dinsdag 9 december 2014

TAKSEBT

RUSIPPISIR???
 
 
 
 

This is probably Cape Tedles on the Algerian coast between Azeffoun and Dellys in Kabyle. The Phoenician name is partly known as R’š [špr]. Rus Sippir would mean “beautiful cape”.
Cape Rosemary is an other explanation, as E.Lipinski states in Itineraria Phoenicia (p.308).
Ptolemeus (IV 2.8) calls the place Ρουσουβιρσρ = Rousoubirsir. In Latin it becomes Rusuvisir or Rusippisir. The Peutinger table (3rd-4th century AD) draw the location as follows between Iomnium and Rusazus:
                            42 miles                                         23 miles
Iomnium -------------------------------- Rusippisir ------------------- Rusazus
 
The distance between Rusazus (Azeffoun) and Rusippisir (Cape Tedles) is pretty accurate, but between Iomnium and Rusippisir it is very problematic, because Iomnium must be an island. The Phoenician name of Iomnium starts with ’y…. and that means literally ‘island’. The only significant island along the Kabyle coast is situated in front of Tigzirt and that is only 2 miles away from Cape Tedles and not 42 miles as is shown on the Peutinger table.
If the allocation of Rusippisir at Cape Tedles is correct then the Peutinger table is wrong and the maker of this table must have made a mistake.
 
Th.Shaw was in 1743 the first European who noticed the many ruins at Taksebt on Cape Tedles (Voyage dans plusieurs provinces de la Barbarie et du Levant, Den Haag, 1743, p.110-111). Taksept/Taksebt means in the local dialect Kasbah “fortified place” and that is what it was. There are still relics from Roman times: Thermae (baths), a big church, a chapel and a circular mausoleum, which is called by the local people “the lighthouse”.
In 1886 Pallu de Lessert pays further attention to Taksebt and he thinks that this is the Colonia Rusuccuritana, which is also mentioned by Plinius (NH V,2), who claims that the emperor Claudius gives to the town the title: Rusuccurium civitate honoratum a Claudio. In the view of Pallu Lessert the Municipium Rusuccuru is the village of Tigzirt.
Also P.Gavault and Ch.Bourliez (Tigzirt et Taksebt, Rev.Afr.1893) emphasize the peculiar character of the two settlements: A harbour and Municipium at Tigzirt and a fortress and Colonia at Taksebt.  Mention is made of some legends: “The elder people of this land told us that there were two prices out of the same family and they governed the land with wisdom. Tigzirt and Taksebt were two quarters of the same town, where in between they were connected by a large bridge. The father ruled in the west and the son in the east.”
“In Roman times the tribe of the Anii lived at Taksebt and the tribe of the Gesii at Tigzirt.” An inscription (CIL VIII 20715) makes a statement of a marriage of Anna from Taksebt with Julius Felix of Tigzirt of the tribe Quirini, but they called themselves both Rusuccuritani
In 1914 J.Carcopino tries to explain the difference and cohesion between Taksebt and Tigzirt in his publication in Mélanges d’épigraphie algérienne III: Tigzirt et Taksebt, Rev.Afr.1914, p.342.
In the meantime the discovery of several Punic and Roman memory stones took place at Taksebt and Tigzirt. Those of Taksebt are Punic and two of them have also the so-called sign of Tanit. On the beaches of Taksebt urns has been found with animal relics. A sanctuary of Baal Hammon must have been there. Punic influence is demonstrated at Taksebt by at least five Neo-Punic steles from the 1st century BC, as well as by later steles from the 2nd-3rd centuries AD, some of which still surmounted urns with cremated remains of animals. This circumstance shows that there was a tophet at the site, dedicted to Baal Hamon, later named Saturnus.
From the years 209-212 AD (during Septimus Severus) comes a broken inscription, that has been found at Taksebt in which the name Rusuccuru is stated as a colony. Pallu de Lessert writes about this in: “Lettre à M.Héron de Villefosse, sur la position de Rusuccurium » CRAI 1886, pp.270-276 :
MARCI…
LAECEL…
PYBLI…
TOAB…
EM…
NT…
VAVREN…
ITFLA…
VSIN…
TIVS…
LIBER…
CVRA…
RITA…
The last two fragments could mean Rusuccurarita.
In the inscription CIL VIII 20707, found in Taksebt, C.Domitius Donatus confirms that Taksebt is a colony. This inscription is dated from the 3rd century AD.  This is as the time, that the Romans make a new harbour on the eastside of Cape Tedles at Sidi Khaled.
 
With the arrival of the Vandals the settlement is abandoned. If Taksebt = Rusippisir, then the occupation of the place lasted about a thousand years from the 6th century BC with a Punic station to the end of 4th century AD with the arrival of the Vandals.
 
The observant reader will have noticed that there are quite a few question marks in the allocation of Rusippisir to Taksebt. We see the name Rusuccuru come back several times in Taksebt itself, while the name Rusippisir is barely addressed. Were the 19th century and early 20th century scholars so wrong to place Rusuccuru at Tigzirt / Taksebt? There are, however, made more recent finds, which can also link Rusuccuru to Dellys. I will say something about that in one of the following contributions (in Dellys among others). Anyway, the Kabyle coastal towns remain a great puzzle.
 
Some Literature:
BCTH 1894 : GAVAULT (P.), Les fouilles de Tigzirt, p. 278.
HERON DE VILLEFOSSE (A.), Inscriptions trouvées à Tigzirt, près de Dellys; rapport sur une communica­tion de M. Gavault, p. 304.
G.HALLIER, Le mausolée de Taksebt (Algérie) in CRAI 1992, p.235-248.

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