Algeria History – Ancient Libyan

Algeria History – Ancient Libyan

The primitive ethnic background of the regions corresponding to present-day Algeria was made up of Berbers; and to this stock belonged the populations that, through classical sources, appear to be residing there, i.e. Numidians, Mauri and Getuli and who then, as the geographical knowledge spreads, are better known in their subdivisions: Massyli or Massylii, Masaesyli or Masaesylii, Nacmusii, Machurebi, Baniuri, Nabathrae, Misulani, etc. Elements of knowledge of these populations in historical times are essentially epigraphic documents, rock drawings, various types of construction, information from classical writers on social status, religion, etc. The ancient Berbers had their own writing, of unknown origin, widespread throughout North Africa, perpetuated to this day, tif ī nagh (v.) of the Tuāreg. This writing does not appear to have been used for works or long compositions, but only for epigraphs which are mostly funerary, short and rough in shape, and in part, like those found at Dugga in Tunisia, with a monumental character and of a certain length. Their interpretation has so far little progressed. A large number of tomb-type epigraphs have been found in Algeria, and mainly in the department of Constantine. They mostly contain the name of the deceased followed by a W. meaning “son”, and therefore from the name of the father; in several follow other words that probably indicate the place or tribe of origin and perhaps the profession. Some of these proper names are found in the current usage of the Berbers or are explained with Berber root; someone compares with the names of Libyan characters cited by classical writers, such as eg. those of “Mskrd ‘son of Dbr” of inscription 107 of J. Halévy’s edition, which correspond to the names cited by Sallust “Dabar, Massugradae filius, ex gente Masinissae” (De bello Iug., CVIII), correspondence that could not only of onomastics, but also of people, in the sense that it is, in Sallust,(even among today’s Berbers there is the custom of resurrecting, as they say, the names of deceased relatives).

There is no doubt that the ancient Libyan inscriptions that go back, at least as far as can be drawn from those certainly datable to the Roman period, are written in Berber; and in today’s Berber languages ​​we must look for the elements for their interpretation, which once completed will provide information not only on North African onomastics and toponymy, but also on historical characters and indigenous civilization. For Algeria 2011, please check

In terms of constructions, it is not always possible to distinguish what is properly Berber from works possibly belonging to other lineages, or due to the influence of other civilizations; thus it is not always possible to distinguish what belongs to historical epochs from prehistoric epochs. It is worth mentioning the megalithic monuments of the dolmen type, which served as tombs and which in various locations in Algeria (Dielfa, Guyotville, Sigus, etc.) are gathered together in large numbers, so as to form real necropolises. They are attributed in part to a historical epoch and close to the Christian era or even after it. Monuments of the cromlech type are also frequent in Algeria, formed of a circular enclosure of dense stones, or of two or three concentric enclosures, and which probably served as tombs. The menhirs are found in large numbers in the Medjana plain. Of the other type of funerary monument called tumulus, which presents a variety of shapes, there are also examples in the surroundings of Mascara, Frenda, etc. In Aurès and Ḥoḍna the sh ū shah (tuft) is common, a construction in the shape of a cylindrical tower, just over 2 m high. and with about 5 m. in diameter; and the enclosures of concentric or ellipsoidal stones rising with steps, called baz ī na. Alongside these primitive-style monuments, there are two other monuments that have an artistic character, perhaps due to influences from other civilizations, although the elements are not clearly seen; that is the Madgh ā sen (Medracen) between Batna and Constantina, a large mausoleum made up of a cylindrical base, decorated on the outside with columns and surmounted by a conical stepped construction (fig. p. 452), probably the tomb of some king or family royal indigenous. Another similar monument, called the tomb of the Christian, is located between Castiglione and Tipaza, and is remembered by Pomponio Mela as the tomb of a royal family; its construction has been attributed by someone to King Juba II. As for the “tuft” mausoleums, these are probably indigenous forms of tombs to which the civilizations which arrived in North Africa gave an artistic character.

Two series of rock graffiti, found in various places in Algeria, can be distinguished, one prehistoric, as also appears from the representations of animals which later disappeared from those regions; and another, which is attributed to the Libyan-Berber period, among which the camel is frequent. Often there appear characters tif ī nagh. Such designs are found in great abundance in the South Oranese and in the Sahara. – From classical sources we get information on the social status of the Libyan populations. The family was patriarchal, with residues of matriarchy, of which some have been perpetuated until recent times and even up to the present day. The Libîs were, like their current descendants, partly sedentary, partly nomadic. From the union of various tribes, monarchical states were also formed in ancient times, such as those of Numidia and Mauretania. The religion of these peoples was essentially animistic: mountains, caves, trees, rivers, ponds, etc. they were objects of worship; likewise some celestial bodies. Indications of zoolatry are found in various places. Magical practices were widespread (see also the entries B erberi, Nhumid).

Algeria History - Ancient Libyan

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