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Africa Proconsularis And Numid Essay Research Paper

Africa Proconsularis And Numid Essay, Research Paper

Before the Roman

As the desert dries up in Africa around 2000 BC, a group of people are being isolated in the mountain of northwest Africa. They remained at an early form of civilization, still hunting animal, and settling simple agriculture. The Greek called them Libyans; Roman called them Africans, Numidians, and Moors.

Around 1000 BC, the Phoenicians began to use North Africa as a trade route from Syria to Span. They build settlements coastal settlements for their shits to rest at. The Phoenicians has no interest in Africa as a resource; however, the Africans are amazed by the ports, and start trading wheat with the Phoenicians.

By the sixth century BC, the Greeks start to settle on Sicily Island, and attempts push the Phoenicians southward. The Phoenicians start to struggle with Greek for hundred years. In the end, the Greeks won, and the Phoenicians begins exploring Africa, while trying to look a place for new resources. They build Carthage. Soon, the Carthaginians builds a strong country, using farming as resources, and Africans as army.

Africa and Rome

By the third century BC, Carthage had become such a great power, that Roman was both jealous and fear of it. In 264BC, a series of Punic War happened between Roman and Carthage. In 146 BC, the third Punic War ended, and Roman had control over the whole know Africa. The Roman formed settlement in the most fertile part, Africa Vetus, and the rest of the territory was left to Masinissa, the king of Numidia.

After the death of Masinissa, his son, Micipsa, has the throne. Micipsa soon realized that one of his dead brothers sons, Jugurtha, would threaten his sons power. So he send Jugurtha fighting for the Roman, hoping he would be killed. However, Jugurtha lived, and made many friends in the Roman. When he returned to Africa, the Roman commander, Scipio Africanus, send a recommend letter to Micipsa. Micipsa took the hints and made Micipsa joint heir with Micipsa s two sons.

After Micipsa s death, Jugurtha killed one of Micipsa s sons and exciled the other. Because Micipsa seize the throne illegally, the Roman had to step in and started the Jugurthine War with Jugurtha. The war ended when King Bocchus of Mauretania, Jugurtha s father-in-law, betrayed him and delivered Jugurtha Sulla, the Roman general, and King Bocchus was rewarded with the western part of Numidia.

In 60 BC the first triumvirate of Rome was formed between Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus. Pompey recieved control of Africa, and the Numidian king of the time, Juba I, was his supporter. When the triumvirate dissolved in 53 BC, Juba I continued to defend Africa against the forces of Caesar. This resistance was not long lived, however, and by 46 BC, Caesar had defeated the Pompean loyalists. As a sign of victory, Caesar had Juba s young son, Juba II, taken to Rome to be brought up in his household.

Africa was not left to its own devices anymore. Caesar extended direct Roman rule to include most of the Numidian kingdom. After the death of King Bocchus in 33 BC, the kingdom of Mauretania fell to Roman rule as well. One of Caesar s main African projects was to refound Carthage. He was murdered before he achieves his goal. Augustus, however, achieved the goal, and Juba II returned to rule Mauretania. Juba II was a loyal Roman supporter for all of his reign.

Upon Juba II s death, his son Ptolemy took over Mauretania. The Moors revolted immediately, and was put down quickly and efficiently by the Roman, but it was obvious that Rome would have to take direct control here as well. Claudius did that around AD 40, creating two provinces in Mauretania, and completing the full control of the Roman province of Africa.

Roman Rule of Africa

The province of Africa was governed as any other senatorial province. Senators were chosen to serve one-year terms as proconsuls and propraetors. Africa was deemed a frontier province, and as such, has a legion under imperial rule to maintain control and keep out foreign invaders. The Third Augustan Legion, formed in 27 BC, permanently garrisoned Africa. Aside from quelling the occasional tribal revolts, there was not much for the legion to do. They ended up working on many of the roads in Africa.

The Romans also recruited the famed and formidable Numidian cavalry. By the second half of the first century AD, the Third Augustan Legion was training cavalry for the service for other legions of Roman Empire.

