Thursday, November 3, 2016
Another reminder of the extent of Roman civilization at its height. These are the remains of the what is called today the Chabet Ilelouine bridge, but is really the remnants of the aqueduct supplying water to the ancient city of Caesarea Mauritaniae (modern day Cherchel) which sits on the Algerian coast mid-way between Oran and Algiers.
The city was the capital of the Kingdom of Mauritania, an ally of Rome, before its incorporation into the Empire in 42AD. The aqueduct runs for about 35 miles from mountains to the south to the city and was initially built during the reign of Juba, the last King of Mauritania, and a friend of Emperor Augustus. The aqueduct was rebuilt in its current form during the 2nd century, when Caesarea was the capital of a Roman province. The area remained subject to Rome until the middle of the 5th century, when it became governed by the Vandals, a barbarian tribe which crossed the Rhine in 406, settled initially in Spain and then migrated en masse to Africa in 429, establishing a kingdom that lasted for a century.
Rising more than 100 feet above the valley, the aqueduct bridge at Chabet Ilelouine, is the second tallest in Roman Africa and tenth highest in the entire empire. That such effort, in engineering, construction and expense, was made in an obscure corner of the empire, shows both its wealth and determination to bring the basic benefits of its way of life to all of the cities in its orbit.