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MAURETA´NIA the NW. coast of Africa, now known as the Empire of Marocco, Fez, and part of Algeria, or the Mogh'rib-al-akza (furthest west) of the natives.

I. Name, Limits, and Inhabitants.

This district, which was separated on the E. from Numidia, by the river Ampsaga, and on the S. from Gaetulia, by the snowy range of the Atlas, was washed upon the N. coast by the Mediterranean, and on the W. by the Atlantic. From the earliest times it was occupied by a people whom the ancients distinguished by the name MAURUSII (Eth. Μαυρούσιος, Strab. i. p.5, iii. pp. 131, 137, xvii. pp. 825, 827; Liv. 24.49; Verg. A. 4.206; Μαυρήνσιοι, Ptol. 4.1.11) or MAURI (Μαυροί, “Blacks,” in the Alexandrian dialect, Paus. i, 33 § 5, 8.43. [p. 2.297] § 3; Sal. Jug. 19; Pomp. Mela, 1.4.3; Liv. 21.22, 28.17; Hor. Carm. 1.22. 2, 2.6. 3, 3.10. 18; Tac. Ann. 2.52, 4.523, 14.28, Hist. 1.78, 2.58, 4.50; Lucan 4.678; Juv. 5.53, 6.337; Flor. 3.1, 4.2); hence the name MAURETANIA (the proper form as it appears in inscriptions, Orelli, Inscr. 485, 3570, 3672; and on coins, Eckhel, vol. vi. p. 48; comp. Tzchucke, ad Pomp. Mela, 1.5.1) or MAURITANIA (Μαυριτανία, Ptol. 4.1.2; Caes. B.C. 1.6, 39; Hirt. B. Afr. 22; Pomp. Mela, 1.5; Plin. Nat. 5.1; Eutrop. 4.27, 8.5; Flor. iv. (the MSS. and printed editions vary between this form and that of Mauretania); Μαυρούσιων γῆ, Strab. p. 827). These Moors, who must not be considered as a different race from the Numidians, but as a tribe belonging to the same stock, were represented by Sallust (Sal. Jug. 21) as a remnant of the army of Hercules, and by Procopius (B. V. 2.10) as the posterity of the Cananaeans who fled from the robber (ληστής) Joshua; he quotes two columns with a Phoenician inscription. Procopius has been supposed to be the only, or at least the most ancient, author who mentions this inscription, and the invention of it has been attributed to himself; it occurs, however, in the history of Moses of Chorene (1.18), who wrote more than a century before Procopius. The same inscription is mentioned by Suidas (s. v. Χανάαν), who probably quotes from Procopius. According to most of the Arabian writers, who adopted a nearly similar tradition, the indigenous inhabitants of N. Africa were the people of Palestine, expelled by David, who passed into Africa under the guidance of Goliah, whom they call Djalout. (St. Martin, Le Beau, Bas Empire, vol. xi. p. 328; comp. Gibbon, c. xli.) These traditions, though so palpably fabulous, open a field to conjecture. Without entering into this, it seems certain that the Berbers or Berēbers, from whom it has been conjectured that N. Africa received the name of Barbary or Barbaria, and whose language has been preserved in remote mountainous tracts, as well as in the distant regions of the desert, are the representatives of the ancient inhabitants of Mauretania. (Comp. Prichard, Physical Hist. of Mankind, vol. ii. pp. 15--43.) The gentile name of the Berbers--Amazigh, “the noble language” --is found, according to an observation of Castiglione, even in Herodotus (4.191, ed. Bähr),--where the correct form is MAZYES (Μαζύες, Hecataeus, ap. Steph. B. sub voce s. u.), which occurs in the MSS., while the printed editions erroneously give Μαξύες (Niebuhr, Lect. on Anc. Ethnog. and Geog. vol. ii. p. 334),--as well as in the later MAZICES of Ammianus Marcellinus (29.5; Le Beau, Bas Empire, vol. iii. p. 471; comp. Gibbon, c. xxv.).

II. Physical Geography.

From the extraordinary capabilities of the soil--one vast corn plain extending from the foot of Atlas to the shores of the Atlantic--Mauretania was formerly the granary of the world. (Plin. Nat. 18.20.) Under a bigoted and fanatical government, the land that might give food to millions, is now covered with weeds. Throughout the plains, which rise by three great steps to the mountains, there is great want of wood; even on the skirts of the Atlas, the timber does not reach any great size-nothing to justify the expression of Pliny ( “opacum nemorosumque” 5.1; comp. Journ. Geog. Soc. vol. i. pp. 123--155; Barth, Wanderungen).

