Africa. (See Maps 4 and 6.) The colony is sited almost at the end of the road and line of forts from the legionary headquarters at Theveste west along the northern edge of the Aurès to Lambaesis.[[62]] At the time of the foundation, the colony was relatively exposed, so the government must have judged the natives reconciled to Roman rule. Lands to the north soon became a center for the cultivation of wheat and olives. The natives had already developed dry-farming techniques; the Roman contribution was to provide a monetary economy, markets, and protection from migrating and sometimes marauding nomads from farther south.[[63]] The Aurès to the south were sparsely populated. Troops at Mascula some 35 miles to the east and Lambaesis about 12 miles to the west provided whatever protection was needed for the colony's first years. Thamugadi is a strategic site, and it stands at the head of the Oueds el-Abdi and el-Abiod, but there is no proof that a fort preceded the colony.[[64]]

During Trajan's reign and quite likely in stages spread out over a number of years rather than in a single move, legio III Augusta acquired a new fortress at Lambaesis. The precise date is not known and many experts are content to say that the transfer may not have been completed until early in the reign of Hadrian, say by 120.[[65]] This transfer advanced the legion's headquarters about 100 miles due west from its previous fortress at Theveste, and the implications for the frontier are noteworthy.

For one, the legion was henceforth much farther from Tripolitania than previously, so no significant threats were expected from that quarter. For another, the legion was now much closer to the permanently troublesome peoples of the Hodna and Atlas mountains of Mauretania. It anchored protection for the entrepreneurial native farmers and the growing number of Roman towns, especially the colonies at Thamugadi a few miles to the east, at Cuicul, Mopth... and Sitifis roughly 70 to 80 miles to the northwest, and Cirta 60 to 65 miles to the north.[[66]] Third, Lambaesis, backing up on Djebel Askar ("Mountain of the Soldiers") at the northwest corner of the Aurès and at an altitude of about 4000 feet, guarded the head of the El Kantara pass which led to the semi-desert lands south of the mountains. This was the most important of the routes through the Aurès. As appears in Part 5, Hadrian took additional steps to regulate traffic in and along these passes. Fourth, the legionary legate at Lambaesis was now roughly 300 miles from the proconsul at Carthage, so the move greatly increased his operational independence from his nominal superior and speeded up the evolution of "Numidia" into a province.

The career of L. Minicius Natalis, one of the better-recorded legates of III Augusta, provides further indications that Trajan continued the Flavian advance. Inscriptions prove that in 103-105 he initiated Roman control along the southern side of the Aurès range and its extensions toward the Gulf of Gabès. Natalis built a fort at Ad Maiores and a road from Ad Medias by Capsa on to Turris Temellini on the Chott Djerid. Another assemblage of inscriptions manifests his activity in defining boundaries in the area from Theveste to Madaurus between the Musulamii and (a) the people of Madaurus, (b) another tribe, the Tisibenenses, and c) a private owner Valeria Atticilla.[[67]]

As Vespasian had founded a colony at Ammaedara when he moved the legion to Theveste ca. 75, so Trajan founded a colonia in the decommissioned fortress at Theveste forty years later. The foundation date cannot be more closely determined than the reign of Trajan, but this permits us to make a point of some relevance for the date of Lambaesis. The legion must have fully evacuated Theveste before the colonists moved in. Unless we envision the HQ staff and etc. at one or more intermediate stops along the road west, this should mean that the Third Augusta was entirely in its new home by the end of Trajan's reign in 117. Trajan founded a third colony at Thelepte (Feriana) on the old road from Ammaedara through Capsa (Gafsa) to Tacapae.[[68]] Trajan's titular colonies were all in the older part of the province: Lepcis Magna, Lepti Minus, Hadrumetum, Milev, Chullu and Rusicade.

5. The African Frontier in the Reign of Hadrian, 117-138.(See Maps 5 and 6.)

As already noted, Legio III Augusta was based at its fortress of Lambaesis by early in the reign of Hadrian if it had not moved late in that of Trajan. The colony of Thamugadi was founded in 100, far to the west of Theveste but just 12 miles east of Lambaesis. That is to say, since the colony will not have been ahead of protection from the army, at least several cohorts must have been at Lambaesis, perhaps serving as the fortress construction party, by 100. Simultaneously, one or more cohorts may have occupied an intermediate fort along the road from Theveste for a few years, say at Mascula also close enough at 35 to 37 miles to help protect the colony. Perhaps we should envision a shift from the old fortress in stages, beginning with the detachment which occupied the small fort near the later fortress in 81 and concluding with the transfer of headquarters staff and administrative records by, say, 120. The fortress could house the entire legion (although one cohort was regularly detached for ceremonial and other duties with the proconsul in Carthage) before Hadrian visited Lambaesis in 128.

Hadrian in 128 was the first reigning emperor to visit Africa, and this makes a fitting stopping place for our survey of the development of the frontier. The next emperor who toured Africa was Septimius Severus in 203, and his family was from Lepcis Magna. Hadrian's journey through the province was momentous and long remembered. Tradition held that his arrival broke a five-year drought. More relevant to our purposes, he completed a series of modifications in the frontier zone that had been underway since Vespasian's day.[[69]]

The emperor rewarded and encouraged urbanization: five towns were promoted to titular colonies and at least ten were upgraded to municipia. His attitude toward the army was similar. In late June and early July he toured some of the forts in Numidia and made a celebrated stopover at Lambaesis. In the company of the legionary legate Q. Fabius Catullinus (who became consul in 130) and presumably seated under an awning on a temporary tribunal, Hadrian watched various units perform maneuvers on the exercise ground (campus) a mile and a half from the fortress. When they had completed their exercitationes he complimented them on their skills. The speeches fall into the tradition of imperial addresses to the soldiers: the adlocutio of the emperor to his fellow soldiers (commilitones), vital in building and maintaining the loyalty of the army to the reigning Augustus.[[70]] Five speeches survive, albeit incomplete: to the senior centurions (primipilares), legionary cavalry, and auxiliary units; unfortunately that to the legionaries is lost. In commemoration of the imperial visit similar to that of an adventus to towns, the temporary tribunal was monumentalized by paving over the central part of the campus, erecting a column, and inscribing the adlocutiones on the column's pedestal.[[71]] Inscribing the addresses validated them for all eternity; how many people ever read them mattered little.[[72]]

The other aspect of Hadrian's tour to be emphasized here is that, as a few years earlier in Germany and Britain, he personally supervised the initial construction of what is conventionally called the fossatum or, less frequently, limes. (What the Romans called it is not known.) See Map 6. So far as is known, this was four stretches of patrol road, ditch, wall, towers, and gates designed to monitor and regulate the migrations of the semi-nomadic peoples between their summer and winter pastures. As the map reveals, the sections of the fossatum were separate; varying in length from 28 to 90 miles, they were never linked to form a continuous barrier. In other words, the fossatum was intended neither to protect settled farmers inside the empire from raids by outsiders nor to provide unbroken surveillance over the countryside. It was clearly not heavily garrisoned in the fashion of Hadrian's famous wall in Britain or the less impressive palisade with frontal ditch and watchtowers along the Main and Neckar rivers and Taunus mountains in Germany.[[73]]

Hadrian's achievement, then, was to carry through into a coherent system what Trajan may have projected. As Trajan completed the implications of Flavian policies by advancing the legionary fortress to Lambaesis (though perhaps the process was not complete until the first years of Hadrian) and guaranteeing control along the north side of the Aurès, and then went beyond that of the Flavians by staking out a few isolated posts to the south, so now Hadrian completed the encirclement of the Aurès and the eastern Hodna. Trajan had put a fort at Ad Maiores in 105. Hadrian answered with Gemellae (Mlila) in 126[[74]] and in all probability several other forts plus numerous towers and small forts (analogous to the "milecastles" on the wall in Britain). By the 130s the disposition of auxiliaries was likely something like this: along the north slope of the Aurès at Zoui, ala I Flaviana Numidica,at Mascula two cohorts, VII Lusitanorum equitata and II Thracum, and another cohort at Zaraia, I Flaviana; along the southern slope of the Aurès at Lambiridi a few miles west of Lambaesis, cohors VI Commagenorum and ala I Pannoniorum, and at Calceus Herculis (El Kantara) perhaps the numerus Palmyrenorum. Vescera (Biskra) and Calceus Herculis controlled the southern ends of the long passes through the Aurès: the Oued el-Abiod and the El Kantara gap between the Metlili and Belezma mountains to the west and the Mahmel to the east, (the route of Algerian highway 3.) Though garrisons are unattested as early as the 130s, Thabudeos (Tobarta), Thubunae (Tobna),and Cellae (Ain Azel) may have been occupied on occasion. Each segment of the fossatum screened patches of fertile ground around oases along routes of migration.

