, i. e. simply the City
, in Phoenician, nician, a name which it obtained from being built by Punic architects: Eth. Κιρτήσιοι
, Eth. Cirtenses
, Ru.), an inland city of the Massylii in Numidia, 48 M. P. from the sea, in a situation of remarkable beauty and fertility.
It was built on a steep rock almost surrounded by a tributary of the river Ampsaga, now called the Rummel.
It was the residence of the kings of the Massylii, whose palace appears, to have been a splendid edifice. Micipsa especially enlarged and beautified it, and settled Greek colonists in it. Under him it could send forth an army of 10,000 cavalry and 20,000 infantry.
It is frequently mentioned in the Punic, Jugurthine, and Civil Wars, as the strongest fortress in the country, a reputation which it has maintained in our own day, during the French conquest of Algeria.
Under the Romans it was a colony with the surname Julia;
and it was sometimes called Colonia Sittianorum,
from the partisan chief Sittius, to whom it was granted by Julius Caesar. [AFRICA
] It was the central point for all the Roman roads throughout Numidia.
Having fallen into decay in process of time, Cirta was restored by Constantine, and called CONSTANTINA
the name which it still retains. Among the ruins of the ancient city, the finest remnant is a triumphal arch, which has been removed to Paris. (Strab. xvii. pp. 828, 832; Plb. 37.3
; Appian. Pun.
27, 106, Numid.
Fr. iii., B.C.
2.96, 4.53, 55; D. C. 43.3
; Liv. 30.12
; Sallust. Jug.
2, 21, &c.; Mela, 1.6.1; Plin. Nat. 5.3. s. 2
; Itin. Ant.
pp. 24, 28, 34, 35, 40, 41, 42; Tab. Peut.; Ptol. 4.3.28
; Shaw, Travels,
p. 60, 2nd ed.; Ausland,
1837, No. 224.)