Timgad
Timgad
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Cultural Algeria Arab States Commune Of Timgad, Wilaya (province) Of Batna

Timgad, which lies on the northern slopes of the Aurès mountains in a site of great natural beauty, is a consummate example of a Roman military colony created ex nihilo by the Emperor Trajan in AD 100 under the name of Thamugadi. With its square enclosure and orthogonal design based on the cardo and decumanus, the two perpendicular routes running through the city, it is an excellent example of Roman town planning at its height, while it would have served as a compelling image of the grandeur of Rome on Numidian soil.

Inscribed in a square enceinte measuring 355 m on each side, the layout of Timgad is based on a precise orthogonal grid, originating from the decumanus, which follow the axis of the military road from Theveste to Lambesis, and the north-south axis of the cardo. The result is a network of insulae of regular proportions, which is interrupted only to the south in order to provide space for large public buildings: the forum and its annexes (basilica and curia), temples, a theatre with a seating capacity of 3,500, a market and baths. In the north-east sector, there are other baths and a public library, conforming with the network of insulae, open into the cardo.

By the mid-2nd century, the rapid growth of the city could no longer be constricted by the narrow confines of its original foundation. Timgad spread beyond the perimeters of the ramparts, and several major public buildings were constructed in the new quarters to the west and to the south, such as the capitolium, temples, markets and baths. Most of these buildings date from the Severan period when the city enjoyed its 'golden age', which is further attested to by immense private residential buildings such as the House of Sertius or the House of Hermaphrodite.

During the Early Empire, the buildings were frequently restored, the streets were paved with large rectangular slabs of limestone, and particular attention was paid to the disposition of public conveniences. The houses sparkled under their decor of sumptuous mosaics, which were intended to offset the absence of precious marbles.

During the Christian period, Timgad was a bishopric which became renowned at the end of the 4th century when Bishop Optat became the spokesman for the Donatist heresy. After the Vandal invasion of 430, Timgad was destroyed by tribesmen from the Aurès mountains at the end of the 5th century. The city saw a revival of activity after the Byzantine reconquest in the 6th century, but the Arab invasion brought about the destruction of Thamugadi, where occupation ceased definitively after the 8th century.

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