6. Summary.

Africa was never of major concern in Roman military thought, never one of the senior commands that is to say, not a consular multi-legion post like Syria, Upper Moesia or Britain. Until well beyond the reign of Hadrian, and thus all through the period covered by this article, it was unique. As we have seen, in the Empire Africa began as a senatorial province in which the governor was of consular rank but yet had command of a legion plus whatever auxiliary troops were at hand. While all senatorial governors by courtesy were styled "proconsuls", none of them had command of a legion; the only other senatorial province whose governor was of consular standing was Asia, and its governor seems to have had no troops at all beyond perhaps a honor guard for basic escort duties. For good reason, then, only Africa was designated Proconsularis. In one sense, however, the uniqueness was lost early. When Caligula removed the proconsul from command of legio III Augusta and entrusted the legion to an imperial appointee of praetorian standing, he made the legionary legate a provincial governor in all but name. Numidia remained technically a part of Proconsularis and the legate theoretically subordinate to the proconsul in civil but not military matters. In practice, the legate probably regularly rendered judicial decisions and the proconsul did not intervene. This anomaly remained in effect through Hadrian's reign and until Septimius Severus abolished it in the first years of the third century.

As Cherry has aptly characterized it, the conquest of Africa "proceeded intermittently, in fits and starts" from 146 B.C. and "was in fact largely complete (at least from the Roman point of view) before the death of Hadrian" in 138 A.D.([[75]] We traced this process in the preceding pages and divided it into four stages for convenience. (1) A century of relative indifference and neglect, ending when Julius Caesar annexed Numidia, formed a second African province (Nova) to the west of the original one (Vetus), and refounded Carthage, in 46-44 B.C. (2) Slightly more than a century, the reigns of Augustus and his Julio-Claudian successors, to A.D. 68. In these years Africa received a permanent legion (III Augusta) and an uncertain number of auxiliary units, and the legion, at first apparently spread out in two (perhaps three) vexillations, came to be entirely housed at Ammaedara. Roads joined Ammaedara to both Carthage and Tacapae. In the early 40s the Mauretanian client kingdom was annexed and became the two equestrian procuratorial provinces of Caesariensis (capital, Iol Caesarea) and Tingitana (capital, Tingi).

(3) The time of the Flavians and Trajan, A.D. 69-117. In these years, Rome pushed the frontier southwestward to and then along the northern flank of the Aurès mountains. The fortress of III Augusta shifted a few miles to Theveste and auxiliary units (or legionary vexillationes) established forts as construction crews extended the road on to the west. Trajan initiated control along the southern flank of the Aurès with a road from Turris Tamellini to ad Medias and a fort at ad Maiores. When the military had pulled out of its camps Trajan founded colonies on the decommissioned sites and elsewhere to consolidate Roman possession and encourage development, notably at Thamugadi in 100 but also at Theveste and Thelepte. By late in Trajan's reign a new fortress was being built at Lambaesis. And (4), the reign of Hadrian, which ended in 138. By the time Hadrian visited Africa in 128 the fortress was finished. He seems to have continued Trajan's policy of road plus forts along the southern slopes of the Aurès and himself to have devised the so-called fossatum, designed to regulate the seasonal migrations of the semi-nomadic peoples of the semi-desert Sahara. The post-Hadrianic period saw relatively minor adjustments to the frontier and a complex rearrangement of the garrison's various units, but these alterations fall outside the period of this study.

Only in the East, where the Roman Empire butted up against that of the Parthians, can one speak of a sharp, distinct border. Elsewhere the frontiers were zones, susceptible to expansion and even contraction and where Roman control and lifestyle gradually faded out in contact with shifting tribal kingdoms and confederations. Even where the Romans established a formal, symbolic barrier proclaiming 'This marks the end of our empire: civilization stops here!,' most famously Hadrian's Wall in Britain, Roman power and influence extended beyond that marker. Patrols ranged well past the barriers, and there were certainly traders and spies gathering and transmitting information.[[76]]

Africa illustrates this very well. All along the southern reaches of Cyrenaica, Tripolitania, Proconsularis, Numidia, and the two Mauretanias, there was no sharp delineation of the Roman world. A very small military force maintained relative peace through this immense region. To the south of the lands claimed by Rome lay the lightly populated pre-desert and then the wastes of the Sahara. In overview, here is the situation at the end of Hadrian's reign: The eastern sector, Tripolitania, was practically undefended: two auxiliary cohorts for upwards of 700 miles from Cyrenaica westward to Tacape.[[77]] The western sector, the two Mauretanias, was more troublesome and hence more strongly defended, but Rome never tried to push far inland beyond the coastal plains and never truly ruled the Atlas ranges.[[78]]

Most of the African army was stationed in the central sector, Numidia. With the exception of the few soldiers under the proconsul at Carthage (one legionary cohort on rotation, and the 13th Urban Cohort), all units were under the command of the legatus Augusti pro praetore legionis III Augustae.[[79]] The Roman military establishment in Africa was remarkably small, "designed more for police than for war."[[80]] The one legion in all Africa west of Egypt was at Lambaesis, and if at full strength it had about 5500 men. Individual legionary cohorts or smaller detachments may have been outposted from time to time, but auxiliary units were mostly responsible for the security of this large area. There is much uncertainty as to how many of them were in Africa at any one time and whether any were double-strength (milliaria). As best as can be calculated, there were 3 cavalry alae, 4 or 5 part-mounted cohortes equitatae, and one or two infantry cohorts, and perhaps the numerus Palmyrenorum.[[81]] In effect, the road from Tacapae through Turris Tamellini, Capsa, ad Maiores, ad Medias, Thabudeos, Vescera and Gemellae south of the Aurès massif was the southernmost fringe of the Roman Empire. In Tripolitania the lightly settled inhospitable uplands behind the three great cities held no attraction for the Romans and in Hadrian's day there was evidently no real garrison here. And in the Mauretanias a rather large auxiliary garrison held the coastal plains and Rome mostly avoided the Atlas mountains.

Roman Sites and their Modern Equivalents

The first time that a place appeared in the preceding pages the modern name of the site in parentheses followed. Thereafter the text employed only the Roman form. For the convenience of readers who might choose to use more detailed maps than are provided here the Baedeker, Hallwag and Michelin highway maps of Tunisia and Algeria are excellent and readily available in bookstores, but these do not regularly label all ancient sites, so here is a summary list:

Acholla = Rass Bou Tria

ad Maiores = Négrine/Henchir Besseriani

Ammaedara = Haidra

Ampsaga river = oued Kebir in Algeria

Aquae Flavianae = west of Khenchela

Aquae Calidae = Hammam Righa

Auzia = Souk El Ghoziane [Aumale]

Bagradas river = oued Me(d)jerda

Bulla Regia = Bulla Regia

Calama = Guelma

Capsa = Gafsa

Carpis = Korbous

Cartenna = Ténes

Carthago = Carthage, a northern

suburb of Tunis

Chullu = Collo

Cillium = Kasserine

Cirta = Constantine

Clupea = Kelibia

Cuicul = Djemila

Curubis = Korba

Diana Veteranorum = Zana

Gemellae = Mlili

Gunugu = Gouraya

Hadrumetum = Sousse

Hippo Diarrhytus = Bizerte

Hippo Regius = Bone, Annaba

Icosium = Algiers

Igilgili = Jijel

Iol Caesarea = Cherchel

Lamasba = Merouana

Lambaesis = Tazoult-Lambèse near Batna

Lepcis Minus (or Lepti Minus) = Lamta and

Saiada Bou Hajar

Leptis Magna = Lebda, Homs, near Zliten

Madauros = M'Daourouch

Mascula = Khenchela

Maxula = Radès

Milev = Mila

Muthul river = oued Mellègue

Neapolis = Nabeul

Oea = Tripoli

Rusazus = Azeffo

Rusguniae = Ain Taya

Rusicade = Skikda

Rusuccuru = Dellys

Sabratha = Sabratha

Saldae = Bejaia

Sicca Veneria = Le Kef

Siliana river = oued El-Kebir and Miliane

Simitthu(s) = Chemtou

Sitifis = Sétif

Tacape = Gabès

Thabraca = Tabarka

Thaenae = Tyna, south of Sfax

Thamugadi = Timgad

Thapsus = Rass Dimass

Thelepte = near Fériana

Theveste = Tébessa

Thubunae = Tobna

Thuburbo Maius = near El Fahs

Thuburbo Minus = Tébourba

Thuburnica = northwest of Chemtou

Thubursicu Numidarum = Khemissa

Tingi = Tangiers

Tubusuctu/Tupusuctu = Tiklat

Uthina = Oudna

Utica = Utica

Vaga = Beja

Vazaivi = Zaoui

Vescera = Biskra

Zama Regia = west of Siliana

Zarai = Zraia

Zucchabar = Miliana

A warning. Equivalents can be a bit tricky. French imperial settlers in the 19th and 20th centuries gave French names to many of the Algerian and Tunisian places, but in the years since the end of French occupation these same places have been given or reverted to the Arabic forms of their names.


