The history of Roman Africa begins in 146 BC with the destruction of Carthage and the establishment of the province of Africa in the most fertile part of the Carthaginian Empire. The new province covered about 5000 square miles (17,172 square kilometers) of the northern part of modern Tunisia. A praetor governed the area from his headquarters at Utica. The Romans inherited a thriving agriculture developed by the Carthaginians. The climate was hospitable. Wheat and barley were the most important cereals; wine and olive oil were also produced and there were various fruit trees.
Annexed in 46 B.C., the Romanization of the city of Thugga that was probably a residence of the Numidian kings, was gradual but profound. It became Municipium Thuggense in 205, and was raised to the rank of a Colonia Licinia Septima Aurelia Alexandriana Thuggensesin in 261 under Gallien. Numerous buildings of this city overlooking the valley of the Ouadi Khaled, have been uncovered among them the Capitol dedicated to the Capitoline Triad in 166-67, the theater on the top of the plateau constructed under Antonius Pius, the Temple of Mercury, Fortune, Augustan Piety, Liber Pater, Concordia, Frugifer, Pluto, Saturn and the Temple of Caelestis which stands in the middle of a an olive grove. In the residential areas stands the Licinian Baths with their Palestrae and the Cyclops Baths and the Triumphal Arch of Septimus Severus set astride a street leading down the hill. Two building inscriptions (CIL VIII, 26606 and CIL VIII, 26607), dated to AD 166-169 mention a theater with a basilica, porticoes, and xystis.
The sanctuary of Minerva 2
The sanctuary of Minerva 2, (138-161 CE), built later than the templa Concordiae, presents a very different configuration. The cella, projecting outwards from the courtyard lined with porticoes, is built on a very high podium whose summit corresponded to the level of the peribolus roof and to which access was gained by a monumental staircase. The temple, by its insertion in the topography of the site, seems to emerge from the cliff into which it was embedded. The approach was a long allée bordered on both sides by planting beds that emphasized the perspective centered on the cella. An open-air ambulatio, bordered by a balustrade, ran alongside the porticoes and the staircase, restricting access into the planted areas. Located on the outskirts of the city, one can imagine that the temple nestled in the cliff, perhaps surrounded by trees. The vegetation thus embraced the sanctuary as a whole and framed the altar located on the axial path leading to the temple.
- Aounallah, S., Maurin, L., "Remarques sur la topographie rurale et urbaine du pagus et de la ciuitas de Thugga (Dougga, Tunisie)", in Hommes, cultures et paysages de l'Antiquité à la période moderne : Mélanges offerts à Jean Peyras, Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2013. (worldcat)
- Malek, A.-A., "Le jardin dans les sanctuaires du Maghreb romain, premières approches", in Du culte aux sanctuaires : l’architecture religieuse dans l’Afrique romaine et byzantine, Brouquier Reddé, V., Baratte, Fr., Rocca E. (dir.), Paris, de Boccard, coll. Orient et Méditerranée, 2018, pp. 213-230, p. 364, pl. 14. (worldcat)
- Saint-Amans, S. "Topographie religieuse de Thugga (Dougga)"", in Ville romaine d'Afrique proconsulaire (Tunisie), (Scripta Antiqua, 9), Bordeaux : Ausonius Éditions 2004, pp. 340-341, p. 216, fig. 2a. (worldcat)
21 Apr 2021