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Timgad

roman, city, trajan and arch

TIMGAD, Algeria, the ancient Roman city THAMUGADI, in the department of Constantine, near Lamb6ze, about 25 miles southeast of Batna on the Philippeville-Biskra Railroad, is approached through a valley bounded by the Aures Mountains and stands on the northern fringe of the African Desert. It was a forti fied frontier town at the junction of six roads, and was founded in 100 A.D. by Lucius Munatius Gallus. It flourished for three centuries and then underwent various vicissitudes, owing to native insurrections and the incursions of the Vandals, in 535 being paytially destroyed. Four years later, under the Byzantine general Solo mon, it was restored and had another period of prosperity until the Arab invasion of 646, when the Christian governor, Gregory of Tim gad, was defeated and killed, the town being subsequently abandoned, falling into ruins and gradually becoming buried beneath the desert sands. Recent excavations undertaken by the French government have revealed ruins, which for beauty, architecture and magnificent extent have gained for Timgad the title of the ((Afri can Pompeii." Nearly the whole of the city has been laid bare (see illustrations) and ex hibits the usual Roman platting, two main streets, the Decumanus Maximus extending east and west and the Cardo Maximus intersecting at right angles, upon and around which the city was built. The principal buildings arc on the main streets and among the prominent civic features arc the magnificent .triumphal arch of

Trajan, the Forum (seating 3,500), with the theatre, basilica, library and other buildings surrounding it, the temple of Jupiter Capi tolinus, statues of the Roman emperors. a Byzantine fort, the Christian basilica and ca thedral erected by Gregory, the governor al ready mentioned, houses and stores, markets and annexes, therm and latrine. The arch of Traian, the finest Roman construction of its kind in northern Africa and the dominat ing attraction of Timgad, bears an inscription which translated reads: "The Emperor Cs*ar Nerva Trajan Augustus Germs nius, son of the divine Nerva, sovereign pontiff, four times tribune. three times consul, father of his country, founded the Marcian colony, Trajan of Thamugadi, by the help of the third Augustus Legion, Lucius Munatms Gallus being the legal imperial proprietor." The epigraphic wealth of the city is con siderable, including inscriptions to early Chris tians, showing that they were persecuted and underwent martyrdom, while others bear such historical names as Novatus, a member of the Council of Carthage in 258; Sextus in 320; Faustinius, opponent of Gaudentius the Dona tist, in 411, and Secundus, bishop of Numidia, exiled by Huneric in 484. Consult Ballu, A., 'Guide Illustre de Timgad> (Paris 1911).