The epigraphic evidence is scattered and is to be found only in major libraries. Volume 8 of the old Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (Berlin, 1864- )  is fundamental. Newer are Inscriptions Latines d'Algerie (eds. S. Gsell [vol. 1] and H.-G.Pflaum [vol. 2], Paris, 1923 and 1957) and Inscriptions Latines de Tunisie. (Many of the most important inscriptions are in H. Dessau, Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae (Berlin, 1892-1916). These collections are regularly abbreviated as follows: CIL, ILAlg., ILTun., and ILS. Le Bohec and Cherry provide the text of a number of inscriptions: see below. L'Année epigraphique lists new discoveries.

Convenient but less comprehensive collections are V. Ehrenberg and A. H. M. Jones, Documents Illustrating the Reigns of Augustus and Tiberius (Oxford, 2nd ed. 1955); E. M. Smallwood, Documents Illustrating the Principates of Gaius, Claudius and Nero (Cambridge, 1967); M. McCrum and A. G. Woodhead, Select Documents of the Principates of the Flavian Emperors (Cambridge, 1966); and E. M. Smallwood, Documents Illustrating the Principates of Nerva, Trajan and Hadrian (Cambridge, 1966). Where possible I have used the E-J, S, M-W and S volumes; all are indexed for the larger collections.

Astin, A.E. Scipio Aemilianus. Oxford, 1967.

Austin, N. J. E. and N. B. Rankov, Exploratio. London and New York, 1995.

Barrett, A. A. Caligula: the corruption of power. New Haven, 1988. Mostly focused on high politics and personalities; discussion of transfer of command from the proconsul to the imperial legate and the murder of Ptolemy of Mauretania, which he puts in Rome (see Fishwick 1971 for another interpretation).

Benabou, M. La Resistance africaine à la romanisation. Paris, 1976. Controversial thesis that there was nearly continuous native opposition to the Roman conquest and pacification.

Bennett, J. Trajan: optimus princeps. Bloomington, 1997. Overview of the reign, but relatively little discussion of Africa.

Birley, A. R. Septimius Severus: the African Emperor. New Haven, 2nd ed. 1988.

________. Hadrian: the restless emperor London and New York, 1999. Includes a discussion of Hadrian's visit to Africa and the fortress of Lambaesis in 128.

Broughton, T. R. S. The Romanization of Africa Proconsularis. Baltimore, 1929. Old but still valuable.

________. "The Territory of Carthage" Revue des Études Latines 47 (bis) (1969) Mélanges Marcel Durry  (1970), pp. 265-275. Demonstrates that the colony of Carthage incorporated a vast territory which included the pre-colonial settlements, notably those of Marius' veterans.

Brunt, P. A. Italian Manpower, 225 B.C.-A.D. 14. Oxford, 1970.

Cagnat, R. L'Armée romaine en Afrique du Nord. Paris, 2d ed. 1913. Very old and of course superseded by more recent work, but still worth consulting if you can find a copy.

Campbell, B. The Emperor and the Roman Army. Oxford, 1984. Chap. II sec. 5 "Imperial speeches to the army" puts Hadrian's speeches at Lambaesis into their broader context.

Cherry, D. Frontier and Society in Roman North Africa. Oxford, 1998. Valuable overview but more concerned with the social and economic development of the frontier areas than the military as a fighting force.

Cornell, T. J. The Beginnings of Rome. New York, 1995.

Daniels, C. "Africa" pp. 233-265 in J. Wacher, ed., The Roman World. London and New York, 1987. This is the best overview of the enormous Roman frontier zone from Egypt to Morocco, although it appeared two years before LeBohec's monographs on the army.

Elton, H. Frontiers of the Roman Empire. Bloomington, IN, 1996. Broad overview, but a few passages are relevant to developments in Africa.

Fentress, E. W. B. Numidia and the Roman Army: social, military and economic aspects of the frontier zone. BAR International Series 53; Oxford, 1979. To be used with care; experts question many aspects of her interpretation and a multitude of misprints mars the text..

Février, P. A. "Urbanisation et urbanisme de l'Afrique romaine" Aufstieg und Niedergang der römisches Welt II.10.2 (1982) pp. 321-96. More civilian than military in focus, but valuable because of the interaction of the two.

________. Approches du Maghreb romain. 2 vols.; Aix-en-Provence, 1989-90.

Fishwick, D. "The Annexation of Mauretania" Historia 20 (1971), 467-87. Argues that Caligula summoned Ptolemy to Rome and then to Lugdunum where he executed him; the revolt of Aedemon was quickly suppressed and the kingdom annexed by early 42 and divided into two provinces in 43.

________. "On the origins of Africa Proconsularis, I: the amalgamation of Africa Vetus and Africa Nova" Antiquités Africaines 29 (1993), 53-62.

________. "On the origins of Africa Proconsularis, II: the administration of Lepidus and the commission of M. Caelius Phileros" Antiquités Africaines 30 (1994), 57-80.

________. "On the origins of Africa Proconsularis, III: the era of the Cereres again" Antiquités Africaines 32 (1996), 13-36.

Garnsey, P. "Rome's African Empire under the Principate" pp. 223-254 in P. Garnsey and C. R. Whittaker, eds., Imperialism in the Ancient World. Cambridge, 1978.

Gascou, J. "La politique municipale de Rome en l'Afrique du Nord,1: de la mort d'Auguste au début du IIIe siècle" Aufstieg und Niedergang der römisches Welt II.10 (1982) pp. 136-229. Complements the work of Février in the same volume.

________. "La carrière de Marcus Caelius Phileros" Antiquités Africaines 20 (1984), 105-20. An important study of a freedman who rose to high local office under and soon after Julius Caesar.

Goldsworthy, A. and I. Haynes, The Roman Army as a Community.Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplementary Series 34 (Portsmouth, RI, 1999). African sites are mentioned only on rare occasions, but the various papers discuss aspects of the Roman army that can be applied to the frontier in Africa.

Harris, W. V. War and Imperialism in Republican Rome, 327-70 B.C. Oxford, 1979; rev. ed. 1985.

Janon, M. "Recherches à Lambèse" Antiquités Africaines 7 (1973), pp. 192-254. Excellent overview largely incorporated into the monograph of LeBohec (below).

Jones, B. W. The Emperor Domitian. London and New York, 1992. Sympathetic, but like many imperial biographies more concerned with high politics than the provinces.

Lazenby, J. F. Hannibal's War: a Military History of the Second Punic War. Warminster, 1978.

________. The First Punic War: a Military History. Stanford, 1996.

LeBohec, Y. La troisième legion auguste. Paris, 1989. This and the following work are absolutely indispensable to the study of the Roman army and frontier in Africa. Many illustrations and many inscriptions quoted in full, but the maps are not particularly good.

________. Les unités auxilliares de l'armée romaine en Afrique proconsulaire et Numidie sous le Haut-Empire. Paris, 1989.

________. The Imperial Roman Army (1989; English translation 1994). General overview.

with J.-F. Berthet, G. Brizzi, V. Giuffré, J.-M. Lassère. J.-L. Boisin and C. Wolff. Les Discours d'Hadrien à l'armée d'Afrique. Exercitatio. Paris, 2003. Discussion-review by B. Rankov, "Hadrian's speeches in Africa: exercises in the campus and military ideology" Journal of Roman Archaeology 18 (2005), 650-54.

LeGlay, M. and S. Tourrenc, "Nouvelles inscriptions de Timgad sur les légats de la troiesième légion auguste" Antiquités Africaines 21 (1985), 103-36.

Levick, B. M. Tiberius the Politician. London, 1976. Includes a survey of Tacfarinas' revolt.

________.Claudius. New Haven, 1990. Caligula eliminated the client ruler Ptolemy; Claudius annexed his kingdom as the provinces of Mauretania.

________. Vespasian. New Haven, 1999. Levick's imperial biographies are excellent starting points for studies of individual reigns, as they incorporate provincial developments as well as the politics of the imperial family and court. The expansion of the frontier in Africa is in the context of advances elsewhere in the Empire.

MacDonald, W. L. The Architecture of the Roman Empire. Vol. II: An Urban Appraisal. New Haven, 1986.

Mackendrick, P. The North African Stones Speak. Chapel Hill, 1980. A popularizing account but with a lot of useful information and some excellent photographs.

