dinsdag 2 december 2014



Nowadays Bejaia is situated north of the mouth of the Oued Soummane on the coast of Algeria. In antiquity it was called by the Greeks Sâlda (Σάλδα). The Greek Ps.Skylax (111) called it Sida or Sild. In Latin it became Saldae. In Phoenician or Punic we have no name available. The Peutinger Table mentions the harbour as Syda. Is that on the map Bida and nowadays Gema‘ Saharig? Plinius mentions the town in HN 5.20. Strabo (XVII 3,12) mentions the importance of the harbour (Σίδα) and calls it “a large harbour”. Is it a Berber name? The presence of the d would support the hypothesis of a Libyco-Berber dialectal alternation of al and au. Thus Salda > Sauda > Suda? S.Gsell identifies however Saldae with Bejaia. E.Lipinski in Itineraria says, that the Phoenician-punic remains are slim and somewhat uncertain. Nevertheless there are important findings. Punic stelae with a figure with the arms lifted up in the pose of adoration. Stelae with pictures of the moon and the sun and with short inscriptions (RArch 8 [1851-2] p.574) and stelae with an indication of the so-called sign of Tanit in humanized form.
This looks very promising, but unfortunately all these stelae are now lost. Where did they go? There is more: A hoard of 2671 Punic coins were found in Bejaia from the final quarter in the 3rd century BC.

The modest Punic settlement in Mauretania Caesariensis became later a Roman colony. This Roman colony was founded by Augustus in 27-26 BC for veterans. Vespasianus sent also veterans to Saldae. In the 2nd and 3rd century AD Gaius Cornelius Peregrinus , a Decurion from Saldae was a military commander (tribunus) of the auxiliary garrison at Alauna Carvetorium in northern Britain. A bishop from Saldae is known in the 5th century AD. The Roman period has left abundant remains. Vestiges of the ramparts are still visible. Under the church we find the remains of a temple. The location of the forum is indicated by the bases of statues. The baths contains a large ornamental mosaic. Other public baths were on the site of the Civil Hospital with also mosaics; they depict the heads of Oceanus flanked by the Nereids. A third public bath was located near the high school. Cisterns and basins are still visible at several places in the upper town. They were fed by the Toudja aquaeduct. West of the middle town a rounded depression has been supposed to have been the site of a circus, a theatre and an amphitheatre. The remains of these buildings are gone. There is only a Roman inscription (CIL VIII 8938), that mentions “ludi circensis”. Many Roman sculptures, sarcophagi, capitals and votive stelae dedicated to Saturn were found.
S.Gsell, Les monuments antiques de l’Algérie (1901) pl.249-52 ; Atlas archéologique de l’Algérie (1911) 7, no.12
M.Leglay, Saturne Africain, Monuments II, Paris 1966 p.297-298
Lepelley, Cités p.505-508
Ch.Texier, Antiquités de Bougie, Revue Archéologique 8 (1851-52) p.574-576
J.P.Laporte, Saldae (Bougie) : un trésor de monnaies puniques enfoui vers la fin de la seconde guerre punique. Bulletin de la societé Nationale des Antiquaires de France 1998, p.211-224
A.Soltani, A propos du trésor monétaire de Bougie (Algérie), L’Africa Romana XIII, Roma 2000, p.1779-1782

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