West of Constantine the Rhummel flows in a
rather wide depression between the chain of the Chettaba
to the N (where various castella belonging to the colony
of Cirta were located: Castellum Elephantum, Castellum
Mastarense, Castellum Phuensium) and a rough area to
the S (where the river must cut a narrow bed in order
to reach the sea). The ruins of the center of Tiddis are
located just where the Rhummel pierces the mountain of
the Kheneg, about 15 km from Constantine as the crow
flies. It is the Castellum Tidditanorum known from an
inscription of the time of Alexander Severus.
The site has been partially excavated. Set upon the S
slopes of the mountain on an upper plateau, it was a
relatively strong site, easy to defend. It had at its command a fertile plain to the N and a zone of hills, whose
rich soil today produces wheat.
Excavating the site was difficult. The best cleared part
of the ancient town is attached to the slopes of the
Kheneg. Since the slopes are steep, the streets had to
wind their way up to the summit. In the steepest places
these sloping ramps were replaced by stairs. Everywhere
too, one had to cut back into the rock and build out
with terraces in order to construct houses, and cellars
were cut out of the rock. As no springs were available,
cisterns, public and private, were installed throughout
the built-up area in order to collect rainwater. In all
of these details, Tiddis is somewhat different from other
ancient sites excavated in Algeria. In seeking comparable constructions in order to visualize the town's original
appearance, one turns to the Berber villages of Kabylia,
with their irregular streets and houses set in tiers along
The necropolis located outside the village is of interest
in revealing the origins of Tiddis. The oldest tombs are
circular bazinas, in the middle of which one or two coffers were placed and set off by slabs. The handmade
pottery found in these tombs was sometimes decorated
with painted motifs. This pottery and these methods of
burial suggest that Tiddis was at first a native center
which, because of the proximity of Cirta, very early
entered into contact with wider currents of commerce.
Rhodian amphoras of the 2d c., Campanian ware, inscriptions with Punic lettering of the 1st c. B.C., and
finally Italic Arretine ware, all testify to the life of the
center before Rome's conquest of the region and just
after the foundation of the kingdom of Sittius.
The native town became Romanized just like the other
towns near Cirta. Today one can cross it by following
the main street as it goes from a monumental portal up
between the houses, passing by the forum, a small square,
and the curia. From inscriptions one knows the magistrates and decurions of the castellum. It belonged to
the colony of Cirta and, with the other colonies of
Rusicade, Milev, and Chullu, formed part of the confederation of the IV colonies.
Also among the public monuments cleared thus far
are the public baths and cisterns (built by M. Cocceius
Anicius Faustus in the middle of the 3d c. A.D.) and on
top of the crag a Temple of Saturn (which produced
a great number of stelae now in the Constantine Museum). On the slopes of the cliff one can see many
houses and the remains of the original rampart of the
The Lollii were one of the important families of the
town. Their circular mausoleum can still be seen some
kilometers to the N. The monument was erected by
Lollius Urbicus, prefect of the city of Rome under Antoninus Pius.
At the end of the 5th c. the town is known to have
been the seat of a bishopric. Two Christian basilicas
have been cleared. One was located at the entrance of
the town; the other was in a more distant district and
has been only partially cleared. Excavations have led
to the discovery of a very large quantity of mediaeval
pottery, in particular a ware which is also found at the
Kalaa des Beni Hammad in the 10th and 11th c.
In the Constantine Museum one finds what pottery
from Tiddis has been kept (in particular the wares from
the necropolis), many artifacts from daily life (in particular pottery from potters' kilns and workshops), and
tools used by the potters, as well as inscriptions and
stelae dedicated to Saturn.
A. Berthier, Tiddis, antique castellum
(1951) and reedited with bibl.; J. Lassus
4 (1956) 176-80; 6 (1958) 251-64; 7 (1959)
294-301; H. G. Pflaum, Inscriptions latines d'Algérie
1 (1957) nos. 3563-4175; P. A. Lally, in Recueil des
notices et mémoires de la société archéologique de la willaya de Constantine
71 (1969-1971) 91-121; P-A.
Février, in Bulletin d'archéologie algérienne
4 (1970) 41-100.