Discover the Archaeological Site of Khemissa, Algeria

Khemissa is an Algerian town located in the northeastern part of the country. It is also the commune (administrative subdivision) in Souk Ahras Province. The town is best known for being the home of one of the best preserved Roman Theaters – Thubursicum Numidarum. In ancient times Khemissa offered protection to the Numidian homes. Over the centuries, Khemissa expanded to the north and west to form a city spreading over 65 hectares.

Thubursicum Numidarum was a place of utmost importance due to its strategic location on a road linking the port of Hippo Regus (near Annaba) to Theveste (Tebessa) was an estableshment for the Legion of Africa.

There were excavating expeditions run in 1877 and from 1903 to 1905. During this period, several ancient ruins have been unearthed that can be visited:

  • The Thubursicum Numidarum Theater
  • Ancient Baths
  • The Arch of Trajan (Arc of Honor and Trumph)
  • Monumental gates
  • Ancient streets
  • A judicial basilica
  • Roman Houses
  • An aqueduct
  • Funerary monuments with many epitaphs
  • Byzantine fort
  • Porticos
  • Tables of measures
  • Temples
  • Statues of divinities and notables

According to Stephane Gsell, Thubursicum Numidarum was with the status of castellum (a small village) in the region. During the centuries, it has been marked that the city status changed considerably. On an inscription dating from the year 100, Khemissa is mentioned as civitas (city) while on another, dated from the year 113, it is described as municipality. The municipality was later on established as a colony in the year 270. The majority of the residents of Khemissa were farmers.It was an important city for Christianity for it was here that there were decisive struggles which divided the church by opposing Catholics and Donatists for over three centuries. In 397-398, Saint Augustine twice visited Khemissa to discuss with the bishops of the Donatist community on the possibilities to end the rivalry.

Ask us about adding Khemissa to your Algeria tour and explore one of Algeria’s least visited archaeological sites.

About the author

Joshua Mok has been living in Tunisia since 2016. He has traveled extensively throughout the country, and has firsthand experience with the language, people, and culture of North Africa. It is his passion to introduce to others some of the best destinations in North Africa that he has experienced.

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