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Map showing Auzia just south of Algiers (Roman Icosium)

Auzia was a Roman colony in Berber north Africa. It is now called Sour El-Ghozlane, a town and district seat in central-northern Algeria, located 150 km south-east of the capital Algiers.


Auzia probably took the name from the Berber pagan god "Auzius", because under Augustus a Roman castrum was founded near a small Berber village with that name [1] The city constituted of a castrum (fort) and a vicus (small city): Auzia achieved autonomous status as municipium in the second century and later was renamed Colonia Septima Aurelia Auziense by emperor Septimius Severus. As a Roman colonia, its people received full status of Roman citizenship rights.

Tacitus wrote about a "Castellum Auziense", as the headquarters of the Roman garrison commander in Mauretania Caesariensis's central limes (border fortifications).

Auzia, according to historian Lawless, was a vicus that achieved independent status from the castrum (fort) garrison and had a forum (market square) and an important pagan temple, later converted into a Christian church. The Roman settlement (probably with nearly 4,000 inhabitants around 200 AD) was surrounded by farms[2]

Auzia had even a theater and a small "circus" for chariot races, created around 227 AD according to epigraphic evidence[3]

Auzia achieved prosperity mainly because it was at the center of some roads in Roman Africa: from Auzia there were roads toward the Mediterranean sea (Caesarea) and the Saharan interior with the Atlas mountains.[4]

In 290 AD, however, the Bavares tribe attacked Auzia and the city suffered huge destruction. Vandals and Byzantine troops occupied temporarily the city.

It was reduced to a small village when Arabs conquered the region at the end of the seventh century.

Former and titular bishopric[edit]

Christianity was present in the Auzia area during the third century. It achieved the status of episcopal see.

The Ancient bishopric Auzia was nominally revived in 1594 as a Roman Catholic titular see of the lowest (episcopal) rank. It had many incumbents until its suppression in 1913.

It was restored in 1933, and since was nearly continuously filled.


  1. ^ History of Auzia (in French)
  2. ^ Lawless, R. Mauretania Caesartiensis: anarcheological and geographical survey Section: The Roman Civilian Sites. p.122-195
  3. ^ Auzia "Circus"
  4. ^ Auzia as center of roads in Mauretania



  • Lawless, R. Mauretania Caesartiensis: anarcheological and geographical survey. Durham University. Durham, 1969 Auzia
  • Smith Reid, James. The Municipalities of the Roman Empire The University of Michigan Press. Chicago, 1913

See also[edit]