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Timgad Archaeological Site

Timgad Archaeological Site



Location: 35 km from Batna   Map

Original name: Colonia Marciana Ulpia Traiana Thamugadi

Found: 100 AD

Entrance Fee: adult DA20, children DA10

Open: 8:30am- 12pm, 1:30-5pm Sun- Fri

Emperor Trajan




Brief History of Timgad Archaeological Site

Timgad Archaeological Site is an ancient Roman city situated 35 km from Batna in Algeria. You can tell Timgad is a Roman town just by looking at its street grid. The layout of the city is near perfect. The center is taken by forum with a magnificent theatre situated just south of it.


Timgad was constructed in 100 AD Ex nihilo ("out of nothing" Latin) by the Emperor Trajan. It was initially established as a military fortress and served as a defense against Berber tribes in the Aures Mountain. Most of original residents of the Timgad were veterans of the Roman army who loyally served the emperor in his campaigns against the Parthian Empire. Original layout of Timgad was intended to house 15,000 residents in a perfect square shaped fort. However the population grew rapidly and the shape of the original city was distorted. Timgad had its own amphitheater, theater, magnificent triumphal arch and numerous public and private buildings. Streets and squares were laid by a polished stone.


Originally the lands around the ancient city of Timgad were fertile and very productive. However it changed partially due to collapse of the irrigational system and partially due to invasion of Vandals from Europe in the 5th century. Ironically this is a reason why the city survived in a fairly good conditions. There has been virtually no human presence since the 7th century AD. Most of damage came during Byzantine Re-conquest then Eastern Roman Empire tried to re- establish its power over original lands owned  by Rome. Byzantine soldiers constructed a fortress just to the South of the city. Unfortunately they were too lazy to cut rock themselves. Instead they simply used it from the Timgad numerous private houses.



Christianity in the region

Christianity appears on Timgad no later than a third century AD. The new religion was gaining strength and enjoyed relative peace in the hiding from the Roman officials. It all changed under leadership of a intelligent, energetic and very capable emperor Diocletian. He attempted to modernize political and cultural life of the huge empire after years of unrest and constant civil wars by strengthening his control over its people. Christianity obviously did not fit into this image of a perfect World. Soon persecutions started hitting all corners of the country. Timgad was no exception to that.


However, unlike previous pagan persecutions Diocletian understood that this monotheistic religion already settled too deep. Even emperor's own wife was a Christian. So he came up with a compromise. Christians could save their lives if they would hand over their holy books. Some refused and were took death of martyrs, some gave up their sacred texts. Yet many others chose to write fake Gospels under different names so that they could escape death. This is one of the main reasons why so many apocryphal texts date back those times. Popular journalism today likes to advertise these texts as something controversial or ground breaking. In reality, however, most of them were never used since they were created exclusively for preservation of the true books of the Bible.


In the end persecutions did not achieve their final goal. After death of Diocletian, emperor Constantine issued his Milan Edict of 313 AD which legalized Christianity. However it created a new problem. The complication arose with those people who gave up their religion and announced coming back to worshipping gods of the pagan pantheon. Many returned to Christianity after it became legal in an empire. Bishop Donatus Magnus along with a large Christian congregation attempted to keep "traitors" away. North Africa became the hub of zealous Christians that became known as Donatists. And Timgad had one of the largest communities in the region. This harsh treatment of those who denounced the name of Jesus Christ, however, was not widely accepted or positively viewed. Most of the Christian bishops decided that such transgression could be forgiven. This led to eventual schism of Donatists from the rest of the Church.










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