Nowadays Ténès is situated c.50 km west of Gouraya (Gunugu), the perfect distance for a day sailing by the Phoenicians. It is a small flat coast, where we find the old settlement (Al-Atika) next to a cape with the same name Ténès and the lighthouse of Sufism. Here we find Phoenician steles and pottery. There are also Phoenician graves on the west-coast next to the town with rings on the quayside on the rocks of Sidi Adasmas (Traghnia) for the landing of ships. On the cape the Phoenician/Punic necropolis has been found, but a large part of it is already fallen into the sea.
There are several explanations.
1. Carthenna is made of two words. Carth = town. Thenna = the name of the river in this region.
2. Carthennas is of Punic origin and consists of Qart = town and Tennes (Greek name). We are aware of a Sidonian king Tennes, but in reality he was known as Tabnit. His name means ‘model’ or ‘picture’ in Hebrew. Tabnit was translated by the Greeks to Thamn(e)i or Thammai(on) and finally Tennes. T b n y is also a king of
(1 Kings 16.21-22). Our Sidonian king
Tabnit (II) revolted to the Persians between 351/0-346/5 BC. His revolt failed
in the end and he was beheaded. Israel
was taken and destroyed. Maybe fugitives from Sidon Sidon
fled in that period all the way to Cartennae and called it the town of . Tennes
3.There could be a similarity in the name with Krṭn, Sbrtn, ṭp‘tn and if so, then the name is of Libyco-Berber origin.
Which one of this explanation is true, is impossible to say.
There is an old legend of 3000 years ago, that says: “In the time of Moses, the people of Ténès were renowned magicians. The pharaoh of
invited some of the best to come over and confront a thaumaturgic (making
wonders) Israelite, who slew all the magicians on the banks of the Nile” (Shaw).
Pomponius Mela (c.44/43 AD) reports in: De Chorographia I 31: “Diesseits davon – denn Io; liegt fast in der Mitte der Küste – sind die Städte Kartinna (Ténès] and Arsinna sowie das Kastell Quiza, der Laterus-Golf (Arzew) und der Sarbale Fluss..... (Kai Brodersen in: Kreuzfahrt durch die Alte Welt). Pomponius Mela calls the town Kartinna, another variation on Qart-tennes.
From c.150 BC Cartennae was already dominated by the Romans, although in name it was a part of the Numidian/Mauretanian kingdoms. Effective colonization begins between 43-25 BC together with Igilgili, Saldae, Rusazus, Rusguniae and Gunugu on the coast. In the interior: Tubusuctu, Aquae Calidae and Zucchabar. A Roman road is made from Cartennae to Castellum Tingitanum in the Zalacus mons. Augustus brought there a colony of veterans of the legion II Augusta. The feminine name of the place is Cartenna on the Wadi Allal and that was a Berber-town. The masculine name was Cartennas and that was former Phoenician port of call. Gaius Fulcinus Optatus defended successfully the town against attacks of the Baquates. The Greeks called this tribe: Bakoutai. Plinius mentions the tribe also.
Rogatus is a Donatist bishop. Vincentius is his Catholic successor. Bishop Rusticus is mentioned in 411 AD. St.Augustinus writes a letter, where the town also mentioned. After that the Vandals came and in that period a Roman woman buried all her jewelry in a hole in the ground and that was found intact in our days.
Qart-tennes was a small port of call in Phoenician/Punic times. It was a part of the Mauretan/Numidian kingdoms and in Roman times it became a Roman colony. It was however never an important town, although her size reached the circumference of 700 x 400m. Almost all the Roman buildings are now gone.
Salomon Reinach, Antiquités découvertes aux environs de Ténès – rapport sur une communication de M.Brunet, p.81. BCTH 1893.
Jacques Heurgon, Médaillon du trésor de Ténès, p.45-46. BCTH 1958.
F.Decret – M.Fantar, L’Afrique du Nord dans l’antiquité, Paris 1981.
G.Vuillemot, Réconnaissances aux échelles puniques d’Oranie, Autun, Musée Rolin, 1965.
Nicolas Carayon does not include the place in his catalog: “Les ports Phéniciens et Puniques, Geomorphologie et infrastructures, Strassbourg, 2008.”à but this time he seems to be wrong!