This Phoenician settlement is located 33 km west of Cherchel in
. It is
the Qubba/Marabout of Sidi Brahim-el-Krouas next to Gouraya. Algeria
The Phoenician name of the settlement is not directly known, but an attempt to find it in Punic can be made by the following information:
The town is mentioned by
- Plinius (NH V, 20) > Gunugu is a colony of Augustus;
- CIV VIII 9071, 9423;
- Ptolemeus (IV 2,5) κανουίς ;
- It.Ant.(p.15) resp(tiblica) G(unugitanomm);
- Coin from Bocchus II of
Mauretania with neo-Punic
letters : g n g n.
The name Gunugu could be Libyco-Berber. We find g n w k n in the inscription CIS I 1443,3 and the corresponding K N K N in the inscription RIL 627. K.Jongeling gives a survey of all the Berber names ending on –kn op p.60-61 of his dissertation Personal names in neo-Punic inscriptions.
Excavations of the three necropolis have attested the existence of a pre-roman settlement of certainly the 3rd and 2nd century BC. The presence of Attic pottery proves however that the beginning of the settlement goes back at least to the 5th century BC. See: F.Villard (1959).
We find two necropolis on the eastern bay near Sidi Brahim and another on cape, which separates the western and eastern bay. In 1900 S.Gsell digs up the so-called “maison du charbonnier” = house of the charcoal-burner. It is a pit of 2 meters deep, without a staircase and a room nect to it for the deceased.
Shipping and trade.
Gunugu had overseas connections with
Sicily and Spain and even with Lixus on the coast of and
that is surprising for such a small settlement. In particular the connection
with Villaricos is important. Here we see in both towns the ability of
maintaining and painting egg-shells of the ostrich in almost the same way. Morocco
Maybe it has something to do with the pattern of colonisation by the Phoenicians. Briefly: In the beginning they took the northern route along Crete –
Sicily – Sardinia to . In Spain they arrived already in the 9th-8th
century BC and made there permanent colonies. On the way back they took the
southern route along the North-African coast and made there only semi-permanent
ports of call. When the Greeks however were threatening to cut off the lifeline
to the homeland in the Spain Lebanon,
then it was necessary to reinforce the settlements halfway in Africa, Sicily and Sardinia in 6th-4th
century BC. Most of the North-African Phoenician settlements as permanent towns
begin in the 6th century, but Gunugu is an exception. The beginning
here start at least a century earlier. I could elaborate much more about this,
but here it is enough to understand, why the spread of the art of ostrich
egg-shell painting went probably from Villaricos in to Gunugu in North-Africa. Spain
Gunugu is a centre for the painting and decoration of ostrich egg-shells. The town joins a very old tradition, that started already before 3000 BC at Bahrein! From there it spread to Sumeria ->
–> Lebanon and by the
Phoenicians all over the Mediterranean.
Outstanding are the tombs of Djidjelli and Gouraya, with a rich series of the
receptacle type with undecorated whole shells and three-quarter shells. The
Gouraya examples are interesting for the iconographical repertoire painted on
the three quarter shells. The geometrical and floral motifs, similar to those
found at ,
do not exclude use of human and animal representations: a winged female figure,
a male and an advancing ostrich enliven Phoenico-Punic iconographical
influences with a popular stylistic language. In the three quarter shells the
type of decoration is in yellow ochre and its style recall complicated designs:
four metopes framed vertically by bands with geometrical motifs and
horizontally by smooth, figured bands (See: Moscati p.456-463). Carthage
The geometric pattern and even signs/marks are almost the same, as we can see in Villaricos in
The shells of Gunugu are broken due to earthquakes except one, says M.Astruc
(1954). The signes on the shells of Villaricos are the oldest (6th
century BC) according to Astruc. Thereafter comes Gunugu with her signs of the
shells in the 5th century BC. But later Caubet in 1995 thinks that
the shells may go back to the 7th or perhaps 8th century
BC. See: A.Caubet: Documents
puniques: les oeufs dáutruche de Gouraya, Actes de IIIe Congrès international
des Etudes phéniciennes et puniques, Tunis, 1995 Vol I p.253-259. Moreover there is S.Moscati in the
catalogue I Fenici (1988), who claims that the shells from Villaricos are from
the 8th century BC. It is still uncertain, what the paintings on the shells
mean. Is it religious or just an ornament? For some strange reason this habit
of paintings dies out after the 2nd century BC. Spain
Gunugu is a remarkable settlement, because we find there also the incredible amount of at least 22 neo-Punic inscriptions. K.Jongeling traces down the personal names: g n s (N17),
g s m? (N18), z b y g y s/š (N9), y g y š w m (N12), m g w Ṣ (N11). See : Personal names in neo-Punic inscriptions,
There has also been found an Etruscan inscription, engraved on a bronze disk, at Sidi Brahim. It comes from the 3rd century BC. You can read here (p)unicum Lartha. See: Y.Liebert, Une inscription étrusque d’Algérie, Revue des Etudes Latines 74 (1996) p.38-46.
Some history :
S.Gsell, Fouilles de Gouraya, HAAN II, p.161-162,
F.Missonier, Fouilles dans la nécropole de Gouraya, Melanges de l’école francaise de Rome 50 (1933) p.87-119.
M.Astruc, Supplément aux fouilles de Gouraya, Libyca 2 (1954) p.9-48.
Mazard, Corpus Nummorum Numidiae Mauretaniarque, p.172-173, Paris 1955.
F.Villard, Vases attique du Ve siècle av.J.C.à Gouraya, Libyca 7 (1959) p.7-13.
Lepelley, les cités de l’Afrique romaine du Bas Empire, Paris, 1979-1981.
Leschi, Fouilles de la nécropole punique de Gouraya, BCTH 1932-1933, p.277-278.