(sc. regio provincia: Βυζάκιον
, Procop. B. 5.2.23, de Aed
. 6.6; ἡ Βυσακία
, Steph. B. sub voce ἡ Βυσσᾶτις
, Plb. 3.23
, ἡ Βυζακὶς χώρα
, Polyb. ap. Steph. B. sub voce ἡ Βυζακῖτις χώρα
, Ptol. 4.3.26
: Eth. Βύζαντες
, Eth. Βυζάκιοι
, Strab. ii. p.131
, Eth. Βυζακηνοι
, Eth. Byzacii
, Byzaceni), a district of N. Africa, lying to the S. of ZEUGITANA, and forming part of the Carthaginian territory, afterwards the S. part of the Roman province of Africa, and at last a distinct province.
In the exact position of the later Byzacium, Herodotus (4.194
) places a Libyan people called the Gyzantes (Γύζαντες,
others read Ζύγαντες
), who possessed the art of making artificial honey, in addition to the plentiful supply furnished by the bees of the country, and who painted themselves red, and ate apes, which were abundant in their mountains. (Comp. Eudoxus ap. Apol. Dysc. de Milrab.
p. 38.) They dwelt opposite to the island of Cyraunis, which, from the description of Herodotus, can be none other than Cercina (Karkenuah
). Thus their position corresponds exactly with that of Byzacium, a district still famous for its natural honey, and where, as in other parts of Tunis,
a sort of artificial honey is made from the date-palm: monkeys, too, are numerous in its mountainous parts.
As to the name, the later writers place the Byzantes or Byzacii in the same position, and Stephanus (s. v. Βύζαντες
) expressly charges Herodotus with an error in writing Γύζαντες
There is, therefore, little doubt that in the name of this Libyan people we have the origin of that of Byzacium.
The limits of Byzacium under the Carthaginians, and its relation to the rest of their territory, have been explained under AFRICA
(p. 68b.); and the same article traces the political changes, by which the name obtained a wider meaning, down to the constitution of the separate province of Byzacium, or the Provincia Byzacena, as an imperial province, governed by a consularis, with Hadrumetum for its capital.
This constitution is assigned to Diocletian, on the authority of inscriptions which mention the PROV. VAL. BYZACENA as early as A.D. 321 (Gruter, pp. 362, No. 1, 363, Nos. 1, 3; Orelli, Nos 1079, 3058, 3672).
This province contained the ancient district of Byzacium, on the E. coast, a part of the Emporia on the Lesser Syrtis, and W. of these the inland region which originally belonged to Numidia.
It was bounded on the E. by the Mediterranean and Lesser Syrtis; on the N. it was divided from Zeugitana by a line nearly coinciding with the parallel of 36° N. lat.; on the W. from Numidia by a S. branch of the Bagradas; on the SE. from Tripolitana, by the river Triton; while on the S. and SW. the deserts about the basin of the Palus Tritonis formed a natural boundary.
The limits are somewhat indefinite in a general description, but they can be determined with tolerable exactness by the lists of places in the early ecclesiastical records, which mention no less than 115 bishops' sees in the province in the fifth century. (Notit. Prove. Afr.,
Böcking, N. D.
vol. ii. pp. 615, foll.) Among its chief cities were, on the S. coast, beginning from the Lesser Syrtis, THENAE, ACHILLA, THAPSUS, LEPTIS MINOR, RUSPINA, and HADRUAETUM, the. capital: and, in the interior, ASSURAE, TUCCA TEREBINTHINA, SUFETULA, THYSDRUS, CAPSA, besides THELEPTE, and THEVESTE
which, according to the older division, belonged to NUMIDIA