Strabo (xvii. pp. 826--832) has given an account of the productions of Mauretania, marvellous enough, in some particulars, as where he describes weasels as large as cats, and leeches 10 ft. long; and among other animals the crocodile, which there can scarcely be any river of Marocco capable of nourishing, even if the climate were to permit it. (In Aegypt, where the average heat is equal to that of Senegambia, the crocodile is seldom seen so low as Siout.) Pliny (8.1) agrees with Strabo (p. 827) in asserting that Mauretania produced elephants. As the whole of Barbary is more European than African, it may be doubted whether the elephant, which is no longer found there, was ever indigenous, though it may have been naturalised by the Carthaginians, to whom elephants were of importance, as part of their military establishment. Appian (B. P. 9) says that when preparing for their last war with the Romans, they sent Hasdrubal, son of Gisco, to hunt elephants; he could have hardly gone into Aethiopia for this purpose. Shaw (Trav. p. 258; Jackson, Marocco, p. 55) confirms, in great measure, the statements of Strabo (p. 830) and of Aelian (Ael. NA 3.136, 6.20) about the scorpion and the “phalangium,” a species of the “arachnidae.” The “solitanus,” of which Varro (de Re Rustica, 4.14.4; Plin. Nat. 9.82) gives so wonderful an account, has not been identified. Copper is still worked as in the days of Strabo (p. 830), and the natives continue to preserve the grain, legumes, and other produce of their husbandry in “matmoures,” or conical excavations in the ground, as recorded by Pliny (18.73; Shaw, p. 221).

Mauretania, which may be described generally as the highlands of N.Africa, elevates itself like an island between the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, and the great ocean of sand which cuts it off towards the S. and E. This “plateau” separates itself from the rest of Africa, and approximates, in the form and structure, the height, and arrangement of its elevated masses, to the system of mountains in the Spanish peninsula, of which, if the straits of the Mediterranean were dried up, it would form a part. A description of these Atlantic highlands is given in the article ATLAS

Many rivers flow from this great range, and fall into the Mediterranean, and the Atlantic. Of these, the most important on the N. coast were, in a direction from E. to W., the AMPSAGA, USAR, CHINALAPH, and MULUCHA; on the W. coast, in a direction from NE. to SW., the SUBUR, SALA, PHUTH, and LIXUS.

The coast-line, after passing the AMPSAGA (Wadel-Kíbir) and SINUS NUMIDICUS, has the harbours IGILGILIS (Jijeli), SALDAE Ps. (Bujeiyah), and RUSUCURRIUM (Tedlez). Weighing from Algiers, and passing IOMNIUM (Ras-al-Kanatir), to stand towards the W., there is a rocky and precipitous coast, mostly bold, in which in succession were the ports and creeks IOL (Zershell), CARTENNA (Tenez), MURUSTAGA (Mostaghanom), ARSENARIA (Arzán), QUIZA (Wahran or Oran); PORTUS MAGNUS (Marsa Kíbir), within METAGONIUM PROM. (Ras-al-Harsbah); and ACRA (Ishgún). The MULUCHA falls into the Gulf of Melîlah of the charts. About 10 miles to the NW. of this river lay the TRES INSULAE (Zaphran or Ja'ferëi group); about 30 miles distant from these rocks, on a NW. by W. rhumb, was RUSADIR PROM. (Cap Tres Forcas of the Spanish pilots, or Ras-ud-Dehar of the natives), and in the bight formed between it and the Mulucha stood RUSADIR [p. 2.298]Melîlah.) W. of Cap Tres Forcas, which is a termination of an offshoot of the secondary chain of the Atlas, was the district of the METAGONITAE extending to ABYLA (Jebel-el-Mina). From here to TINGIS (Tangier) the coast is broken by alternate cliffs and coves; and, still standing to the W., a bold shore presents itself as far as the fine headland of AMPELUSIA (Cape Spartel; Ras-el-Shukkúr of the natives). From Cape Spartel to the SSW. as far as ZILIS (Arzila), the coast-line is a flat, sandy, and shingly beach, after which it becomes more bold as it reaches LIXUS (Al-Harátch or Laráiche). (Smyth, The Mediterranean, pp. 94--99.) A description of the SW. coast is given in the article LIBYA (Comp. C. Müller, Tab. ad Geog. Graec. Minors, ed. Didot, Paris, 1855; West Coast of Africa surveyed, by Arlett, Vidal, and Boteler, 1832; Côte occidentale de l'Afrique au Dépot de la Marine, Paris, 1852; Carte de l'Empire de Maroc, par E. Renou, 1844; Barth, Karte vom Nord Afrikanischen Gestadeland, Berlin, 1849.)

