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SALDAE (Bejaia or Bougie) Algeria.

The Punic settlement in Mauretania Caesariensis was later a Roman colony. It is mentioned by Pliny (HN 5.20), Ptolemy (4.2.2), the Antonine Itinerary, the Peutinger Table, and the Ravenna Geographer. The port of Saldae was fairly important (Strab. 17.3,12). The Roman colony was founded by Augustus in 27-26 B.C. for veterans. A bishop from Saldae is known in the 5th c. The Byzantines presumably established themselves there. Very little has survived from the Punic period, only some votive stelae of Carthaginian type and perhaps some tombs, presumed to be Punic.

The Roman period has left more abundant remains. Vestiges of the ramparts are visible at several places. The ancient town is placed on the slopes of the Gouraya mountain. It occupies the two spurs of Moussa (to the W) and of Bridja (to the E), which are separated by a gully. Of the monuments which have been preserved or noted, particularly interesting are the remains of a temple underneath the church, built on the site of a mosque. The temple was undoubtedly near the forum, whose location is indicated by the bases of statues. In the immediate vicinity the public baths have produced a large ornamental mosaic (a piece of it is on exhibit in the church). Other public baths were on the site of the Civil Hospital. Two similar mosaics were found there; they depict heads of Oceanus flanked by Nereids. One is at the Algiers Museum, the other at the town hall of Bejaia. A third public bath was located near the high school.

Cisterns and basins are still visible (indeed, still in use) at several places in the upper town. They were fed by the Toudja aqueduct, which brought water from springs located 21 km to the W. Large fragments of the aqueduct can be seen at some points, especially at El Hanaïat, where some 20 piles reach heights up to 15 m. The canalization made use of a tunnel 428 m long. An inscription, found at Lambaesis (CIL, VIII, 18122) and now in the main square at Bejaia, tells of the vicissitudes of its construction in the middle of the 2d c. The tunnel was begun at both ends, and instead of meeting the two galleries diverged; a military engineer had to rectify the situation.

West of the middle town a rounded depression has been supposed variously to have been the site of a circus, an amphitheater, and a theater. No ancient remains are known that settle the question. A single inscription (CIL, VIII, 8938) mentions ludi circenses.

Many Roman sculptures have been found in the area around the town, some carved in the rock, some found in the ground, others as sarcophagi. A sarcophagus with strigils is at the Louvre. Few sculptures come from Saldae itself, mainly some capitals and votive stelae dedicated to Saturn. They are kept in the small local museum.


S. Gsell, Les monuments antiques de l'Algérie (1901) 249-52PI; Atlas archéologique de l'Algérie (1911) 7, no. 12P; J. Lassus, “L'archéologie algérienne en 1958,” Libyca 7 (1959) 275-78; M. Leglay, Saturne Africain. Monuments (1966) II 297-98.


hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Strabo, Geography, 17.3
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 5.20
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