Chapter

Carthage and Numidia

W. H. C. Frend

in The Donatist Church

Published in print November 1985 | ISBN: 9780198264088
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191682704 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198264088.003.0003
Carthage and Numidia

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From the outset, there were two entirely different types of country in Roman North Africa. On the one hand, there was Carthage, the coast and the river valleys. These were fertile, well watered, able to sustain a large urban population supported by mixed farming-wheat, vines, and stock-raising. There were the elements of a prosperous civilization accessible to influence from the other side of the Mediterranean. On the other hand, the High Plains, which included southern Numidia, Mauretania Sitifensis, and part of Byzacenia, could never support urban communities except immediately north of the Aures mountains. Lack of rainfall and sweet water imposed a lower standard of life on their inhabitants. Careful irrigation and the security of the Roman limes enabled settled farming communities to develop, with barley and olive cultivation as the basis of their livelihood. These divergent views of North Africa are a reflection of its geography.

Keywords: Donatism; Roman Africa; Roman civilization; irrigation; geography

Chapter.  3200 words. 

Subjects: History of Christianity

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