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Nearly three thousand years ago the Phoenicians set up trading colonies on the coast of North Africa and ever since successive civilizations have been imposed on the local inhabitants largely from outside Carthaginians Romans vandals Byzantines Arabs TUrks French and Italians have all occupied the region in their timeThe Romans governed this part of Africa for six hundred cities twelve thousand miles of roads and hundreds of aquaducts some fifty miles long The remains of many of these structures can be seen todayAt the height of its prosperity during the second and third centuries AD the area was the granary of Rome and producedolive oil than Italy itselfThe broadening horizons of the Roman Empire provided scope for the particular talents of a number of Africa's sons the writers Terence and Apuleius the first African Roman Emperor Septimius Severus famous Christian theologians like Tertulllian and Saint Augustine these are just some who rose to meet the challenges of their ageNearly three thousand years ago the Phoenicians set up trading colonies on the coast of North Africa and ever since successive civilizations have been imposed on the local inhabitants largely from outside Carthaginians Romans vandals Byzantines Arabs TUrks French and Italians have all occupied the region in their timeThe Romans governed this part of Africa for six hundred cities twelve thousand miles of roads and hundreds of aquaducts some fifty miles long The remains of many of these structures can be seen todayAt the height of its prosperity during the second and third centuries AD the area was the granary of Rome and producedolive oil than Italy itselfThe broadening horizons of the Roman Empire provided scope for the particular talents of a number of Africa's sons the writers Terence and Apuleius the first African Roman Emperor Septimius Severus famous Christian theologians like Tertulllian and Saint Augustine these are just some who rose to meet the challenges of their ageNearly three thousand years ago the Phoenicians set up trading colonies on the coast of North Africa and ever since successive civilizations have been imposed on the local inhabitants largely from outside Carthaginians Romans vandals Byzantines Arabs TUrks French and Italians have all occupied the region in their timeThe Romans governed this part of Africa for six hundred cities twelve thousand miles of roads and hundreds of aquaducts some fifty miles long The remains of many of these structures can be seen todayAt the height of its prosperity during the second and third centuries AD the area was the granary of Rome and producedolive oil than Italy itselfThe broadening horizons of the Roman Empire provided scope for the particular talents of a number of Africa's sons the writers Terence and Apuleius the first African Roman Emperor Septimius Severus famous Christian theologians like Tertulllian and Saint Augustine these are just some who rose to meet the challenges of their age


8 thoughts on “Rome in Africa

  1. says:

    The first edition of this book was published in 1969 the second in 1984 and the third in 1993 The third edition was reprinted in 1998 and 2002 Therefore it is still available This is very fortunate because it is a very good bookThe topic is Rome in Africa To Susan Raven Africa is the territory covered by four modern states Morocco Algeria Tunisia and Libya Egypt is only mentioned in passing although this country is also located in North Africa and also was a part of the Roman Empire Maybe because Egypt is a long story in itselfSusan Raven is a journalist She is not an academic specialist but she is familiar with the region she has travelled there and she is familiar with the literature about the region ancient sources as well as modern scholarshipHer book is divided into 14 chapters which follow a chronological line from ca 1000 BC to ca AD 700 Before chapter 1 we have a chronological survey a note on certain words and an introduction After chapter 14 we have a bibliography a list of modern and ancient place names and an indexThe text is illustrated by 88 black and white photos many of them taken by the author herself But the size is rather small many of them measure only 11 x 8 cm and the quality is often poor This is not a picture book for your coffee table In the beginning of the book there are four maps of North Africa Egypt in the northeastern corner of the continent is excluded Roman Africa from the Republican period to the third century AD North Africa in the fourth century Byzantine provinces in North Africa seventh century North Africa showing tribal areasAt the end of the book there are plans of eight ancient sites Carthage the town Carthage the Admiralty Island Dougga and Thuburbo Maius in Tunisia Cherchel and Tipasa in Algeria Leptis Magna and Sabratha in Libya Volubilis in MoroccoThe book covers important events persons and places of North Africa's ancient history You might think a book like this would be a bit dry and hard to get through but it is not It is very well written In fact when you finish one chapter you want to go straight to the next one because the story is so interestingThere are two mistakes in this book1 The first mistake concerns the famous Roman politician Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus known in English as Pompey On page 53 Susan Raven writesAfter Pompey's death at Pharsalus the Pompeian party continued to hold Africa and wage war against Caesar from there for it was not then by any means a foregone conclusion that Julius Caesar would become the master of the Roman worldPompey was defeated by Caesar in the battle of Pharsalus but he did not die there He escaped to Egypt where he was asssassinated just as he was going ashoreLater she mentions Lucius Septimius Severus the first Roman emperor who was born in Africa and his trip to Egypt On page 137 she says He sacrificed at the tomb of Pompey at PelusiumThis passage shows she knows Pompey was buried in Egypt When she is aware of this fact why would she say that he died at Pharsalus?2 The second mistake concerns the Byzantine emperor Justinian On page 209 she writes that he became emperor in 527 which is true Then she continues He ruled for fifty yearsThis is not true Justinian ruled until his death in 565 a long reign almost 40 years but nowhere near 50 years Why would she say he ruled for 50 years?These mistakes are puzzling for two reasons The first reason is that the author is very familiar with the basic facts regarding her topic How can she make mistakes like that? The second reason is that this is the third edition of the book Why were these mistakes not discovered and corrected after the first or the second edition? How could they remain undetected in the third edition of the book?This is not a guidebook It will not tell you how to get from A to B if you are travelling in North Africa It is a history book which gives background information about political economic and social conditions in Roman Africa As such it is a very useful tool before and after a visit to some of the ancient sites in North Africa Here are a few examples of the many topics covered in the book The long and deadly conflict between two superpowers of the ancient world Carthage and Rome chapters 2 and 3 The life and career of the Roman emperor Lucius Septimius Severus who was born in the Libyan town Leptis Magna chapter 9 The serious split in the Christian church caused by the church father Donatus chapter 11 The life and career of the famous church father Augustine of Hippo chapter 12 The Vandals who ruled most of North Africa for about one hundred years chapter 13 The African rebels Jugurtha and Tacfarinas who fought the Romans for several years pp 51 52 and 59 61 The life and career of the author Apuleius who wrote the famous Latin novel The Golden Ass pp 127 128If you are planning a trip to visit some of the many ancient sites in North Africa you should definitely read this book before you goPS For information see the following books The North African Stones Speak by Paul MacKendrick 1980 2000 North Africa The Roman Coast by Ethel Davies 2009 The World of Juba II and Kleopatra Selene Royal Scholarship on Rome's African Frontier Routledge Classical Monographs by Duane Roller 2003 2015