III. History and Political Geography.

The Romans first became acquainted with this country when the war with Hannibal was transferred to Africa; Mauretania was the unknown land to the W. of the Mulucha. In the Jugurthine War, Bocchus, who is called king of Mauretania, played the traitor's part so skilfully that he was enabled to hand over his kingdom to his two sons Bogudes and Bocchus, who were associated upon the throne. These princes, from their hostility to the Pompeian party, were confirmed as joint kings of Mauretania by J. Caesar in B.C. 49. During the civil war between M. Antonius and Octavius, Bocchus sided with the latter, while Bogudes was allied with Antonius. When Bogudes crossed into Spain, Bocchus seized upon his brother's dominions; a usurpation which was ratified by Octavius. In B.C. 25, Octavius gave to Juba II., who was married to the daughter of Cleopatra and Antonius, the two provinces of Mauretania (afterwards called Tingitana and Caesariensis) which had formed the kingdom of Bogudes and Bocchus, in exchange for Numidia, now made a Roman province. Juba was succeeded by his son Ptolemy, whom Selene, Cleopatra's daughter, bore to him. (Strab. xvii. pp. 828, 831, 840.) Tiberius loaded Ptolemy with favours on account of the assistance he gave the Romans in the war with Tacfarinas (Tac. Ann. 4.23-26); but in A.D. 41 he was put to death by Caligula. (D. C. 59.25; Suet. Cal. 26; Seneca, de Tranq. 11.) For coins of these native princes, see Eckhel, vol. iv. pp. 154--161.

In A.D. 42, Claudius divided the kingdom into two provinces, separated from each other by the river Mulucha, the ancient frontier between the territories of Bocchus and Jugurtha; that to the W. was called MAURETANIA TINGITANA, and that to the E. MAURETANIA CAESARIENSIS. (D. C. 60.9; Plin. Nat. 5.1.) Both were imperial provinces (Tac. Hist. 1.11, 2.58; Spart. Hadr. 6, “Mauretaniae praefectura” ), and were strengthened by numerous Roman “coloniae.” M. Tingitana contained in the time of Pliny (l.c.) five, three of which, ZILIS, BABBA, and BANASA as they were founded by Augustus when Mauretania was independent of Rome, were reckoned as belonging to Baetica. (Plin. l.c.; Pomp. Mela, 3.10.5.) TINGI and LIXUS were colonies of Claudius (Plin. l.c.); to which were added in later times RUSADIR and VOLUBILIS (Itin. Ant.). M. Caesariensis contained eight colonies founded by Augustus, CARTENNA, GUNUGI, IGILGILI, RUSCONIAE, RUSAZUS, SALDE, SUCCABAR, TUBUSUPTUS; two by Claudius, CAESAREIA formerly IOL the capital of Juba, who gave it this name in honour of his patron Augustus, and OPPIDUM NOVUM; one by Nerva, SITIFIS; and in later times, ARSENARIA, BIDA, SIGA, AQUAE CALIDAE, QUIZA, RUSUCURRIUM, AUZIA, GILVA, ICOSIUM, and TIPASA in all 21 well-known colonies, besides several “municipia” and “oppida Latina.” The Notitia enumerates no less than 170 episcopal towns in the two provinces. (Comp. Morcelli, Africa Christiana, vol. i. pp. 40--43.) About A.D. 400, Mauretania Tingitana was under a “Praeses,” in the diocese of Spain; while Mauretania Caesariensis, which still remained in the hands of the diocese of Africa, was divided into MAURETANIA I. or SITIFENSIS, and MAURETANIA II. or CAESARIENSIS. The emperor Otho had assigned the cities of Mauretania to Baetica (Tac. Hist. 1.78); but this probably applied only to single places, since we find the two Mauretaniae remained unchanged down to the time of Constantine. Marquardt, in Becker's Handbuch der Röm. Alt. pp. 230--232; Morcelli, Africana Christiana, vol. i. p. 25.)

