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Africae romanae Urbes.jpg
Map showing the location of Rapidum, south of Iconium (actual Algiers)
Rapidum is located in Algeria
Shown within Algeria
Location Algeria
Region Médéa Province
Coordinates Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.

Rapidum was a Roman settlement and fort, located in Mauretania Caesariensis, nearly 100 km south of Icosium (actual Algiers).[1]


Romans built a fort in what is now Sour Djouab (south of actual Algiers) -during the first century of their conquest of Mauretania- between Castellum Tingitanum (actual El Asnam) and Auzia [2] (actual Sour el Ghozlane), in order to expand their control of the interior of actual Algeria.[3] Soon under Hadrian near the fort grew up a civilian settlement called "Rapidum", on the Roman via called Nova Praetentura, that connected Numidia with Mauretania Tingitana and that passed through Rapidum.

Indeed the original castrum of Rapidum remained until 201 AD, while the town survived until emperor Aurelianus when was destroyed by Berber nomads: later emperor Diocletianus rebuilt with huge buildings the "vicus", that lasted until the Arab invasions.

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There are two distinct parts to Rapidum: the camp and the town. The camp is rectangular with rounded corners. It dates to 122 AD(CIL VIII, 20833). The enceinte is made of two ashlar walls enclosing interior rubble fill. It is reinforced by towers standing on either side of the four gates, one on each side of the camp. The praetorium is located at the intersection of the decumanus and the cardo. It measures 28 x 24.5 m and, in accordance with the classic plan, has three parts...Five rooms open on this hall, all scholae, except for the middle one, which ended in an apse and must have been a chapel for the standards. Some meters S of the praetorium, a huge building may have served as a stable. Close by and to the S stands another large building, presumably the commander's residence (27 x 19.5 m); small private baths and seven rooms are arranged around a court. The rest of the camp was occupied by barracks and standard baths. Of note is a curious relief depicting the salutatio, encased in the W gate.The town, contiguous to the camp on the S side (but not on the W), is itself surrounded by ramparts, built in 167 AD Princeton E.

The initial garrison of Rapidum fort was - according to historian M. Ruiu- the Cohors II Sardorum and protected the new limes of the Roman empire moved south from the Mediterranean shores to a military road called Nova Praetentura . This road went from Rapidum near Numidia to Altava and to Numerus Syrorum at the border of Mauretania Tingitana.[4]

Rapidum was named "municipium" [5] and had an extension of 15 has. under Marcus Aurelius (with nearly 4,000 inhabitants, mostly romanised Berbers, like Auzia).

The city was later destroyed by Berber rebellions, but Diocletian restored the city that had even huge Roman Thermae. Pieces of colossal statues of Jupiter and Minerva suggest the existence of a "Capitol". There also undoubtedly was a temple to Ceres.

The fort was abandoned around 325 AD, while the city remained some centuries more (even if never fully recovered).

Rapidum was conquered by the Vandals and later - reduced to a small village, probably Christian (at Aïn Tamda, just W of Rapidum ruins, a group of Christian buildings (church and monastery) has been excavated)- was occupied by the Romano-Berber kingdom of Altava in the 6th century. It disappeared with the Arab conquest of North Africa in the 7th century. Actually remains only some ruins, excavated in the 1920s by the French colonists.[6]


Mauretania & Numidia.

Rapidum was center of an ancient Bishopric and remains a Titular See of the Roman Catholic Church[7] in the province of Mauritania Cesariense.



  1. Image of Rapidum
  2. Auzia history (in French)
  3. William Seston: Rapidum
  4. Rapidum and the Roman "Cohors II Sardorum
  5. Municipium Rapidense
  6. Photo of Rapidum ruins
  7. David M. Cheney, Rapidum at Catholic heirachy.org. (1996-2015)
  8. Le Petit Episcopologe, Issue 167, Number 14,171


  • Seston, Williams. Le secteur de Rapidum sur le Limes de Mauritanie césarienne après les fouilles de 1927 Persee Scientific Journals, volume 45. 1928

See also

External Links