Africa (Roman province)

Africa in ancient times was the Latin name for a Roman province. Contrast, was for the continent Africa (except Egypt and Aithiopia ), more precisely, first west only for North Africa of the Nile, which the Romans known from this continent region, often the term used Libya.

The province was created after the Punic wars in 146 BC. It included the present-day Tunisia and parts of Libya. The boundary between the Roman province and the Numidian kingdom was the fossa regia, one of Scipio the Younger line of demarcation drawn. Since the Romans had destroyed Carthage, Utica became capital of the new province. 105 BC western parts of Numidia were after the victory of Gaius Marius over Jugurtha incorporated into the Roman territory, and after the victory of Caesar at Thapsus in 46 BC Caesar formed from the territory of the Numidian king Juba I, a supporter of the defeated Pompey, the province of Africa nova ( " new Africa "). To whose territory included large parts of Numidia (now Algeria) and Tripolitania ( in present-day Libya). The existing province was henceforth called Africa Vetus ( "Old Africa " ) or Africa propria ( " real Africa ").

27 BC Augustus united the provinces of Africa vetus and nova Africa to Africa proconsularis. Capital was Carthage. The governorship of Africa was next to that of Asia 's most prestigious, especially as the proconsul of Africa long time the only senatorial governors held an independent command of a Roman Legion - something that was otherwise reserved for the imperial legate.

Under Diocletian the old province was divided into three parts at the beginning of Late Antiquity: the Africa proconsularis, in the Byzacena and Tripolitiana. There were Numidia, Mauretania Mauretania Sitifensis and Caesariensis who joined west. These six provinces formed the late Roman North Africa.

The province was generally regarded as one of the richest of the Roman Empire and the breadbasket of the Western Empire, Carthage, even as the second largest city of the West equal to Rome, as well as the province was generally highly urbanized. Your greatest prosperity fell into the 2nd and early 3rd century; a renewed flowering started at 300 and stopped in the 5th century. The Roman emperors of the house of Severus were originally from Leptis Magna, a city in the province of Africa. Also significant Christian leaders came from the province ( as Lactantius and Marius Victorinus ) and lived there for some time ( Augustine of Hippo ), as did the late antique poets Corippus. The extent to which the Punic or Carthaginian language as slang stopped beside Latin for a long time, is unclear and controversial.

In the province are attested early Christians (the first proof of the existence of African Christians dates back to the late 2nd century) - developed here, Doctor of the Church as Tertullian, Cyprian and Augustine later than first a Christian theology in Latin - and the Municipality of Carthage was long the major competitor of the Roman bishop to claim to leadership in the West. The Christians Africas remained predominantly Catholic (after the confrontations with the Donatists in the fourth / fifth century, which formed a significant minority ), despite the penetration of the Arian Vandals, who conquered Africa in the 30s of the 5th century. The invaders founded their own kingdom here and tore the naval supremacy in the western Mediterranean in itself. The loss of North Africa played a not unimportant role in the downfall of the Western Roman Empire. In the 6th century Africa but was recaptured by the Byzantine general Belisarius in the order of Emperor Justinian I ( 533/34 ). The view of the earlier research, this was the decisive blow to the late antique economy of Africa have been, has been revised today: The area experienced rather again a second flowering and as Exarchate of Carthage from 590 even a certain independence.

The area fell towards the end of the 7th century, the Islamic Arabs, who called Ifriqiya. With the conquest of Carthage 698 the history of the Roman province of Africa was finally completed; and also the Roman- Christian culture found here soon end. Unlike the Eastern Churches ( Copts, Syrians, Armenians, Greeks ), which persisted for centuries under Islamic rule, the North African Christianity disappeared completely.