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AMMAEDARA (Haidra) Tunisia.

One of the largest and most imposing sites of Tunisia is situated on the Algerian frontier at the crossing of the great route of penetration toward the interior from Carthage to Theveste, with the route connecting the basin of the High Medjerba to that of the Foussana. The station commanded access to the mountainous confines: the first camp of the third Augustan legion, it became a colony under the Flavians from the time of the transfer of this legion to Tebessa (then later on to Lambasa) and again took up its military role under the Byzantines, who constructed important fortresses there.

The remains reveal several centuries of occupation—Roman, Vandal, and Byzantine. Visited by travelers in the 18th and 19th c., the site was explored by Saladin, who described and sketched the principal monuments; and by Cagnat, who called attention to their visible inscriptions. Sadoux made a survey of certain edifices described by Gsell. Sporadic borings were carried out before the excavations in 1909 and between 1930 and 1940 when clearance was limited to several buildings only. What little excavation there has been has not been completely published. The monuments standing or unearthed are few in number for the extent of the site.

On the right bank of the wadi there is a small triumphal arch with engaged piers hollowed out of two square niches; and on the right bank, E of the town, stands a fine triumphal arch with engaged piers at the side of two projecting parts, each made up of two Corinthian columns supporting a complete entablature upon which is carried a long inscription dedicated to Septimius Severus. In the Byzantine period this arch was transformed into a small fort.

There were numerous cemeteries on the outskirts, especially at the gates and the starting points of the great roads of the city. The most important extends to the foot of the great triumphal arch. Excavated in 1909, it has revealed epitaphs of the legionnaires of the Flavian era.

Several important mausolea were found, one hexagonal with two floors, another garlanded, and the largest, tetrastyle, rose above a rectangular foundation.

Several meters from the road and from the building of the ancient customs station, stood a large tetrastyle temple, thought to be the capitol. The foundations and one lone column have survived. In front of it was the forum, a large paved enclosure known since the 19th c., excavated in 1934, and still unpublished.

Farther E, a square court bordered by small rooms, excavated at the same period, appeared to be a market. To the N, only partly uncovered, is a large bath. All these monuments are still unpublished. The building with troughs to the NE was once considered a church but the identification of it is still puzzling, as is that of the monument with the “windows.” The theater, partially excavated in 1926, resulted in the discovery of numerous statues and inscriptions indicating restorations.

Monuments of the Christian period include basilicas: The most remarkable is that of Melleus so-called, alongside the modern road, 100 m W of the ancient customs station. The church of “Candidus” outside the Roman town in the middle of the necropolis is 150 m SW of the arch of triumph. The Vandal Chapel, situated on the outskirts of the site, is one of the oldest monuments known at Haidra.

The monument par excellence of the Byzantine period is the citadel, constructed under Justinian. An important irregular quadrilateral with multiple towers, it extends all over the S slope of a small hill as far as the wadi.

A little farther to the S but on the other side of the encircling wall, there is another small church, also excavated but remaining unpublished.


Piganiol in MélRome (1912) 69-229; S. Gsell in RevTun (1932) 277-300; Y. and N. Duval in MélPiganiol 2 (1966) 1153-89; VII congrès darcheol. chret. Treves (1965) 473-78; CRAI (1968) 321; P.-M. Duval in CRAI (1969) 410PI; for the fortress, see C. Diehl, Afrique byzantine (1896).


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