Mackensen, M. "Die Castra Hiberna der Legio III Augusta in Ammaedara/Haïdra" Mitteilungen des deutschen archaeologischen Instituts. Römische Abteilungen 104 (1997), 321-36. (Resumé in French on p. 334.) Traces of the Roman roads indicate that the castra hiberna of III Augusta were indeed at Ammaedara by late in Augustus' reign, against the doubts of a few (e.g., Daniels, above).

Mackie, N. J. "Augustan Colonies in Mauretania" Historia 32 (1983), 332-358.

Mattingly, D. J. Tripolitania. Ann Arbor, 1994. Indispensable to the study of this region.

Poinssot, C. "Immunitas Perticae Carthaginiensium" Comtes-Rendues de l'Académie des Inscriptions 1962, pp. 55-76.

Rankov, B. "The governor's men: the officium consularis in provincial administration" pp. 15-34 in Goldsworthy and Haynes (1999).

________. "Hadrian's speeches in Africa: exercises in the campus and military ideology" Journal of Roman Archaeology 18 (2005), pp. 650-656. Review of Le Bohec, et alii (2003) (above).

Raven. S. Rome into Africa. New York, 3rd edition, 1993. Readable overview with good pictures but inadequate maps. There is relatively little on strictly military topics and the narrative is perhaps heavy for the later period with lots on the Donatist controversy, St. Augustine, and the Vandals.

Ridley, R. T. "To be taken with a grain of salt: the destruction of Carthage" Classical Philology 81 (1986), 140-46. There is no ancient evidence that the site of Carthage was sown with salt when the city was destroyed and the ground plowed up in 146 BC.

Roller, D. W. The World of Juba II and Kleopatra Selene: royal scholarship on Rome's African frontier. New York and London, 2003. Indispensable for the Roman presence in Mauretania from 200 BC to the 30s AD, though not primarily concerned with military aspects. Sympathetic treatment of the client kings Juba II and his son the unfortunate Ptolemaios (Ptolemy).

Romanelli, P. Storia delle province romane dell'Africa. Roma, 1959. Now a bit old, but a solid, detailed narrative.

Rosenstein, N. Rome at War: Farms, Families and Death in the Middle Republic. Chapel Hill, 2004.

Saumagne, C. "Le plan de la colonie trajane de Timgad" Cahiers de Tunisie 10 (1962), 489-510.

Scullard, H. H. Scipio Africanus: Soldier and Statesman. Ithaca and London 1970.

Shaw, B. D. Rulers, Nomads, and Christians in Roman North Africa. Brookfield, VT, 1995.

________. Environment and Society in Roman North Africa. Brookfield, VT, 1995. These two volumes collect a number of Shaw's valuable articles on various aspects of Roman Africa. His concern is not the minutiae of military careers and forts; the army's value is as an avenue into a broader understanding of the history of the region. Note in particular the following in Rulers, Nomads and Christians:

________. "'Eaters of flesh, drinkers of milk': the ancient Mediterranean ideology of the pastoral nomad" Ancient Society 13/14 (1982/83), 5-31.

________. "Fear and loathing: the nomad menace and Roman Africa" pp. 25-46 in C. M. Wells, ed., Roman Africa/L'Afrique romaine. The 1980 Governor-General Vanier Lectures, Revue de l'Université d'Ottawa 1982. Note the remarks on Tacfarinas on pp. 42f.

________. "Soldiers and society: the army in Numidia" Opus 2 (1983), 138-159. A critique of Fentress' monograph (above) followed by his own observations, some of which are incorporated in this DIR article.

________. and D. Fishwick, "The formation of Africa Proconsularis"Hermes 105 (1977), 369-80.

Syme, R. "Tacfarinas, the Musulamii, and Thubursicu" pp. 113-130 in P. Coleman-Norton, ed., Studies in Roman Social and Economic History in Honor of A. C. Johnson (Princeton, 1951) = E. Badian, ed. and A. R. Birley, eds., Roman Papers 1 (Oxford, 1979) 218-230.

________. The Augustan Aristocracy. Oxford, 1986. The bible for prosopographical matters in the time of Augustus and beyond. Africa itself is peripheral to Syme's interests, but there is useful information, for example, on the M. Silanus and L. Piso proconsuls of Africa at the time Caligula removed the legion from the governor.

Thomasson, B. Die Statthalter der römischen provinzen Nordafrikas. Lund, 1960. The basic reference work for the proconsuls, but superseded in a few instances by later work.

Toynbee, A. J. Hannibal's Legacy. Oxford, 2 vols. 1965. Some information of relevance on the Republican period.

Warmington, B. H. "The municipal patrons of Roman North Africa" Pubs. Brit. School at Rome 22 (1954), 39-55. Shows the close ties that are frequently found between legates of III Augusta and the leading towns of the province, notably the colonies.

Waters, K. H. "Traianus, Domitiani continuator" Am. Jour. Philol. 90 (1964), 385-405.

Watkins, T. H. "Vespasian and Italic right" Classical Journal 84 (1989), 117-136. Vespasian established the legal doctrine of ius Italicum by which all properly founded colonies were regarded as being in Italy by a legal fiction. Coloniae were regularly founded in decommissioned legionary camps.

________. "Colonia Marciana Traiana Thamugadi: dynasticism in Numidia" Phoenix 56 (2002), 84-108. In naming this colony, founded in 100, for his mother and father, Trajan emphasized that he would continue the policies of the Flavian emperors.

Whittaker, C. R. Frontiers of the Roman Empire: a Social and Economic Study. Baltimore, 1993.

__________. "Roman Africa: Augustus to Vespasian" Cambridge Ancient History (2nd ed. 1996) 10.586-618.

A broad sweep of all aspects of the province, thus relatively little on military topics.

________. Rome and its Frontiers: the Dynamics of Empire. London and New York, 2004

Wilkes, J. J. "The Roman army as a community in the Danube lands: the case of the Seventh Legion" pp. 97-104 in Goldsworthy and Haynes (above).


There are web sites for several of the places mentioned in the text, and of course the web is constantly expanding so what follows is obviously intended only as a few suggestions which the author found useful at one time. Some are only in French, others provide English translations. I did not bother to list promotionals put out by tour companies and tourists' travelogues unless I found them (notably the photos) particularly good.

Legio III Augusta: Countless websites are devoted to various aspects of the Roman army and several provide basic historical data about all of the legions. Their content is often unreliable and cursory, and they often repeat one another. Two sites are listed below with illustrations of the types of error one encounters. The monographs by Y. LeBohec listed above are irreplaceable for serious work. Some serious errors are (1) that the legion was based at Theveste before moving to Ammaedara during the revolt of Tacfarinas the transfer from Ammaedara to Theveste is given correctly later in the narrative; (2) that III Augusta was the only legion commanded by a senator, a situation which changed under Caligula when the proconsular governor lost command of the legion the error is the failure to realize that while the proconsuls no longer controlled the legion, the legionary legates were senators of praetorian standing, although appointed by the emperor; (3) the historian Velleius Paterculus may have commanded III Augusta. Two notable errors are (1) that III Augusta was at Lambaesis from "+75" (i.e., 75 A.D.) there was evidently a unit of troops in a small fort not far from the fortress from 81, but the entire legion was not in its fortress here until 115-120; (2) two commanders' names are consistently misspelled, P. Cornelius Dolabella (not Donabella), who defeated Tacfarinas; and Pescennius Niger (not Prescennius).

Ammaedara/Haidra: https://www.diplomatie/

Carthage: There are many links here, both for the ongoing archaeological excavations and the holdings of the museums in Tunis, particularly the mosaics assembled from around Tunisia. There is, however, little information of a military nature.

Lambaesis: Several sites provided under the adjacent town, Tazoult, provided interesting information on the uprisings and revolts at the high security prison (especially in 1994) that lies overtop the Roman legionary fortress.

Madauros: Some interesting photos; the web sites pertaining to Madauros are all concerned with the 2nd century writer Apuleius and have nothing of interest on the Roman army.

Thamugadi/Timgad: OK narrative with a nice collection of photos, a site plan, and links to other on-line references for Timgad.

Theveste/Tébessa: In French but available in an English translation. Photos of the leading Roman remains.


[[1]]Two points about the citation used in this article. First, ancient forms of place names are used throughout, both in the text and on the maps. The first time a place appears, the modern form follows in parentheses; thereafter, only the ancient form is given. If the modern name is simply an adaptation of the ancient one (as Lambèse from Lambaesis), I use only the Roman form. Second, the notes refer to the scholarly literature in a short form; full information is in the Bibliography. MRR = T. R. S. Broughton, The Magistrates of the Roman Republic (Cleveland, 1951/52; 2 vols.; vol. 3 with additions and corrections, 1986).

