chapter  7
10 Pages

North Africa

The term ‘Africa’ is a frustratingly ambiguous one when used of the ancient Roman world. During the late Republic two Roman provinces were located west of Egypt in the north of the African continent. Cyrenaica (administered together with Crete) comprised what is today the eastern part of modern Libya, while the original Roman province of Africa (Africa Vetus) lay in modern Tunisia. Since its conquest in the second century BC, the province of Africa had attracted a steady stream of immigrants from Italy, with the founding of colonies and the establishment of a prosperous merchant class. To the west it was bordered by the kingdom of Numidia, the last of whose rulers, Juba I, was a man of considerable ambition, with designs on the province. These came to nothing, and Juba was forced to commit suicide in 46 BC, after Julius Caesar’s victory at Thapsus. Caesar created a new province, Africa Nova, from Juba’s kingdom, and some time before 27 the two Africas were combined by Augustus into a single province.1