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Location of Tingis in Roman Mauretania Tingitana

Tingis (current Tangier in Morocco) was an important Roman Colonia in Berber north-western Africa. Tingis gave the name to Mauretania Tingitana, a province of the Roman Empire of which Tingis was the capital.


The commercial Phoenician city of Thingis (Τιγγίς in Ancient Greek), came under Roman rule in the course of the 2nd century BC (146 BC). Later Tingis grew in importance first as a free city under Augustus, and then as a colony under Claudius who made Tingis capital of Mauritania "Tingitana" of Hispania.[1]

Since then Tingis grew in importance and in the fourth century Tingis was the main Roman city of Mauretania Tingitana, bypassing Volubilis after that city remained south of the Roman limes and no more protected by the roman legions. The city in those years enjoyed huge development and importance, reaching 20,000 inhabitants (all fully romanized and mostly Christians).

Tingis was famous in the Roman empire because of the fishing conserve industry. Under Septimius Severus were built two roman roads from Tingis: one on the Atlantic coast until Sala Colonia and the second in the mountainous interior toward Volubilis.

The Christian history of Tingis started during the second half of the first century, under emperor Claudius rule.[2] Originally, the city was part of the larger province of Mauretania Caesariensis, which included much of Northern Roman Africa. Later the area was subdivided, with the eastern part keeping the former name and the newer part receiving the name of Mauretania Tingitana. It is not known exactly at what period there may have been an episcopal see at Tangier in ancient times, but in the late Middle Ages Tangier was used as a titular see (i.e., an honorific fiction for the appointment of curial and auxiliary bishops), placing it in Mauretania Tingitana. For the historical reasons given above, one official list of the Roman Curia places the see in Mauretania Caesarea.

Towards the end of the third century, Tangier was the scene of the martyrdom of Saint Marcellus of Tingis, mentioned in the Roman Martyrology on 30 October, and of St. Cassian of Tingis, mentioned on 3 December. Indeed according to tradition, the martyrdom of St Marcellus took place on 28 July 298 at Tingis (Tangier). During the Emperor Diocletian's reform of Roman governmental structures in 296 AD, Mauretania Tingitana became part of the Diocese of Hispaniae, with capital Tingis. Since then and for all the fourth century, Tingis enjoyed a huge commercial development.

In the fifth century AD, Vandals conquered and occupied Tingis around 425 AD and from there swept across Roman North Africa.

A century later (between 534 and 682 AD), Tingis fell back to the Eastern Roman empire, before coming under Arab (Umayyad) control in 702 AD. Under Byzantine rule, Tingis was fortified and inside these walls was built a Christian church, but the economy shrank as stated by reduced local emission of coins found. Due to its Christian past, it is still a titular see of the Roman Catholic Church.

In 706 AD Moussa Ibn Noussair started organizing the invasion of Spain from Tingis and nearby Septem. Since then Tingis, reduced to a small city, remained -with the new name of Tangier- under Moslem Arab control for centuries, even if a small Christian community survived until the tenth century.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tingis romana
  2. ^ Cass. Dio XLVIII 45.3


  • Rachid, Mueden. Las colonias y municipios de la Mauretania Tingitana (Tingis, Zilis, Lixus, Banasa, Thamusida, Sala, Volubilis) University of Sevilla. Sevilla, 2010