Mauri (from which derives the English term "Moors") was the Latin designation for those ancient Berber peoples inhabiting the territory of modern Algeria and Morocco, Roman Mauretania, west of Numidia. The Latin name is an adoption of the name Mauroi (Μαῦροι) in Greek ethnography.
Much of that territory was annexed to the Roman empire in 44 AD, as the province of Mauretania, later divided into Mauretania Caesariensis and Mauretania Tingitana. Groups of Mauri continued to inhabit the desert regions south of the Roman borderland. The name Mauri was applied to people of the entire region. "They were called Maurisi by the Greeks", wrote Strabo, "and Mauri by the Romans." The Mauri were trading partners of Carthage. During the second Punic war between Carthage and Rome, two Mauri Numidian kings took different sides, Syphax with Carthage, Masinissa with the Romans, decisively so at Zama.
Thereafter, the Mauri entered into treaties with Rome. King Jugurtha responded to violence against merchants with war. Juba, a later king, was a friend of Rome. Eventually, the Roman Empire incorporated the region as the provinces of Mauretania Caesariensis and Mauretania Tingitana. The area around Carthage was already part of the province of Africa. Roman rule was effective enough so that these provinces became integrated into the empire.
Neither Vandal nor Byzantine could extend effective rule; the interior remained under Mauri Berber control. For more than 50 years, the Berbers of Algeria resisted Arab armies from the east. Among its memorable resistance were the forces led by the Berber Muslim king Aksel in 680 AD and the Christian queen Dihya she was the Berber priestess of the Aures during 690–701. And by 710 CE, or the 92nd lunar year after the Hijra, Berbers of north Africa had become Muslims and then the Arab Muslims dominated North Africa under the Islamic empire of Umayyad Caliphate.
- Lewis and Short, Latin Dictionary, 1879 s.v. "Mauri"
- Strabo, Geographica (c.17 CE.) at XVIII,3,ii (cited by Rene Basset in Moorish Literature (N.Y., Collier 1901) at iii.
- Jamil M. Abun-Nasr, A History of the Maghrib (Cambridge Univ., 1971) at 27, 38 & 43; Michael Brett and Elizabeth Fentress, The Berbers (Blackwell 1996) at 14, 24, 41–54; Henri Terrasse, History of Morocco (Casablanca: Atlantides 1952) at 39–49, esp. 43–44; Serge Lancel, Carthage (Librairie Artheme Fayard 1992, Blackwell 1995) at 396–401; Glenn Markoe, The Phoenicians, Berkeley, CA: University of California, 2000, pp. 54–56.
- "The conquest of North Africa and Berber resistance" in General History of Africa.