[[2]]See Février (1989-90) pp. 75-80 on the epigraphic evidence. He estimates 250,000 inscriptions across the Maghreb and Tripolitania, but stresses that these quarter-million texts are very uneven in place, time and subject.

[[3]] Experts disagree as to the strength of the Roman military establishment in Africa. We do not know the precise figures for the auxiliary units, and sometimes it is not clear whether an author is incorporating the garrison of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica into the figures for Proconsularis and the two Mauretanias.

[[4]]Modern writers increasingly stress this theme, and we will return to it in Parts 4 and 5. For an example, see Daniels (1987) pp. 233-35. "The relationship between the two ways of life was complex and at the same time both hostile and symbiotic, for the pastoralists needed the farmers with whom they could exchange animal produce in return for grain, and the farmers needed the sources of extra harvest labour which the nomads provided." Many nomads practiced some agriculture along with seasonal transhumance.

[[5]] More correctly, perhaps, one should speak of the known fortresses of III Augusta. There was no permanent provincial garrison in the Republic, and thus no permanent camp; and in the early Empire legions may have been divided in half and stationed in two camps for a few years, perhaps moving from time to time. As appears below, the first certain camp of the Third is at Ammaedara, but as the known area seems too small to have housed more than half of the legion, the rest of it had an as-yet-undiscovered base or bases. From the A.D. 40s onward the commander of the legion was practically the governor of Numidia, a situation which received official recognition when Numidia was made a province distinct from Proconsularis about 208. See Part 3, below.

[[6]]Technically, Tripolitania was part of provincia Africa from 46 B.C., though the governors at Carthage seem not to have paid much attention to it; it eventually became a separate province. The two Mauretanias, Caesariensis and Tingitana, were annexed in A.D. 43/44: covered briefly in Part 3, below.

[[7]] For the shift to Lambaesis, Hadrian's visit during his inspection tour in 128, and the fossatum, see Parts 4 and 5.

[[8]] See Goldworthy (2000) for a fine recent treatment; Raven (1993) deals only with the African campaigns. For the careers of Rome's two greatest heroes, Scipio Africanus Major (the Elder) and his adoptive grandson Scipio Aemilianus Africanus Minor (the Younger), see Scullard, Scipio Africanus and Astin, Scipio Aemilianus. For an analysis stressing the aggression of Roman policy and individual commanders, see Harris, War and Imperialism. For strictly military analyses, see Lazenby, Hannibal's War and The First Punic War.

[[9]]See Rosenstein, Rome at War, esp. chaps. 4 and 5; Brunt, Italian Manpower, esp. chaps. 16 and 23; and Toynbee, Hannibal's Legacy.

[[10]]See Harris, War and Imperialism esp. chaps. 13; Earl, Moral and Political Tradition, chaps. 12; Cornell, Beginnings of Rome, chaps. 12, 14, 15.

[[11]] See Polybius 15.18; Appian, Pun. 52. Carthage had to cede to Masinissa all lands he or his ancestors had claimed (nobody could determine these!) and was herself confined within the "Punic ditches" (unknown). For the earlier treaty which Carthage was deemed to have broken: Livy 30.16.10-12; Appian, Pun. 32.

[[12]] See Scullard, Scipio Africanus; cf. Roller (2003) pp. 12-17; Raven (1993) pp. 31f., 41-45. The account of Livy is far more exciting reading than the dry analysis of Polybius: Livy 28.12-16, 35; 29.29-33; 30.3-15 (including presentation of the scipio), 32-35, 44f.; Polybius. 14.14; 15.4-14, 18.

[[13]] Appian's Punica (or Libyca) is the only surviving narrative of the fighting and the settlement. The widespread tale that Romans sowed salt over the site of the destroyed city is to be rejected: Ridley (1986). Ridley is wrong in saying "Appian is careful, however, to specify that the ground was not cursed." Pun. 136 ends by stating that Caesar and Octavian refounded Carthage but used land adjacent to the former site "being careful to avoid [or guarding against] the curse of long ago." (phylaxamenos tes palai to eparaton). The last word is related to eparomai, to curse; and epara, a solemn curse.

[[14]]Appian, Pun. 94, 105-106, 132-136; he mentions the senatorial commission which assisted Scipio in creating the province. See Daniels (1987) pp. 236-238, little changed from Broughton (1928), pp. 13-19. Map 2 indicates the 7 civitates liberae et immunes with black squares. Long unknown, Theudalis and Uzalis have recently been located (with a ?) not far from Utica on the shore of Lake Sisara (Ichkeul) and near El Alia. See the Barrington Atlas map 32.

[[15]]A tribune by the name of Gaius (?) Rubrius sponsored the colonizing law, but it was a part of Gracchus' extensive program. For the Gracchan legislation and Lex Agraria of 111, see MRR 1.517; Broughton (1929) pp. 1924.

[[16]]Convenient discussion in Roller (2003) pp. 24-38; family tree on 264f.

[[17]] For the Lex Appuleia, see MRR 1.513 with note 3 on p. 565 and refs. there. The laws were cancelled in 100, but the recipients were allowed to retain ownership of their grants. The inscriptions are from the 3rd century A.D., but their wording recalls the towns' origins: res publica coloniae Marianae. See CIL 8.15450, 26260, 26275, 26281f. (from Uchi); 26181 (Thibaris); P. Quoniam, CRAI (1950), pp. 332-336 = AE 1951.81 (Thuburnica).

[[18]]For the sources for 48-46, see MRR 2.272-303 passim. For Juba's decision and victory over Curio, see Roller (2003), pp. 30-38 and Caes., BC 1.6, 30; 2.23-44; 3.10; Dio 41.41f. and 42.56; (author unknown) Bellum Africum 19; Appian, BC 2.44-46; Front., Strat. 2.5.40. There is a colorful novelistic retelling in C. McCullough, The October Horse (New York, 2003).

[[19]]Bell. Afr. 91-97; App., BC 2.100f.; Dio 43.8; Seneca, Suas. 7.3.14; Seneca, de Prov. 2.10.

[[20]]See Mattingly (1994) pp. 50f. Lepcis was compelled to pay 3,000,000 pounds of olive oil per year: Bell. Afr. 97.

[[21]]See MRR 2.308-61 under Promagistrates for 45/42: Calvisius (also MRR 3.48), Cornificius, Sallustius, and Sextius.

[[22]]See Roller (2003) pp. 110, 59-75. Juba is absent from the historical record until 25 (see below, Part 3), but Roller makes a good case for his being raised by Caesar's niece Atia and her daughter Octavia (born ca. 69) the older sister of the future Augustus.

[[23]]Appian, BC 4.52-56; cf. Cic., ad Att. 15.17

[[24]] The literature on Carthage is vast; all histories of Roman Africa discuss Caesar's work. Poinssot (1962) and Broughton (1969/70) are particularly relevant here. Carthage's tribus, the Arnensis, is found widely in Vetus and the vast colonial pertica enjoyed immunity from taxation. As appears in Part 3 of this article, Caesar's new province was amalgamated with the old one in a few years and his colony was reinforced or refounded about 29 B.C. See Fishwick (1993) and esp. (1994).

[[25]]A good narrative is that by Romanelli (1959) pp. 140-150. Raven (1993) is more compressed. See App., BC 4.36 and 53; Dio 48.1.3, 17, 21; ILS 1945 is the career of one M. Caelius Phileros, who described himself as accensus T. Sextii imperatoris. Unless Phileros used the term imperator very loosely ("commander, governor"), the meaning should be that Sextius won it in the campaign against Cornificius or possibly against Fango, on which see below. Phileros' career is very important for an understanding of the colony of Carthage, but has little to do with the frontier.

[[26]]App., BC 5.26; Dio 48.22.

[[27]]App., BC 5.53, 65, 75; Dio 48.20.4, 23.45, and 28.4. See Fishwick (1994), at pp. 58-64. The violenta ludibria ascribed to Lepidus by Tertullian (de Pallio 1.2) were the demolition of buildings which had encroached on the cursed old city around the Byrsa and Megara. Caesar in 44 (as well as Octavian at his refoundation in 29) carefully located the colony off the cursed land, but "developers" had evidently spilled over.

[[28]]I accept the arguments of Fishwick's three studies: (1993, 1994 and 1996).

[[29]]Daniels (1987) pp. 237f. accepts 27. Romanelli (1959) pp. 153-160 hedges by arguing that the two provinces were in effect one from 36 but were not formally united until 27.

