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AD MAIORES (Henchir Besseriani) Algeria.

ca. 5 km S of Négrine, an oasis 140 km S of Tébessa, was a large military camp. Its site is indicated on the Peutinger Table, and the minutes of the Conference of Carthage in A.D. 411 indicate a bishop “plebis Nigrensium Maiorum.”

The camp was founded by Trajan in A.D. 105 on the route that runs along, and defines, the S of the mountains of Nememchas and Aurè, in a region which today is desert. It was a rectangular fortress 170 x 110 m, with four gates and a square tower at each corner. A fairly extensive enceinte surrounded the camp, flanked by numerous towers; it is still partly visible to the S. Vestiges of arches were left after its destruction by an earthquake in 267. The town, of which there are only minimal traces to be seen on aerial photographs, extended to the N where the mountain is still called Djebel Majour, a corruption of its antique name. Here springs were harnessed and channeled toward the town. Necropoleis to N and W have not been excavated. The unpublished epitaph of a soldier's wife shows that the camp was occupied by the cavalry of a corps still unidentified, a wing or numerus.

A section of the Roman limes has been recognized N of the route from Négrine to Nefta. The camp was an important station at the crossing of the routes coming on the one hand from Thelepte, Thevestis and Capsa, and on the other from Gemellae; it is probable that many of the remains designated as bazinas, Berber tombs, are really buried towers of the limes.

One km N of the oasis, near the palm orchard of Négrine el Kdima, in the middle of prehistoric stonefields, lie the ruins of a villa with apsidal chamber, hexagonal pool, and mosaic-floored rooms, their decorations destroyed after the last phase of the Algerian war; on the one hand, amid vegetal motifs in geometric arrangement, is a checkerboard of 90 squares formed by the letters of the name Flaviorum, probably a game; on the other, framed by a decorative border of shells and canthari, a gnomic text with some pretensions to meter. In the Algiers Museum is an ostrakon of the Byzantine period, with writing in ink on a pottery fragment.


Gueneau, BAC (1907) 322-26M; S. Gsell, Atlas archéologique de l'Algérie (1911) 50, nos. 152 & 128; Baradez, Fossatum Africae (1949) 109-10, 118P; Baghli & Février, Bulletin des Antiquités algériennes 2 (1966-67) 6-8P.


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