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The Roman empire in the time of Hadrian (ruled 117-38 AD), showing, in northwestern Africa, the imperial province of Mauretania Caesariensis (Algeria)
Province of Mauretania Caesariensis highlighted
Northern Africa under Roman rule.

Mauretania Caesariensis was a Roman province located in northwestern Africa. It was the easternmost of the North African Roman provinces, mainly in present Algeria, with its capital at Caesaria (hence the name Caesariensis; one of many cities simply named after the imperial cognomen that had become a title), now Cherchell.

Contents

Historical background

In the first century AD, Roman Emperor Claudius divided the westernmost Roman province in Africa, named Mauretania (land of the people of the Mauri, hence the word Moors), into Mauretania Caesariensis and Mauretania Tingitana.

Both provinces were assigned to the administrative diocese of the vicarius of Africa, in the pretorian prefecture of Italia et Africa, while Tingitana was an outpost of Hispaniae (the diocese on the Iberian peninsula, under the prefecture of Galliae 'the Gauls'). Caesarea was a major center of Jewry before 330, Sitifis one of the centres of the soldier cult of Mithras. Christianity was spread throughout in the 4th and 5th century.

Under Diocletian's Tetrarchy-reform, the easternmost part was broken off as a tiny separate province, Sitifensis, called after its inland capital Sitifis (Sétif) with a significant port at Saldae (presently Béjaïa).

Religion

Among the ruling class, Trinitarian Christianity was replaced by Arianism under the Germanic kingdom of the Vandals, which was established in 430, when the Vandals crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and extinguished by the Byzantine armies circa 533, joining their North African territories in a new, pretorian prefecture of Africa now ruled from Constantinople, later transformed into the Exarchate of Carthage. The Exarchate was in its turn overrun by the Muslim caliphate under the Ummayad dynasty, ending Late Antique Roman culture there; most of former Mauretania Caesariensis became part of the westernmost Islamic province, henceforth called (al-)Maghrib.

Economy

The principal exports from Caesariensis were purple dyes and valuable woods; and the Amazigh or Mauri were highly regarded by the Romans as soldiers, especially light cavalry. They produced one of Trajan's best generals, Lusius Quietus, and the emperor Macrinus.

See also

Sources

  • Westermann, Großer Atlas zur Weltgschichte (in German)
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