Thamusida was a Berber, Carthaginian, and Roman river port that was near the present-day towns of Kénitra and Mehdia in Morocco. Under the Roman Empire, it formed a northern part of the province of Mauretania Tingitana.

Thamusida is located in Morocco
Shown within Morocco
LocationSidi Ayache, Kénitra Province, Rabat-Salé-Kénitra, Morocco
Coordinates34°20′08″N 06°29′22″W / 34.33556°N 6.48944°WCoordinates: 34°20′08″N 06°29′22″W / 34.33556°N 6.48944°W
Typeancient town


The Punic form of the name was TMDʿT (𐤕𐤌𐤃𐤏𐤕).[1] Because the original name intended a hard, breathy /tʰ/ sound instead of the usual English /θ/, the same name is also sometimes written Tamusida or Tamusia.[1] It is probably identical with the Thymiateria mentioned by Pseudo-Scylax.[1]


The city originally was a Berber settlement. It was used as a Carthaginian trading post and was about 48 kilometers (30 mi) from Shalat (the Roman Sala and modern Chellah).[1] It issued its own bronze coins.[1]

It was occupied by Romans in the first years of Augustus rule. There were a military camp and a nearby little city, until Claudius enlarged Thamusida.[2] According to historian Stefano Camporeale, the auxiliary unit that built the Roman camp in Thamusida was probably the Cohors secunda Syrorum civium Romanorum in the second half of the first century (ceramic evidence confirms this chronology): this camp (with annexed "vicus") was one of the largest camps of the whole province of Mauretania Tingitana and measured about 2 hectares (4.9 acres). Under the Antonines, a temple was built to worship Venus. Later the settlement grew progressively, and by the end of the second century or the early third century, it was surrounded by a wall that included a total area of about 15 hectares.[3]

During the reign of Claudius, strengthened structures multiply in Thamusida. It probably sheltered an active port to which testify the many remains of Amphoras, and became a point of unloading and a Roman supply centre. Under the Flavians, a Roman military garrison remained on the spot. The city gave signs of growth; a temple was raised (the Temple with embossing), as well as thermal baths and dwelling houses including one with a central court. Under Trajan or Hadrian, a new structuring of urban space seemed to take place by conferring to the city an orthogonal urbanism plan with thermal baths and a small temple dedicated to Venus-Astarte. The development and the enrichment of the city conveyed in the continuing enlarging and transformation of the river thermal baths, in the construction of new temples bordering the bank of Sebou river and in new dwellings such as the "House of Pavement" which adopted the plan of the rich residences of Volubilis and Spain. Modest houses, workshops and utility buildings occupied many districts. In addition to its commercial and industrial functions which are behind its development, the town of Thamusida was to play a significant military role. It was populated by veterans and under Marcus Aurelius was built the most imposing fortress of Tingitane so to ensure the protection of the civilian population. Under Commodus or Septimius Severus, an enclosure was built and which reemployed funerary steles and crushed a part of the pavement house, that indicated the fact that the work was dictated by the fear of a close or remote danger. In the 3rd century, the city was always active as showed the extent of the river thermal baths and the density of the ceramic founds is the spot until occurred the final abandonment which took place between 274 and 285, but it was not known if it was due to the departure of the Army or to a posterior cause. Scattered finds and some walls of Thamusida attested of a ephemeral occupation posterior to the date of evacuation.

— Mark Ellingham

In the third century, Thamusida become a mostly Christian city with a population of nearly 7,000 inhabitants. The site was abandoned around AD 285, when Diocletian moved the Roman limes of Mauretania Tingitana to the north, near Lixus. There were some inhabitants—according to recent archeological discoveries[4]—in Thamusida for another century after the Roman abandonment. But with the Vandal invasion, the city disappeared around AD 425.[5]

Modern archaeological site

The site was excavated from 1913 by the French, then 1959 to 1962[6] and since 1998. Many items found in Thamusida are today on display at the Rabat Archaeological Museum. It occupies an area of 6.1 hectares (15 acres). Excavations have unearthed the walls of the docks and baths.