In A.D. 429, the Vandal king Genseric, at the invitation of Count Boniface, crossed the straits of Gades, and Mauretania, with the other African provinces, fell into the hands of the barbarian conquerors. Belisarius, “the Africanus of New Rome,” destroyed the kingdom of the Vandals, and Mauretania again became a Roman province under an Eastern exarch. One of his ablest generals, John the Patrician, for a time repressed the inroads of the Moors upon Roman civilisation; and under his successor, the eunuch Solomon, the long-lost province of Mauretania Sitifensis was restored to the empire; while the Second Mauretania, with the exception of Caesareia itself, was in the hands of Mastigas and the Moors. (Comp. Gibbon, cc. xli. xliii.; Le Beau, Bas Empire, vol. viii.) At length, in A.D. 698--709, when the Arabs made the final conquest of Africa,--desolated for 300 years since the first fury of the Vandals,--the Moors or Berbers adopted the religion, the name, and the origin of their conquerors, and sunk back into their more congenial state of Mahometan savages.

Pliny (l.c.) makes out the breadth of the two Mauretaniae as 467 M. P.; but this will be too much even for Tingitania, where Mount Atlas lies more to the S., and more than 300 M. P. beyond the utmost extent of any part of Caesariensis. The same author gives 170 M. P., which are too few for Tingitania, and 879 M. P., which are too many for Caesariensis. (Shaw, Trav. p. 9.)

The following tribes are enumerated by Ptolemy (4.2. § § 17--22) in I. MAURETANIA CAESARIENSIS:--TODUCAE (Τοδοῦκαι), on the left bank of the Ampsaga; to the N. of these, COEDAMUSII (Κοιδαμούσιοι), and still more to the N., towards the coast, and to the E. on the Ampsaga, MUCUNI (Μουκοῦνοι) and CHITUAE (Χιτοῦαι); to the W. of the latter, TULENSII (Τουλήνσιοι and BANIURI (Βανίουροι); S. of these, MACHURES (Μαχοῦρες), SALASSII (Σαλάσσιοι), and MALCHUBII (Μαλχούβιοι); NW. of the TULENSII, and to the E. of ZALACUS M., and on the coast, MACCHUREBI (Μακχουρῆβοι); W. of these, and N. of Zalacus, on the mouth of the Chinalaph, MACHUSII (Μαχούσιοι); below them on the other [p. 2.299]side of Zalacus, MAZICES (Μάζικες); and S., up to the GARAPHI M., BANTURARII (Βαντουράριοι); still further to the S., between GARAPHI M. and CINNABA M., AQUENSII (Ἀκουήνσιοι), MYCENI (Μυκῆνοι), and MACCURAE (Μακκοῦραι); and below them, in the S., on the N. spurs of Cinnaba, ENABASI (Ἐνάβασοι); W. of these, between Garaphi M. and DURDUS M., NACMUSII (Νακμούσιοι), ELULII (Ἠλούλιοι), and TOLOTAE (Τολῶται); N. of these and Durdus M., DRYITAE (Δρϋῖται); then SORAE (Σῶραι); and on the W. of the Machusii, TALADUSII (Ταλαδούσιοι). The HERPEDITANI (Ἑρπεδιτανοί) extended into II. MAURETANIA TINGITANA (Ptol. 4.1. § § 10--12); to the S. of them, the MAURENSII (Μαυρήνσιοι); toward the SW., VACUATAE (Οὐακουᾶται), BANIUBAE (Βανιοῦβαι); then, advancing to the N., ZEGRENSII (Ζεγρήνσιοι), NECTIBERES (Νεκτίβηρες), JANGAUCANI (Ἰανγαυκανοί), VOLUBILIANI (Οὐαβιλιανοί), VERVES (Οὐερουεῖς), and SOCOSSII (Σωκοσσίοι), upon the coast; to the W., the METAGONITAE (Μεταγωνῖται); and to the S. of them, MASICES (Μάσικες), and VERBICAE or VERBICES (Οὐέρβικαι al. Οὐέρβικες); to the S. and to the W. of the VOLUBILIANI, SALINSAE (Σαλίνσαι) and CAUNI (Καῦνοι); still further to the S., to the Little Atlas, BACUATAE (Βακουᾶται) and MACANITAE (Μακανῖται). [E. B. J.)

hide References (25 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (25):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 4.191
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 4.206
    • Tacitus, Annales, 14.28
    • Tacitus, Annales, 4.23
    • Tacitus, Annales, 2.52
    • Tacitus, Annales, 4.26
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 1.11
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 1.78
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 2.58
    • Suetonius, Caligula, 26
    • Lucan, Civil War, 4.678
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 18.20
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 18.73
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 9.82
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 5.1
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 8.1
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 24, 49
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 28, 17
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 21, 22
    • Ammianus Marcellinus, Rerum Gestarum, 29.5
    • Sallust, Bellum Iugurthinum, 19
    • Sallust, Bellum Iugurthinum, 21
    • Aelian, De Natura Animalium, 6.20
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 4.1
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 4.2
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