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Thagaste on the map of Numidia, just south of Huppo Regius, "Atlas Antiquus", H. Kiepert, 1869
The olive tree that is believed to have been planted by Saint Augustine

Thagaste (or "Tagaste") was a Roman colony in Berber north Africa. It is now called Souk Ahras. It is famous worldwide because it was the birthplace of Saint Augustine.[1]


Before Roman conquest Thagaste was just a small Numidian village, inhabited by a Berber tribe from which Saint Augustine came. This saint was a Berber who was born in 354 A.D in this city. His mother Saint Monica was a christian and his father Patricius (with Roman roots) was at first a Pagan who later converted to Christianity.

The Numidian city of Thagaste was situated in the northeastern highlands of Numidia. It was about 60 miles (97 km) from Hippo Regius, (present day Annaba), 20 miles (32 km) southwest of Thubursicum (present day Khamissa), and about 150 miles (240 km) from Carthage (on the coast of present day Tunisia).[2]

Thagaste was situated in a region full of dense forest.This region in ancient times was famous for its mounts that were used as a natural citadel against different invaders: the Romans, the Byzantines, the Vandals and the Arabs.

During the Roman period trading increased in the city, that flourished mainly under Septimius Severus rule.Thagaste became a Roman municipium in the first century of Roman domination.[3] The city was mentioned by Pliny the Elder. As a municipium, Thagaste was settled by a few Roman Italian immigrants, but was mainly inhabited by romanized native Berbers.[4]

Indeed Roman historian Plinius (V,4,4) wrote about Tagaste, that was an important Christian center in Roman Africa, with a basilica and a Dioceses that was the most important of byzantine Numidia. There are 3 bishops of Thagaste historically known: Saint Firminus, Saint Alipius (friend of Saint Augustine) and Saint Gennarus.

There it is the tradition that Saint Augustine used to meditate under an olive tree in a hill of Thagaste: this tree is still existing and is the place of reunion even now for the followers of the "Augustine doctrine".

The byzantines fortified with walls the city, that fell to the Arabs at the end of the seventh century. After centuries of neglect, the French colonists rebuilt the city that is now called Souk Ahras.


  1. ^ Tagaste (in Italian)
  2. ^ Maps and photos of Tagaste/Souk Ahras
  3. ^ A municipium was an existing city on which the citizenship had been conferred, while a colony was a new foundation or a community to which Roman settlers had been added
  4. ^ Nacéra Benseddik, Thagaste. Souk Ahras, ville natale de saint Augustin, p.25


  • Benseddik, Nacéra. Thagaste.Souk Ahras, ville natale de saint Augustin Ed. Inas. Alger, 2005.
  • Laffi, Umberto. Colonie e municipi nello Stato romano Ed. di Storia e Letteratura. Roma, 2007 ISBN 8884983509
  • Mommsen, Theodore. The Provinces of the Roman Empire Section: Roman Africa. (Leipzig 1865; London 1866; London: Macmillan 1909; reprint New York 1996) Barnes & Noble. New York, 1996
  • Smyth Vereker, Charles. Scenes in the Sunny South: Including the Atlas Mountains and the Oases of the Sahara in Algeria. Volume 2. Publisher Longmans, Green, and Company. University of Wisconsin. Madison,1871 ( Roman Thagaste )

See also[edit]