[[30]]The acta triumphalia are conveniently printed in E-J; MRR 2. 413 and 419 for Taurus and Cornificius. Whether the two Cornificii were related is unknown: the earlier's filiation is not on record but the later was son of a Lucius; possibly cousins, as the nomen is fairly unusual. L. Sempronius Atratinus triumphed in 21 and L. Cornelius Balbus in 19, both also ex Africa. Balbus' campaign was famous as he fought the Garamantes south of Tripolitania: Pliny, NH 5.36; cf. Mattingly (1994), pp. 18, 30, 35, 41, 43, 51, 70 and 74. Res Gestae 25 for Africa and note the plurals Hispaniae and Galliae for those provinces. Strabo 17.3.25 describes the distribution of provinces in 27 with "Libya" (=Africa) going to the people; but this means only that a single province was in existence by 27, not that two became one in that year. Dio 53.12.48 describes a distinction between Africa and Numidia because they were separate when he wrote, ca. 220 A.D. Severus divided them ca. 203. See Birley (1988) p. 114. In his 1994 article Fishwick shows that the career of Phileros should be dated to the years when Lepidus governed the consolidated province (pp. 64ff.).

[[31]] For the colonies, see Mackie (1983). She revives an old argument based on Dio 49.43.7 that Octavian briefly annexed Mauretania as a province, founded the colonies, and in 25 converted the province into a client kingdom: Romanelli rejected the case (1959), pp. 156f.; and it is not very likely. On the other hand, Octavian may have done roughly the same thing by annexing the kingdom of the Nabataeans in 31 B.C.: see G. Bowersock, Roman Arabia (Cambridge, MA., 1983), pp. 50-58; the parallel is not exact, since Aretas IV was on the throne from 9/8 and there were no colonies in Arabia. M. Sartre tentatively accepts Bowersock's hypothesis: The Middle East under Rome (Cambridge, MA, 2005; trans. C. Porter and E. Rawlings), pp. 72f., 82f. I rather doubt that the 12 colonies were administratively attached to Baetica in southern Spain, as Mackie has it (pp. 350-357). For Bocchus, Bogud and Juba, see Roller (2003) pp. 49-58, 91-100; cf. Romanelli (1959) pp. 162, 168-173, 188; Dio 49.43.7. Bogud abandoned his kingdom in 38 but was killed while serving with Antony in 31; Bocchus died in 33 and left his kingdom to Octavian.

[[32]]See LeBohec, Leg. III pp. 335ff.

[[33]]ILS 151 = E-J 290: IMP CAES AVGVSTI F AVGVSTVS TRI POT XVI ASPRENAS COS PR COS VII VIR EPVLONVM VIAM EX CASTR HIBERNIS TACAPES MVNIENDAM CVRAVIT LEG III AVG CI[.... ]. L. Nonius Asprenas (cos. suff. A.D. 6) was proconsul in 12/13-15/16. "CI..." is the mileage, the precise figure being unknown. Daniels (1987)  p. 238 doubts that the HQ of III Augusta were at Ammaedara until early in the reign of Tiberius (14-37): he says that Tacitus notes that the legion wintered in the old province until 22-23 and Ammaedara was outside Vetus. "Perhaps the fortress had been planned, but at Augustus' death the idea was dropped by Tiberius." I reject this for reasons that appear in the text. Cagnat (1913) p. 429 (cf. 582) followed Mommsen (CIL 8 p. xxi) in believing that the legion's first fortress was Theveste. Discoveries at Ammaedara soon disproved the hypothesis: cf. already in 1929 Broughton, pp. 92, 97; and LeBohec, Leg. III, pp. 341ff.

[[34]] Mackensen (1995) has shown beyond doubt that at least a part of the legion was at Ammaedara before the death of Augustus. There was room for five or six cohorts plus some auxiliary cavalry. The great road from Carthage became the camp's via principalis and the via praetoria exits the camp, crosses the Oued Haidra on an existing Roman bridge, and makes its way to Tacapae; it is the road under construction in 14. See his maps pp. 327, 331.

[[35]] Mattingly (1994) p. 79. LeBohec, Leg. III pp. 340ff., 353ff: roads converge on Sicca; small forts are known near Vaga (Beja) and near Simitthu (Chemtou), but it is not certain that they are to be dated to this period.

[[36]] For contrast, note the much-traveled Seventh: Wilkes in Goldsworthy and Haynes (1999). Caesar had it from 59, Octavian reorganized it in 44-43; it was stationed in Macedonia after Actium in 31, in Anatolia from 25 B.C., moved to the Balkans for the conquest of Pannonia in 11-9 B.C. and permanently left Anatolia in A.D. 7 for a new fortress at Tilurium (Trilj) in Dalmatia for roughly 50 years; when it stayed loyal to Claudius during Scribonianus' revolt in 41, the emperor honored it as VII Claudia Pia Fidelis. VII Cl. p.f. moved to the Danube before 66 and was at Viminacium (Kostolac) by the early second century.

[[37]] Velleius 2.116.2; Dio 55.28.3-4; Orosius 6.21.18; Florus 2.31. Mattingly (1994) pp. 69f.

[[38]]Velleius 2.116.2; ILS 120 = E-J 127. The scholarly Juba had appreciated the equally scholarly court of king Archelaus of Cappadocia and even married his daughter Glaphyra. He abandoned her when he returned home: Roller (2003) pp. 108f., 247ff.

[[39]] ILS 8966 honors the son of L. Passienus Rufus who was military tribune in the Twelfth. For Cossus Cornelius Lentulus, cf. Syme (1986) pp. 296f., pointing out that Tacitus seems not to have mentioned him in the Annals, not even an obituary--but one might have appeared in the lost Book 7. After early distinction he lapsed into drunkenness, even while Prefect of the City: Seneca, Ep. 83.15. For his son: Syme pp. 179f., 298; also below.

[[40]]For Tacfarinas, see Syme (1951 = 1979/80); Mattingly (1994) pp. 52, 70f.; Cherry (1998) pp. 38-41; and Roller (2003) pp. 106-114. Tacitus is the only ancient writer who covers the revolt: Ann. 2.52; 3.20f., 35, 73f.; 4.23-26; he lets his readers parallel the guerrilla warrior with his predecessor Jugurtha. For Arminius: Ann. 1.55-63; 2.9f. and 88; Florus and Sacrovir: Ann. 3.40-47.

[[41]]Ann 2.52. A Maurian co-leader at the start implies that Tacfarinas had support from the western tribes and that Juba II had been unable to keep the quiet.

[[42]]Ann. 3.9 for the legion en route down the Via Flaminia for transfer to Africa in 20; 3.21 for the legion in Africa (the plural legionum means the second legion was on duty); 3.74 in 22; 4.23 names the Ninth.

[[43]]Ann. 4.23 condemns Ptolemy: "Ptolemaeo Iubae filio iuventa incurioso." Roller (2003) p. 106 is sympathetic to Juba, pointing out that his kingdom was very rugged in the interior, lacked clear borders to the south, and the Gaetulians (a blanket term used "generically for many of the indigenous peoples") were invariably hostile.; pp. 252 ff. for Ptolemy.

[[44]]The Pagyda river of 3.26 is unknown. Thubuscum of the manuscript at 4.24 is a scribal error for Thubursicum Numidarum near Madaurus and west of Sicca: it is not the colony of Tupusuctu or Thubursicum Bure: see Syme (1951, 1979/80).

[[45]]Ann. 4.26; for Scipio and Masinissa, Livy 30.3-15.

[[46]]See the family trees in Syme (1986) tables XII and XIII and the many references in his index. There is no need to survey the family here.

[[47]]Daniels (1987) pp. 239f., says the shift occurred in 37 but provides no evidence; Barrett (1988) pp. 119, 121; LeBohec, Leg. III pp. 119f., 348, pointing out that many legates of the Third progressed immediately to the consulship.

[[48]]For detailed analyses, see Fishwick (1971) (quote p. 467); Barrett (1988) chap. 7; and Roller (2003) pp. 252-256. For briefer accounts see Daniels (1987) pp. 239f.; and Levick (1990) p. 149. Levick thinks Juba II and Ptolemy may have been "too successful" as the prosperity of the kingdom was too tempting for Rome to resist; Ptolemy was "summoned to Rome and executed" in 40; the provinces were formed early in 43. Barrett erroneously refers to the legion as II, and on pp 121-123 the title of Appendix 2 should be "Proconsuls" not "Procurators of Africa under Caligula."

[[49]]So far, Barrett. See Tac., Ann. 4.23, 26; Suet., Cal. 35.2; and Dio 59.25. Tacitus' account of Caligula's reign is lost. Barrett says Ptolemy's involvement in the conspiracy is unknowable now but Caligula used it as an excuse and executed the king on returning to Rome in the summer of 40. Fishwick argues that Caligula summoned him to Rome in 38 but then went to Lugdunum (Lyon) over the winter of 39/40, had the king brought there and executed in the spring of 40. Roller agrees that Ptolemy was insufficiently subordinate and prefers an execution in Rome in late 40.

