donderdag 11 december 2014

IOMNIUM

IOMNIUM
 
 
 
 
 
 

Probably a town, that is identical with Tigzirt 100 km east of Algiers on the coast of Algeria between Dellys and Azeffoun. The Phoenician name = ’y-[’mn?]. It could have several meanings, such as: isle of fastness, isle of the craftman, isle of Amon. In the Greek language (Ps.Skylax) it could have been Ioulios (Ιουλίου), if that corresponds with Iomnium (Ιομνίου). One should reckon here with a scribal error, possibly occasioned by the resemblance of the place name to a Greek word. Since Ps.Skylax generally uses Greek or Graecized forms of place names, ’Іουλίου may have been inspired by ίουλίς, as a red sea fish was called (See: Itineraria Phoenicia, E.Lipinski, p.398). In  Latin the name of the place is: Iomnium. In the Itinerarium Antonini it is called only as a harbour. Ps.Skylax mentions ’ Іουλίου άκρα immediately after Sida and neglects Rusazus, adding that there was “a city and a harbour”. The usual identification of the site with Cherchel/Iol (modern Ašrašal) is not convincing because of the qualification άκρα (=promontory), that hardly suits Cherchel/Iol.
When we however identify Iomnium with present Tigzirt, then the Peutinger Table does not fit at all this allocation!
                            42 miles                                       23 miles
Tigzirt--------------------------------------W.Da’as---------------------Bejaia
IOMNIUM!                    Azeffoun     RUSIPPISIR??                   RUSAZUS??
 
The actual distance between Rusippisir (Cape Tedles) and the isle before Tigzirt is only two miles. That is significant, because on the Kabyle coast there is only one island with reasonable measures in combination with a cape and that is in front of Tigzirt. The drawer of the Peutinger Table must have made here a mistake, when he draw the distances to Rusippisir and Rusazus.
 
Iomnium/Tigzirt is a perfect location for the Phoenicians with an island, a bay, a cape and a small river. The hinterland is protecting this location by difficult accessible mountains. It must have been so, that the Phoenicians used this allocation, but we can’t find anything from that early period, despite 4 years of excavations between 1951-1955.
Is by Iomnium meant only the island or also the mainland (=Tigzirt)? The island is too small for a complete settlement. It has also hardly any anchorage possibilities. The harbour settlement must therefore have been on the mainland. And that is exact the spot where later the Roman town was erected. That is possibly the reason why we can’t find anything from the simple relay station out of the Phoenician period. Even from the Numidian period there are no relics to be seen. Instead we find extensive ruins there with Roman walls, temples, thermae and a basilica at a point jutting into the Mediterranean. What seems to have been the administrative centre of the town is found near the end of this point. It undoubtedly included the forum as well as a very well preserved building and a temple. The beginning of the Roman took place in 147-145 BC with the realisation of a barrack surrounded by a defensive wall to repel attacks. Once peace in Mauretania was restored by the emperor Augustus, the local population built relationships with the garrison barracks, allowing the passage of the military establishment into a civilian village run by judges appointed by the authorities of nearby Rusuccuru (actual Dellys). This period saw the birth of “rich houses” belonging to notable romans. Most of it was however built in the 2nd and 3rd century AD. M.Maurice Euzenat describes them in his publication: “L’Historie municale de Tigzirt, Rusuccuru colonia et municipium” in: Mélanges d’archéologie et d’histoire, 1955 T67) p.126-146. And once again the name Rusuccuru comes forward. That is no surprise because in 1858 an inscription was found by M.Barbier in Tigzirt in which the words “Genius municipii Rusuccuritani” and “Rusuccuritanis, decurio ab ordine allectus” were included. This inscription preserved in situ on the lintel of a temple at Tigzirt stated that the building was dedicated to the tutelary of the municipium of Rusuccuru.
CIL VIII 8995:
Genio Municipii Rusuccuritani
Iulius Rustici fil(ius) Quir(ina tribu) Felix Rusuccuritanius
Decurio ab ordine allectus praef(ectus) pro IIuiris
Atque ab ordine electus IIuiri(m) item IIuiri(m) q(uin)q(uennalium)
Flamen Augg(ustorum III) augur perpetuus deposita ad so
Lum domo sua ueteri templum et statuam su pecu
Nia fecit et dedica[uit]
 
Of course this is not a solid proof, that Rusuccuru = Tigzirt. The inscription can belong to another town. The ruins of this temple Genio still exists, but it was in fact the curie of the municipium (209-212 AD). Furthermore there was a portico for the performance of holy ceremonies. In Roman times there was a temple for Saturnus: “templum dei invicti Frugiferi”. In and around the basilica were found 50 memory-stones from the 2nd and 3rd century AD. On it one can aware Punic symbols. The population in the Roman period have still Punic names as Barribal, Didosa, Saturninus, Saturnina. There are also local names as Anabus and Iugurtha.
CIl VIII 20715
In this inscription it is stated, that Annia and Julius Felix are married and that they call themselves Rusuccuritani! This is the period, that the tribe Anni lived on the cape (Taksebt) and the tribe Gesii lived in the harbour-settlement (Tigzirt).
The town was now administered by an elected board from the population. In the early 4th century AD – with the expansion of Christianity – was ordered the construction of a Christian church near the older basilica. The old basilica has three naves with galleries over the aisles. There was a baptistery of polyfoil plan to the NE. Nearby public baths and an ornamental mosaic can still be seen. Inscriptions and statues are found scattered in the modern town.
 
The Vandals conquered temporarily the town, but the Byzantines in 533 AD expelled them en reinstated the roman way of life. In the 6th century Iomnium was nothing more than a hamlet. The arrival of the Arabs destroyed however partially the hamlet, but until the 8th century the hamlet survived as a small community of Romanised Berbers and some Christians. Iomnium disappeared after the 10th century AD. From Iomnium only the island with cactuses, wild olives and figs remained and of course the name Tigzirt, that in the Amazigh language signifies “Island”.

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