Africa Province


Africa Province

The Roman province of Africa was established after the Romans defeated Carthage in the Third Punic War. It roughly comprised the territory of present-day northern Tunisia, north-eastern Algeria and the Mediterranean coast of modern-day western Libya along the Syrtis Minor. The Arabs later named roughly the same region as the original province Ifriqiya, a rendering of "Africa".

History

It was the site of the ancient city of Carthage as well as other large cities in that era, such as Hadrumetum (modern Sousse, Tunisia), capital of Byzacena, Hippo Regius (modern Annaba, Algeria). The province was established in 146 BC following the Third Punic War, by annexing the remaining Carthaginian territory not confiscated after previous defeats by the Romans. Rome established its first African colony, "Africa Proconsularis" or "Africa Vetus" (Old Africa), governed by a proconsul, in the most fertile part of what was formerly Carthaginian territory, and established Utica as the administrative capital. The remaining territory was left in the domain of the Numidian client king Massinissa. At this time, the Roman policy in Africa was simply to prevent another great power to rise on the far side of Sicily. In 118 BC the Numidian prince Jugurtha attempted the reunification of the smaller kingdoms under his rule. However upon his death much of Jugurtha's territory was placed in the control of the Mauretanian client king Bocchus and the romanization of Africa was now firmly rooted. The civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompey briefly brought North Africa into the Roman spotlight once again.

Several political and provincial reforms were implemented by Augustus and later by Caligula, but Claudius finalized the territorial divisions into official Roman provinces. Africa was a senatorial province. After Diocletian's administrative reforms, it was split into "Africa Zeugitana" (which retained the name "Africa Proconsularis", as it was governed by a proconsul) in the north and "Africa Byzacena" in the south, both of which were part of the "Dioecesis Africae". The region remained a part of the Roman Empire until the great Germanic migrations of the 5th century. The Vandals crossed into North Africa from Spain in 429 and overran the area by 439 and founded their own kingdom, including Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia and the Balearics. The Vandals controlled the country as a warrior-elite, enforcing a policy of strict separation and suppressing the local Romano-African population, They also persecuted the Catholic faithful, as the Vandals were adherents of the Arian heresy (the semi-trinitarian doctrines of Arius, a priest of Egypt). Towards the end of the 5th century, the Vandal state fell into decline, abandoning most of the interior territories to the Mauri and other Berber tribes of the desert.

In AD 533, emperor Justinian, using a Vandal dynastic dispute as pretext, sent an army under the great general Belisarius to recover Africa. In a short campaign, Belisarius defeated the Vandals, entered Carthage in triumph and succeeded in reestablishing Roman rule over the province. The restored Roman administration was successful in fending off the attacks of the Amazigh desert tribes, and by means of an extensive fortification network managed to extend its rule once again to the interior. The North African provinces, together with the Roman possessions in Spain, were grouped into the Exarchate of Africa by emperor Maurice. The exarchate prospered, and from it resulted the overthrow of the tyrannical emperor Phocas by Heraclius in 610. Its stability and strength in the beginning of the 7th century can be seen from the fact that Heraclius briefly considered moving the imperial capital from Constantinople to Carthage. Faced with the onslaught of the Muslim Conquest after 640, and despite occasional setbacks, the exarchate managed to stave off the threat, but in 698, a Muslim army from Egypt sacked Carthage and conquered the exarchate, ending Roman and Christian rule in North Africa.

Economics

The prosperity of most towns depended on agriculture. Called the "granary of the empire", North Africa, according to one estimate, produced one million tons of cereals each year, one-quarter of which was exported. Additional crops included beans, figs, grapes, and other fruits. By the second century, olive oil rivaled cereals as an export item. In addition to the cultivation of slaves, and the capture and transporting of exotic wild animals, the principal production and exports included the textiles, marble, wine, timber, livestock, pottery and wool.

Known governors of Roman Africa

Republican Era

90s–31 BC

During the civil wars of the 80s and 40s, legitimate governors are difficult to distinguish from purely military commands, as rival factions were vying for control of the province by means of force. [The dates and names of governors in Africa for the period 99–31 BC are taken from T.R.S. Broughton, "The Magistrates of the Roman Republic", vol. 2: 99 B.C.-31 B.C. (New York: American Philological Association, 1952).]
*None known with reasonable certainty for the 90s
*P. Sextilius (88–87 BC)
*Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius (86–84 BC)
*C. Fabius Hadrianus (8482 BC)
*Gn. Pompeius Magnus (82–79 BC)
*L. Licinius Lucullus (77–76/75 BC)
*A. Manlius Torquatus (69 BC or earlier)
*L. Sergius Catilina (67–66 BC)
*Q. Pompeius Rufus (62–60/59 BC)
*T. Vettius, "cognomen" possibly Sabinus (58–57 BC)
*Q. Valerius Orca (56 BC)
*P. Attius Varus (52 BC and probably earlier; see also below)
*C. Considius Longus (51–50 BC)
*L. Aelius Tubero (49 BC; may never have assumed the post)
*P. Attius Varus (seized control again in 49 and held Africa till 48)
*Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio Nasica (47 BC)
*M. Porcius Cato (jointly in 47 BC with special charge of Utica)
*C. Caninius Rebilus (46 BC)
*C. Calvisius Sabinus (45–early 44 BC, Africa Vetus)
*C. Sallustius Crispus, the historian usually known in English as Sallust (45 BC, Africa Nova)
*Q. Cornificius (44–42 BC, Africa Vetus)
*T. Sextius (44–40 BC, Africa Nova)
*C. Fuficius Fango (41 BC)
*T. Statilius Taurus (35 BC)
*L. Cornificius (34–32 BC)

Augustus

*Lucius Aelius Lamia

Tiberius

*Lucius Nonius Asprenas [Tacitus, "Annals" ]
*Marcus Furius Camillus [Tacitus, "Annals" ] (17–19)
*Lucius Apronius [Tacitus, "Annals" ] (19–21)
*Quintus Junius Blaesus [Tacitus, "Annals" , ] (21–23)
*Publius Cornelius Dolabella [Tacitus, "Annals" ] (23–24)

Claudius

*Curtius Rufus [Tacitus, "Annals" ]

Notes

References

* Lennox Manton, "Roman North Africa", 1988

External links

* [http://www.unrv.com/provinces/africa.php Roman Africa at www.unrv.com]


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