50. The imperial regnal dates are: Vespasian, 69-79; his sons Titus, 79-81 and Domitian, 81-96; Nerva, 96-98; and Nerva's adopted son Trajan, 98-117. Nerva only lasted 16 months, from September 96 to January 98, too short a reign to implement his own policies. He claimed credit for two colonies, but was probably carrying out plans projected by the Flavians.

[[51]]Romanelli's survey of the civil war of 68/69 is sound (1959, pp. 279-285), but his account of events thereafter is now outdated. Daniels (1987) pp. 240-243 does not give due weight to this period. Mattingly is thorough for Tripolitania (1994, pp. 70-72, 77, 80). Cherry (1998, pp. 35ff.) is cursory for the Flavian years but fuller for the second and third centuries. Biographies of Vespasian (Levick [1999]), Domitian (Jones [1992]), and Trajan (Bennett [1997]) are all cursory on Africa. There is much good information in Whittaker (1993, 2004); and for military matters LeBohec, Leg. III pp. 407ff. is essential.

[[52]]Tac., Hist. 1.7, 37,73; Plutarch, Galba 13, 15; Suet., Galba 11. It is not clear whether Macer joined Vindex's rebellion or was out for himself.

[[53]]Tac., Hist. 1.76, 78 for Africa's allegiance to Otho; 2.57 a Mauretanian revolt crushed by the governor of Baetica on behalf of Vitellius; 2.97f., alluding to Vespasian's unpopularity as proconsul (cf. Suet., Vesp. 4.3) and the intrigues; 4.48-50 for Festus' murder of Piso and his campaign in Tripolitania. C. Calpetanus Rantius Quirinalis Valerius Festus, to give him his full name, rose to be a leading figure in Flavian circles. See his career spelled out in the inscription erected by the plebs urbana of Tergeste (Trieste): ILS 989 = M-W 266: military decorations bestowed by Vespasian, propraetorian legate of Pannonia ca. 73/76, a major military command, and then of Tarraconensis (=Hispania Citerior), c. 78/80. Martial 1.78 notes his suicide in the early 80s. Modern scholars regard him as an opportunist: LeBohec, Leg. III p. 352; Jones (1992) pp. 56f.; Mattingly (1994) p. 52; Levick (1999) pp. 43, 61.

[[54]]Nine boundary markers are known; their text is identical: EX AVCT[oritate] IMP VESPASIANI CAE AVG P P FINES PROVINCIAE NOVAE ET VETER[is] DERECTI QVA FOSSA REGIA FVIT PER RVTILIVM GALLICVM COS PONT ET SENTIVM CAECILIANVM PRAETOREM LEGATOS AVG PRO PR (ILS 5955 = M-W 449). On Caecilianus, see also the next paragraph. Q. Julius Cordinus C. Rutilius Gallicus was not the provincial proconsul but a consular legate. His specific mandate was to take the census, part of Vespasian's empire-wide raising of taxes; the emperor himself was censor in 73/74.

55. Mattingly (1994) pp. 53 and 76, with references to earlier literature. This survey was a follow-up to the mini war between these cities which had occasioned Valerius Festus' campaign against the Garamantes. Gallus was cos. suff. II in 85 and then Prefect of the City.

[[56]]ILS 8969 = M-W 276 sets out his career which includes the phrase LEG PR PR VTRIVSQVE MAVRETAN. M-W 277 at Banasa in Tingitana reads, in part: LEG AVG PRO PR ORDINANDAE VTRIVSQ MAVRETANIAE and calls him consul designate. In the mid-80s C. Velius Rufus fought the Mauri in the same area: ILS 9200 = M-W 372: DVCI EXERCITVS AFRICI ET MAVRETANICI AD NATIONES QVAE SVNT IN MAVRETANIA CONPRIMENDAS, to him as "commander (dux) of the army for suppressing and confining the peoples which are in Mauretania."

57. To Theveste: LeBohec, Leg III p. 353; p. 362 for the exercise ground (campus). For the colonies see Romanelli (1959), 293f.; Fentress (1979), pp. 66-69. Gascou (1982) pp. 161-163. Ammaedara: CIL 8.308. Madaurus: ILAlg. 1.2152; Apuleius, Apol. 24, "veteranorum militum ... splendidissima colonia." Since so many colonies in the Empire were founded in former forts, it is logical to suspect that an as-yet undiscovered fort lies on the site of the colony. The road: ILAlg. 1.3885 = M-W 419: Imp T CaesaRe VESPASIAno AVG F IMP X PonT TRIb pOT v Cos v CAESARe avG f DOMITIANO Cos v lEg iIi Avg q EgnatiO CATO leg aug prO PR Xxxi (the mileage); also ILAlg. 1.3883, 3950.

[[58]]These places are Zaoui and Khenchela; Aquae Flavianae is just 5 miles west of Mascula; Lambaesis is Lambese. See Gascou (1982) pp. 171-178; Cherry (1998) p. 41; LeBohec, Leg. III pp. 354365. Tettius Julianus was one of the leading Flavian generals; his career falls mostly under Domitian: legate of III Aug. In 80-82/83; suffect consul in 83; legate of Moesia 86-89 when he won the great battle at Tapae against the Dacians in 88. The fort at Lambaesis was about 390 x 475 feet. See M-W 389: IMP T. CAESARE DIVI VESPASIANI F AVG PON MAX TRIB POT PP COS VIII [two erased lines follow: they completed Titus' titles and gave Domitian's name: IMP CENS P P ET CAES DIVI F DOMITIANO COS VII ] L TETTIO IVLIANO LEG AVG PR PR [leg iii] AVG MVROS ET CASTRA A SOLO FECIT. See Janon (1973); Fentress (1979) pp. 93ff.

[[59]]See Romanelli (1959) p. 309; Gascou (1982) pp. 166-168 who regards Cuicul as Trajanic and cites inscriptional evidence for a CVRIA SEXTA NERVIANA at Mopth... CIL 8.8441 and 8472 style Sitifis colonia Nerviana. For Cuicul: CIL 8.20144, 20152; ILAlg. 2064 bis and 2070. Gascou p. 175 for Diana Veteranorum.

[[60]]Mattingly (1994) pp. 77, 80. Epigraphical evidence is much later, but Mattingly guesses some places received garrisons by the late first century. Bezeros (Bir Rhezane) is one possibility, castellus Thiges (sic; Degache) another.

[[61]]Mattingly (1994) pp. 52f., 71 and 78 arguing that Festus may have been as much concerned "by a desire to impress his new master, Vespasian," as by military necessity.

[[62]]ILS 6841 = S 508: IMP CAESAR DIVI NERVAE F TRAIANVS AVG GERMANICVS PONTIF MAX TRIB POT IIII COS III (the year 100) P P COL MARCIANAM TRAIANAM THAMVGADI PER LEG III AVG FECIT L MVNATIO GALLO LEG AVG PROPR. For Thamugadi as symbolizing continuation of dynasty and policy, see Watkins (2002), revising the traditional opinion that Trajan named the colony after his sister. Trajan's father was legate of X Fretensis under Vespasian in the Jewish War of 66-70, suffect consul in 70, legate of Syria 73-78, and proconsul of Asia 79/80; he probably died in the early 80s. For the family and ties to Hadrian's family the Aelii: Bennett (1997) and Birley (1997). Convenient discussions of Thamugadi and Cuicul can be found in MacKendrick (1980) and MacDonald (1986).

[[63]]See Shaw (1983), who criticizes the hypotheses of Fentress (1979) that discharged Roman veterans did most of the farming throughout this region and builds his own convincing case. Only about 100 veterans retired from the legion annually and most of them did not become farmers; nor were there extensive imperial estates (saltus) here. Natives owned the multitude of small farms. Roman governors marked off native lands in a process called limitatio (the establishing of boundaries, limites), not to confine the natives to the poorer lands but to supervise them and (we may suspect) demonstrate that the Romans would not encroach further.

[[64]]See Gascou (1982) p. 174; Fentress (1979) pp. 125, 142, 166.

[[65]]See Cagnat (1913) pp. 421ff., esp. 441-519; LeBohec, Leg. III pp. 405-450 and (1994) p. 175; Daniels (1987) pp. 243, 248; see also the opening paragraph of Part 6.

[[66]]Trajan ended the "confederation" of Cirta which dated to the days of Caesar (see the last section of Part 2 above) and made three of Cirta's dependencies titular colonies: Milev, Chullu and Rusicade (Mila, Collo and Skikda). See Gascou (1982) pp. 175-178. Diana Veteranorum northwest of Lambaesis is not a colony, as in Cherry (1998) p. 44.

