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Afri (singular, Afer) was the Latin name for an ancient people located on the shores of the southern Mediterranean Sea near the city of Carthage, nowadays Tunisia. The first record of their existence was made during the Punic Wars (264-146 BC) between ancient Rome and Carthage. The name may be connected with Phoenician `afar, dust[1] (also found in other Semitic languages), or with Berber `ifri, cave (see Tataouine). The classical historian Flavius Josephus asserted that the region had been invaded by descendants of Abraham's grandson Epher, who gave it their name.

The singular Afer was used as a Roman cognomen for people from the region of Carthage (see Afer).

The most common etymology for the continent of Africa is traced to this group. The Romans referred to the region as Africa terra (land of the Afri), based on the stem Afr- with the adjective suffix -ic- (giving Africus, Africa, Africum in the nominative singular of the three Latin genders). Following the defeat of Carthage in the Third Punic War, Rome set up the province of Africa. Arabic converted this Latin name into Ifriqiya.[2]

The name is still extant today as Ifira and Ifri-n-Dellal in Greater Kabylia (Algeria). A Berber tribe was called Beni-Ifren in the Middle Ages, and Ifurace was the name of a Tripolitan people in the 6th century. Troglodytism was frequent in northern Africa and still occurs today in southern Tunisia. Herodotus wrote that the Garamantes, a North African people, used to live in caves. The Greeks also called an African people who lived in caves Troglodytae.

See also

References

  1. ^ Venter & Neuland, NEPAD and the African Renaissance (2005), p. 16
  2. ^ Names of countries, Decret & Fantar, 1981

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