  1. ^ a b c d e Head & al. (1911), p. 890.
  2. ^ French article on Thamusida
  3. ^ Camporeale (2011), pp. 169-171.
  4. ^ Camporeale (2011).
  5. ^ Thamusida (in French)
  6. ^ Fasti archaeologici, Volume 17,Sansoni Editore., 1962


  • Callu, J.P.; et al. (1966), "Thamusida", Mélanges d'Archéologie et d'Histoire, Vol. 43, No. 1–2, Rome: École Française de Rome.
  • Camporeale, Stefano (2011), "Military Building Techniques in Mauretania Tingitana: The Use of Mortar and Rubble at Thamusida", Comm. Hum. Litt., Vol. 128, Siena: University of Siena Press.
  • Gliozzo, Elisabetta; et al., eds. (2009), Sidi Alli ben Ahmed: Thamusida 2. l'Archéométrie. L'Archeometria, Roma: Quasar.
  • Head, Barclay; et al. (1911), "Mauretania", Historia Numorum (2nd ed.), Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 887–890.

See also

Andrew Wilson (classical archaeologist)

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The Berber Almohads used the site as a royal burial ground. The Marinids made the site a holy necropolis, or chellah, and built a complex that included mosque, minaret, and royal tombs. The tall minaret of the now-ruined mosque was built of stone and zellige tilework, and still stands.

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Emanuele Papi

Emanuele Papi (30 August 1959) is an Italian classical archaeologist. He is professor of classical archaeology at the University of Siena, and professor or Roman archaeology at the Italian Archaeological School of Athens. His primary research interests are the topography of Ancient Rome, the archaeology of Roman Mediterranean provinces, and the economy and trade of Rome and the Roman Empire.

Historic Monuments and Sites of Morocco

The cultural heritage of Morocco (patrimoine national) is protected and promoted in accordance with Law 19-05 (2005) and Law 22-80 (1980), which relate to the nation's Historic Monuments (monuments historiques), Sites (sites), inscriptions, and objects of art and antiquity. The national heritage register, Inventaire National du Patrimoine Culturel, is maintained by the Institut National des Sciences de l'Archéologie et du Patrimoine (INSAP).

Iulia Campestris Babba

Iulia Campestris Babba is a Mauretanian city created as Roman colony around 30 BC by emperor Augustus.

Iulia Constantia Zilil

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Iulia Valentia Banasa

Iulia Valentia Banasa was a Roman city in northern Morocco. It was one of the three colonias in Mauretania Tingitana founded by emperor Augustus between 33 and 25 BC for veterans of the battle of Actium.


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List of archaeological sites by country

This is a list of notable archaeological sites sorted by country and territories.

For one sorted by continent and time period, see the list of archaeological sites by continent and age.

Lixus (ancient city)

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Rabat Archaeological Museum

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René Rebuffat

René Rebuffat is a French historian and archaeologist, specializing in ancient Africa. He has conducted archaeological excavations at Thamusida in Morocco, Bu-Njem Gholaia in Libya, and in the Sebou basin in Morocco. He also worked on archaeological sites of Aléria and Jublains.

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Volubilis (Berber languages: Walili, Arabic: وليلي‎) is a partly excavated Berber city in Morocco situated near the city of Meknes, and commonly considered as the ancient capital of the kingdom of Mauretania. Built in a fertile agricultural area, it developed from the 3rd century BC onward as a Berber, then proto-Carthaginian, settlement before being the capital of the kingdom of Mauretania. It grew rapidly under Roman rule from the 1st century AD onward and expanded to cover about 42 hectares (100 acres) with a 2.6 km (1.6 mi) circuit of walls. The city gained a number of major public buildings in the 2nd century, including a basilica, temple and triumphal arch. Its prosperity, which was derived principally from olive growing, prompted the construction of many fine town-houses with large mosaic floors.

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The ruins remained substantially intact until they were devastated by an earthquake in the mid-18th century and subsequently looted by Moroccan rulers seeking stone for building Meknes. It was not until the latter part of the 19th century that the site was definitively identified as that of the ancient city of Volubilis. During and after the period of French rule over Morocco, about half of the site was excavated, revealing many fine mosaics, and some of the more prominent public buildings and high-status houses were restored or reconstructed. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, listed for being "an exceptionally well preserved example of a large Roman colonial town on the fringes of the Empire".

Romano-Berber cities in Roman North Africa
and Provinces
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Former cities in Morocco

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