[[67]]Whittaker (1993) p. 79 points out that the forts south of the Aurès under Trajan and Hadrian complement those of the Flavians along the northern slopes. From Barcino (Barcelona: ILS 1029 = S 224), Natalis was suffect consul 106, legate of Pannonia Superior 113-116, and proconsul of Africa 121/2. While a number of prosopographical studies discuss him, it is sufficient here to cite LeBohec, Leg. III pp. 368 (with notes 15, 17), 371 (with notes 44-48), and 430-433 (sketch and aerial photo), as he provides the texts of the relevant inscriptions. Ad Maiores ("at the Greater X ", perhaps "at (the Tombs of) the Ancestors" (?) is Negrine and Henchir Besseriani: IMP CAESAR DIVI NERVAE F NERVA TRAIANVS AVGVSTVS GERMANICVS DACICVS PONTIFEX MAXIMVS TRIB POT VIII (or VIIII) COS V P P DEDICANTE L MINICIO NATALE LEG LEG AVG III PROPRAETORE (CIL 8. 1796971, over three gates); the fort is roughly 247 x 377 ft. or 260 x 422 ½ ft. For the road, milestones are known (1) 12 miles east of Ad Medias (at Bir Djali, "Halfway" between ad Maiores and Badias [Bades] at the mouth of the Oued el-Arab): IMP CAESAR DIVI NERVAE F NERVA trAIANVS AVG GERmanICVS PONT MAX trIB POT VIIII IMP IV COS V P P l miniciO NATALE LEG AVG PROPR XII and XIII (CIL 8.22348 = S 425); and (2) along the sector from Capsa to Turris Tamellini (GafsaTelmine: AE 1910.21 22), 28 and 29 miles from civitas Nybgeniorum. The town became a municipium under Hadrian (Mattingly [1994] pp. 131f.); Natalis himself owned olive estates nearby: CEL(la) NIG(rensium) MAI(orum) L MINICII NATALIS EVLALVS ACTOR EI(us) (CIL 8.10962; an actor is an agent). For delimitation: ILS 5958 a-b = ILAlg. 2828; ILAlg. 2979, 2988, cf. 2080; ILTun. 1653.

[[68]]Both colonies are poorly known and are attributed to Trajan because they were in the tribus Papiria, Trajan's tribe. See Gascou (1982) pp. 171 and 173f.; he points to Theveste's important location on the road network, and adopts a minority view in arguing that "c'est au début de la règne de Trajan que le camp de la legio III Augusta fut transférée de Theveste à Lambaesis." ILS 5835 = S 426 for a Hadrianic milestone near Theveste 191 miles from Carthage.

[[69]]Storms forced Octavian to cancel a proposed trip to Africa in 36 (Suet., DA 47), which was before he became emperor anyway. Vespasian was proconsul in 62/63 (Suet., Vesp. 4.3; Tac., Hist. 2.97; Levick (1999) pp. 23f.). For Severus: Birley (1988) chaps. 3 and 14. Severus made Numidia an independent province, ending the anomalous situation that had existed since Caligula's day. SHA Had. 22.14 for the drought; 20.4 says Carthage was renamed Hadrianopolis; cf. 13.4 for unspecified beneficia. Birley (1997) chap. 17. In a slip on p. 209 Birley speaks of the legion has having moved to Lambaesis from "its former station, Ammaedara"-- Theveste is meant.

[[70]]ILS 2487, 9133-35 = S 328; translation at Lewis and Reinhold, Roman Civilization 2.507-509. See Campbell (1984), pp. 69-88, esp. 77-80. Hadrian used direct military speech, not "sophisticated eloquence." The whole "was a majestic occasion when military pride and esprit de corps could reign supreme." M. A. Levi, Adriano (Milano, 1994) pp. 44ff.  says Hadrian was concerned to maintain military discipline and readiness and quotes the adage, "If you want peace, prepare for war."

[[71]]LeBohec (1994) p. 114 for monumentalization and the observation that this is the best known campus in the Empire. For detailed analyses, see Le Bohec et alii (2003), reviewed by Rankov (2005). The campus is 650 feet on a side; the column was 30 feet tall and stood on a base measuring 6 ½ feet in height and nearly 15 ft. on a side.

[[72]]All over the Empire cities inscribed important documents (such as letters from governors or emperors conferring privileges) in places where nobody could read them. As an example, note the foundation established at Ephesus by C. Vibius Salutaris in 104: 7 documents in 6 columns, 568 lines of tiny letters mostly too high to be read: G. M. Rogers, The Sacred Identity of Ephesus (London and New York, 1991), pp. 20f., 198. The Res Gestae Divi Augusti in Ankara is similar.

[[73]]See, briefly, Birley (1997) pp. 115-117 (Germany), 123-141 (Britain) and 209f. (Africa). The limes in Germany was some 200 miles, and of greater symbolic than military value. The British wall was about 77 miles from the mouth of the Tyne to the tip of the Solway Firth, with an extension for some 40 miles along the Solway. Construction on these northern projects began during Hadrian's visits in 122-123, a few years before he came to Africa.

[[74]]CRAI 1949 pp. 220-226 = S 327a. IMP CAES DIVI TRAIANI PARTHICI F DIVI NERVAE NEP TRAIANO HADRIANO AVG PONT MAX TRIB POT V COS III (= 126) COH I CHALCID EQ DEVOTISSIMA IPSI STATVAM DE SVO POSVIT SEX IVLIO MAIORE LEG AVG PR PR. See Daniels (1987) pp. 241-246. For the auxiliary garrisons listed in the following sentences, see LeBohec, Les Unités auxiliares pp. 160-165.

[[75]]Cherry (1998), p. 1. Expressed in various ways, this fundamental fact has long been recognized. Cagnat (1913) pp. 427ff. made the same point: Rome was slow to penetrate inland except in the Bagradas valley, slow to give up reliance on client kings rather than to utilize her own army.

[[76]]See Austin and Rankov (1995), chaps. 6 and 7, esp. pp. 152-155, 168f. Every governor's staff (officium) included intelligence officers (speculatores, beneficiarii, frumentarii, interpretes), and imperial legates had larger officia than did proconsuls. However, there were never "military-intelligence staffs," no bureaus whose sole function was to gather and assess information from beyond the frontiers. See also Cherry (1998), chap. 2 for frontiers as zones, not lines sharply dividing the Roman world from barbarism.

[[77]]Mattingly (1994), p. 87: cohors II Flavia Afrorum equitata at Tillibari and cohors I Syrorum sagittariorum at Auru in the Djebel Nefusa south of Sabratha. This proved inadequate and Severus greatly augmented Rome's military presence.

[[78]]Février (1989-90) pp. 157-162: Caesariensis had 10 cohorts and 2 alae, which he calculates at approximately 6000 men; Tingitana had 6 cohorts (one of them milliaria) and 5 alae for another 6000 so 12,000 men in the two Mauretanias combined; and yet another 6000 in Tripolitania. Daniels (1987), pp. 239f.; 249 and 254 for post-Hadrianic developments. LeBohec, Unités auxiliares does not discuss Mauretania.

[[79]]See Rankov (1999) for a discussion of the governor's staff, the officium consularis. By the late 2nd century the staff of a legion was over 100 men, divided into principales, immunes and milites, each of which contained soldiers with different assignments and duties.

[[80]]Fevrier (1989-90) p. 157: the army was "destinée plus à la police qu'à la guerre." Daniels (1987) p. 236f. has an army of 30,500 (legion + auxiliaries) and contrasts the far larger garrisons in the smaller provinces of Britain, the Pannonias, the Moesias. Fevrier pp. 151162 says 18,000 auxiliaries + the legion, so 23,500. LeBohec (Unités aux. p. 165) has 11,260 including the legion but excluding the Mauretanias; Levick (1990) says 19 auxiliary units in the Mauretanias, which would be roughly 9120, and if we add this to LeBohec's 11,260 we have a total of 20,380. Cherry (1998) p. 53: 20,000 auxiliaries + the 5500 of the legion or 25,500 men; he specifically says Daniels's figure of 24,500 auxiliaries is too high.

[[81]]See LeBohec, Unités auxiliares chaps. 15. His chart on p. 165 shows 2 alae, 4 or 5 cohortes equitatae, and one purely infantry cohors at the end of the first century, or roughly 3360 auxiliaries; the figures increased over the second century to 3 alae, 6 cohortes equitatae, 2 cohortes and the numerus Palmyrenorum, a total of roughly 5760.

Copyright (C), Thomas H Watkins. This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents, including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.

Return to the Imperial Index