Twenty-five km from Thagasta and 900 m above sea-level, the
town is built on undulating terrain. According to Apuleius, a native, Madauros was founded in the 3d c. B.C.
It belonged to King Syphax and subsequently formed
part of Massinissa's realm. A colony of veterans was established there; it was probably called Colonia Flavia
Augusta Veteranorum Madaurensium and already existed under Nerva. Dependent on the legate of the
Third Legion, Madauros was assigned to Carthage during the Late Empire. It became an important intellectual center with numerous schools—St. Augustine
studied there—but not a city of great size. The patrician
Solomon ordered the construction of a Byzantine fortress
In spite of the excavations from 1905 to 1923, it is
difficult to reestablish the plan of the site, much disturbed by Byzantine and Berber constructions. There
are numerous monuments: forum, theater, two baths,
mausolea, basilicas, four arches, some ten sanctuaries,
churches, the Byzantine fortress, and important oil-pressing establishments.
The forum is rectangular, almost square (32.4 x 27
and 28.5 m). It is surrounded by paved porticos and
built on a gentle slope, so earth fill had to be brought
and retaining walls built. The limestone flagging was
renewed in the 3d c. Nearby was a basilica with one
nave (19.9 x 7.8 m), of Late Empire date.
The theater was built in the immediate vicinity of the
forum against its W portico; thus, an arcade-lobby was
not required. Contrary to frequent practice in antiquity,
the convex part of the edifice is on the downhill side
of the natural slope of the terrain; the semicircle had to
be supported by a large wall and the tiers of seats placed
on a completely artificial core. Accordingly, in spite of
its small size (width: 33 m) it cost 375,000 sesterces.
The theater was built through the generosity of the
flamen M. Gabinius Sabinus, and probably dates from Severan times. It has a central entry at the same level as
the orchestra, an arrangement unique in North Africa
but found at Ostia. A portico borders the top of the
cavea. The stage is 20.25 x 4 m deep; on either side is
a parascenium of ashlar paved with flagstones.
Two public baths, very carefully constructed, are
found near one another to the N of the town. The walls
are of carefully cemented quarry stone; all rooms were
vaulted. The large baths measured 39 x 41 m and included a vestibule, hallway, semicircular latrines, frigidarium, caldarium, two bathing pools, and several other
rooms of various sizes. The small baths, 15 to 25 m to
the NW of the above, measured 30.2 x 33.8 m. These
are no doubt summer and winter baths respectively and
probably date to the beginning of the 3d c. A secular
basilica was discovered near the large baths.
A Christian basilica (34 x 7.8 to 8.1 m) is found
120 m to the SE of the large baths. Another basilica
was situated outside the Roman town. Both are no
earlier than the 5th c.
The Byzantine fortress is well preserved, standing in
places as high as 10 m. It was partly built on the forum
with materials from it.
S. Gsell, Atlas archéologique de l'Algérie
(1906) 18, Souk-Arrhas, no. 432MP
; and C. A.
Joly, Khamissa, Mdaourouch, Announa
Leschi, Algérie antique
; E. Frézouls, “Teatri romani dell'Africa francese,” Dioniso
15 (1952) 95-96.