Numidia is another of Africa’s most ancient civilizations. It was situated in north-west Africa and was part of Carthage until about 201 BCE (Before our Common Era), when it became an independent power. It was an independent empire until 46 BCE, and was only conquered in the 700’s of our Common Era by Arab invaders.
Map of Numidia
Numidia was situated in the area that Algeria occupies today, broadly speaking. It was bordered by Mauretania (Algeria and Morocco), Tunisia, the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea. The people that constituted this society were known as Numidians and originated from the Berber civilisations of ancient Africa. They comprised two main tribes; the Massylii in the east and the Masaesyli in the west. The western tribes were originally allied with Rome, but this changed in 206 BCE when the west decided to ally itself with Rome under Masinissa’s rule and the east (subject to King Syphax) switched and backed Carthage.
It was when Masinissa began to ally himself with the Roman powers during their wars against Carthage that Numidia became an independent civilisation. Once Carthage was conquered, the Romans gave the whole Numidian region to Masinissa, a move that proved most successful for this ancient area, which did exceptionally well in terms of political standing and cultural development. However, Masinissa became too ambitious and sought to take Carthage from Roman rule as well. In fact, it was the heir of Masinissa’s successor that instigated a full-on war with Rome. It was when Julius Caesar became victorious in the Roman Civil War that Numidia finally lost its independence. It was incorporated into Rome under the rule of a prince (Juba II) and had two major city centres (Cirta and Hippo Regius).
At this time, Numidia was influenced by Rome to an enormous degree. Its 20 towns all received the title of being Roman colonies at various times in history. Today, the area of Numidia incorporates several African countries and regions. Indeed, the ancient African civilisation of Numidia has been lost.