Mutual Benefit for Roman and Africa

By Caesar s day, Africa produced nearly 50,000 tons of grain per year. Regular winter rains, mild springs without frost, long summers with no threat of a sudden storm gave Africa the most reliable harvests of the empire. After a century of direct Roman rule, Africa took over Egypt s former position as the city s principle supplier of corn, producing a half million tons of grain per year, two thirds of the Roman City s requirement. Thus Africa acquired the title, the “granary of Rome.”

Africa also exported woolen and leather goods, marble, wood, precious stones, dyes, gold dust, and animals such as elephants, leopards, panthers and camels.

Most exports were sent from Carthage, because the sea journey from the Italy was much shorter than to Spain or to Egypt. Therefore, it was cheaper to trade with Carthage, for less transport cost and shipwreck.

In the mid second century AD, Rome s growing population had an growing need for olive oil, which was used for cooking, lighting, and perfume. The olive tree, requiring little water and able to grow in almost infertile land, was soon become Africa s second largest production.


Romanization was not rapid in the first century, with much of the former Punic civilization still flourishing and Rome not taking much interest in its new province. Near the end of the first century AD, Punic language was still spoken in Numidia until early in the fifth century.

The first major Romanization shows in an inscription from 88 AD, which shows the membership of a training hall. None listed were yet Roman citizens, but their names are listed personal name, which is in Latin, and father s name, in Punic or Numidian. The inscriptions show a strong Roman influence in African culture. Romanization was rapid after that, with Punic names dying out among leading citizens by the end of the first century AD.

Trajan expanded the availability of Roman citizenship for all in Africa, and the chance for Africans to take office in Rome. Most cities of Africa all exhibit baths, theaters, arches, extravagant tombs and luxury buildings, the requirements for Romans to live comfortably.

How Roman lose Africa

Unlike many other Roman provinces, Africa has no official date in which it fell out of Roman hands. Instead, we see the decline of Rome itself. Some scholars suggest that Rome’s losing Africa, its greatest food resource, was a key factor in its fall.

During the reign of Diocletian, in the late third and early fourth centuries, the olive fields were being taxed heavily, and the landowners depends on the peasants to work harder to pay the taxes.

About this time, Christianity had come to Numidia. It spread faster in Africa than anywhere else, probably due to the desire for peasants to escape the slavery and there not having a strong religious faith in Africa for centuries.

At the beginning of the fifth century, northwest Africa was the only Roman territory that had not suffered barbarian incursions. Even Rome itself had been looted for three days by the Goths. Some land had been abandoned, but the province still produced many goods.

It would be the Vandals, migrating barbarians from northern Spain. In 429 AD, the Vandals began their invasion of Africa. The Vandals themselves came to Africa to settle, not to destroy. They made sure to preserve the land, for they were going to live on it. Vandals move across Africa with ease, because there was no standing army since Africa is nothing but peaceful. The only thing the local army knew how to do was stop tribesman from rioting, not how to put down a foreign invasion.

Ten years later, the Vandals had made it to Carthage and in 439 AD, seized the greatest African city, bringing to a close Rome s six hundred year reign of Africa.

Modern Africa

The ancient Africa separates into three countries: Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria.

For Tunisia, following Vandals invade Africa in 439 AD, Arab in the seventh century, Sicilian Normans under Roger II in the 12th century and the Spanish in the first half of the 16th century. In 1574, Ottoman defeated the Spanish, and Tunisia became part of the Ottoman Empire. In 1815, the US Navy attacked Tunisia.

During the late 1880s a group of French settlers colonized the region along the northern coast. During the Second World War, Tunisia supported the Vichy government, which ruled France after its capitulation to the Nazis in 1940. The first Tunisian elections took place in April 1956. Tunisia demanded the French evacuation of a naval base at Bizerte, and Tunisian troops held the base under siege in July 1961. A UN cease-fire was demanded, and France was asked by the UN General Assembly to withdraw from Bizerte. After lengthy discussion, France did withdraw in October 1963.


Millar, Fergus, ed. The Roman Empire and Its Neighbors. New York: Dell, 1967.

Oliver, Roland. A Short History of Africa. Baltimore. Penguin Books Ltd. 1968.