|Location||Sidi Ayache, Kénitra Province, Rabat-Salé-Kénitra, Morocco|
Thamusida was a Berber, Carthaginian, and Roman river port that was near the present-day towns of Kénitra and Mehdia in Morocco. Under the Roman Empire, it formed a part of the province of Mauretania Tingitana.
The Punic form of the name was TMDʿT (𐤕𐤌𐤃𐤏𐤕). Because the original name intended a hard, breathy /tʰ/ sound instead of the usual English /θ/, the same name is also sometimes written Tamusida or Tamusia. It is probably identical with the Thymiateria mentioned by Pseudo-Scylax.
The city originally was a Berber settlement. It was used as a Carthaginian trading post and was about 48 kilometers (30 mi) from Shalat (the Roman Sala and modern Chellah). It issued its own bronze coins.
It was occupied by Romans in the first years of Augustus rule. There were a military camp and a nearby little city, until Claudius enlarged Thamusida. According to historian Stefano Camporeale, the auxiliary unit that built the Roman camp in Thamusida was probably the Cohors secunda Syrorum civium Romanorum in the second half of the first century (ceramic evidence confirms this chronology): this camp (with annexed "vicus") was one of the largest camps of the whole province of Mauretania Tingitana and measured about 2 hectares (4.9 acres). Under the Antonines, a temple was built to worship Venus. Later the settlement grew progressively, and by the end of the second century or the early third century, it was surrounded by a wall that included a total area of about 15 hectares.
During the reign of Claudius, strengthened structures multiply in Thamusida. It probably sheltered an active port to which testify the many remains of Amphoras, and became a point of unloading and a Roman supply centre. Under the Flavians, a Roman military garrison remained on the spot. The city gave signs of growth; a temple was raised (the Temple with embossing), as well as thermal baths and dwelling houses including one with a central court. Under Trajan or Hadrian, a new structuring of urban space seemed to take place by conferring to the city an orthogonal urbanism plan with thermal baths and a small temple dedicated to Venus-Astarte. The development and the enrichment of the city conveyed in the continuing enlarging and transformation of the river thermal baths, in the construction of new temples bordering the bank of Sebou river and in new dwellings such as the "House of Pavement" which adopted the plan of the rich residences of Volubilis and Spain. Modest houses, workshops and utility buildings occupied many districts. In addition to its commercial and industrial functions which are behind its development, the town of Thamusida was to play a significant military role. It was populated by veterans and under Marcus Aurelius was built the most imposing fortress of Tingitane so to ensure the protection of the civilian population. Under Commodus or Septimius Severus, an enclosure was built and which reemployed funerary steles and crushed a part of the pavement house, that indicated the fact that the work was dictated by the fear of a close or remote danger. In the 3rd century, the city was always active as showed the extent of the river thermal baths and the density of the ceramic founds is the spot until occurred the final abandonment which took place between 274 and 285, but it was not known if it was due to the departure of the Army or to a posterior cause. Scattered finds and some walls of Thamusida attested of a ephemeral occupation posterior to the date of evacuation.— Mark Ellingham
In the third century, Thamusida become a mostly Christian city with a population of nearly 7,000 inhabitants. The site was abandoned around AD 285, when Diocletian moved the Roman limes of Mauretania Tingitana to the north, near Lixus. There were some inhabitants—according to recent archeological discoveries—in Thamusida for another century after the Roman abandonment. But with the Vandal invasion, the city disappeared around AD 425.
Modern archaeological site
The site was excavated from 1913 by the French, then 1959 to 1962 and since 1998. Many items found in Thamusida are today on display at the Rabat Archaeological Museum. It occupies an area of 6.1 hectares (15 acres). Excavations have unearthed the walls of the docks and baths.
- Callu, J.P.; et al. (1966), "Thamusida", Mélanges d'Archéologie et d'Histoire, Vol. 43, No. 1–2, Rome: École Française de Rome.
- Camporeale, Stefano (2011), "Military Building Techniques in Mauretania Tingitana: The Use of Mortar and Rubble at Thamusida", Comm. Hum. Litt., Vol. 128, Siena: University of Siena Press.
- Gliozzo, Elisabetta; et al., eds. (2009), Sidi Alli ben Ahmed: Thamusida 2. l'Archéométrie. L'Archeometria, Roma: Quasar.
- Head, Barclay; et al. (1911), "Mauretania", Historia Numorum (2nd ed.), Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 887–890.