Hadrume(n)tum (sometimes called Adrametum or Adrametus) was a Phoenician colony that pre-dated Carthage and stood on the site of modern-day Sousse, Tunisia.

Ancient history

In the 9th century BC, the Phoenicians, astute Levantine maritime traders who would later be supplanted in Northern Africa by their major colony Carthage, sensed the possibilities of a port city south of present-day Tunis and founded Hadrumetum on what is now the Gulf of Hammamet in the Mediterranean Sea.

Hadrumetum was one of the most important communities within the Carthaginian territory in northern Africa because of its strategic location on the sea in the heart of the fertile Sahel region. The city allied itself with Rome during the Punic Wars, thereby escaping damage or ruin and entered a relatively peaceful 700-year stint under Pax Romana, although Hannibal made use of it as a military base in his campaign against Scipio Africanus at the close of the Second Punic War. At some point during this period its name was slightly altered (by the addition of an N) to become Hadrumentum.

Under the Roman Empire it became very prosperous; Trajan gave it the rank of a colonia: "Colonia Concordia Ulpia Trajana Augusta Frugifera Hadrumetina". A breathtaking legacy of intricate Roman mosaics survives from this era, together with many early Christian objects from the catacombs. At the end of the 3rd century it even became the capital of the newly-made province of Byzacena (modern Sahel, Tunisia).

The city's strategic position meant that it changed hands (and names) many times in the following centuries. In the 5th century AD it was destroyed by the Vandals, who rebuilt it and renamed it Hunerikopolis after their king Hunerik. The following century it was taken over by Byzantium and renamed Justinianopolis (one of several homonyms is Kırşehir in modern-day Turkey).

Later history

By the mid-7th century it was under Arab control, and had again been renamed, this time as Sūsa. During the next 200 years it became the main sea port of the Aghlabid dynasty, being 60km east of their capital Kairouan ('al-qayrawān in Arabic). The 'ribat', which they began building in 821, as a fortress against the Christians of Sicily, still stands, and contains what is considered to be the oldest mosque in North Africa; nearby, the town's main mosque, also founded in the 9th century, has a similarly fortress-like appearance. In 827 the Aghlabids launched their invasion of Sicily from this port (the first move in a campaign which was to last until 902).

During the 12th century Sūsa was briefly occupied by the Normans (from their territory in Sicily, which they conquered between 10601090); in the 16th century it was occupied by Spain. The city was bombarded by French and Venetian forces during the 18th century. Tunisia had become a French protectorate in 1881, and in the late 19th century, France added to the port's facilities, increasing the importance of Sousse, as it had become by then.

Susa under French rule had 25,000 inhabitants, of whom 1,100 French and 5,000 other Europeans, mainly Italians and Maltese. It was a government centre in the Province of Tunis. It has a few antiquities and some curious Christian catacombs. The native portion of the town has hardly altered. It has a museum, a garrison, an important harbour and many oil wells in the neighbourhood.

Ecclesiastical history

It remains a Roman Catholic titular see in the former Roman province of Byzacena. Between 255 and 551 there were nine bishops of Hadrumetum who are still known, the last of whom was Primasius, whose works are to be found in P.L., LXVIII, 467.

ources & external links

*Catholic [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07105b.htm]
* [http://looklex.com/e.o/sousse.htm Encyclopaedia of the Orient: Sousse (Sūsa) ]
* [http://looklex.com/tunisia/sousse01.htm Adventures of Tunisia: A virtual tour of the historic sites of Sousse]

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Look at other dictionaries:

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