Timgad was a Roman colonial town in North Africa founded by the Emperor Trajan around 100 AD. The full name of the town was Colonia Marciana Ulpia Traiana Thamugadi. Trajan commemorated the city after his mother Marcia, father Marcus Ulpius Traianus and his eldest sister Ulpia Marciana.
Located in modern-day Algeria, about 35 km east of the town of Batna, the ruins are important as one of the finest examples of the grid plan in Roman city planning.
The city was established as a military colony by the Emperor Trajan around 100 AD. It was intended to serve as a stronghold against the Berbers in the nearby Aures Mountains. It was originally populated largely by Parthian veterans of the Roman army who were granted lands in return for years in service.
The city enjoyed a peaceful existence for the first several hundred years and became a centre of Christian activity starting in the 3rd century, and a Donatist centre in the 4th century.
In the 5th century, the city was sacked by the Vandals before falling into decline. In 535 AD the Byzantine general Solomon found the city when he came to occupy it. In the following century, the city was briefly repopulated as a primarily Christian city before being destroyed by Berbers in the 7th century and being abandoned.
Because no new settlements were founded on the site after the 7th century, the town was partially preserved under sand up to a depth of approximately one meter. The encroachment of the Sahara on the ruins was the principal reason why the town is so well preserved.
After the Berber sacking in the 7th century the city disappeared from history until its excavation in 1881.
Timgad was named as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982.
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