Numidia History

A region that was once split between the great Massyli and Massaesyli tribal groups, what the Romans referred to as Numidia was a territory of land, stretching from Carthage to the Mulucha river, more so than a country.

Though their role in history was rather uneventful in the large scale, they contributed to battles that defined "large scale." For instance, in the Second Punic War the Massyli supported Rome in her conquest against Carthage, yet the western Massaesyli people took the side of the African naval power during the conflict. Following the defeat as Carthage, all of the land tagged as Numidia was granted by the Romans to Massinissa, king of the Massaesyli. At this point, Numidia was a significant territory across the African continent, totally surrounding the city of Carthage. Certainly, the land received by Massinissa must have been a grand prize for aid in the war.

However, Numidia didn't maintain its friendship with Rome for long. In 118 B.C., Jugurtha, grandson of heroic Massinissa, was one of three rulers of Numidia, but was not satisfied with his kingdom. Greedy, Jugurtha attacked one of these men and bribed Roman officials to once again re-draw the lines of his kingdom, giving him the prosperous half of the territory following the war. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough to please Jugurtha, so he attacked once again. However, he killed a Roman citizen during this skirmish, but the wrath of Rome was nothing a golden coin couldn't fix, and he maintained the peace with the Romans, although his time was running out. When called to Rome to explain the peace treaty that he had 'earned', he attempted to assassinate a political rival and lost all respect of the people. He was now in a bit of trouble, and Rome tipped in the favor of war.

During the early years of the fighting, Jugurtha won many victories. He benefited from poor Roman tactics and incompetent leadership, but Gaius Marius, a new consul, soon arrived on the scene and Jugurtha was quickly caught. He was executed in 104 B.C. The land that he held authority over was assimilated into the kingdom of Bocchus, king of Mauretania. The rest of Numidia was ruled by local authorities and other various kings until being officially colonized by the Romans.

When Vandal groups moved from Spain into Numidia in 428 A.D., combined with lowered fertility of the land, the structure and culture of the land began to degenerate.

Though not one of the most distinguished civilizations to have existed - if the disunified kingdoms could be referred to as one "civilization" Numidia played a very interesting role during the heyday of the Roman Republic and Empire.