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Mistakes and misunderstandings,
This review is from: Algeria (Lonely Planet Country Guides) (Paperback)
This guidebook about Algeria was published by Lonely Planet in 2007. I believe this is a good guidebook when it comes to practical information about hotels and restaurants and transport from A to B. But when it comes to historical background and presentation of the ancient sites, there are mistakes and misunderstandings. In addition, several important locations are not mentioned at all. Let me explain:
The following locations are not mentioned in the book:
* Diana Veteranorum (modern Zana)
* Thubursicum Numidarum (modern Khemissa)
* Madauros (modern M'daourouch)
* Theveste (modern Tébessa)
* The so-called Tomb of the Christian Woman
* Saldae (French colonial name: Bougie; modern name: Béjaïa)
Mistakes and misunderstandings:
(1) On page 24 we are told:
"The first of the Punic wars lasted from 263 to 241, during which the Carthaginians lost numerous naval battles and finally accepted Roman terms and abandoned Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica. Carthage consolidated its position in Africa but Roman armies landed at Utica (Tunisia) in 204 BC. Carthage capitulated and paid an enormous price giving up its fleet and overseas territories."
This account is incomplete and inaccurate. Suffice it to say that the first Punic war took place 264-241, the second 218-201 and the third 149-146.
(2) On page 105 the authors mention Tipasa:
"While neighbouring Cherchell and Icosium, the ancient settlement at Algiers, were sacked by Berbers in AD 371, Tipaza's wall - 2200 m long, defended by 37 towers - held, only to give way the following year [i.e. AD 372] to the force of the Vandals..."
The ancient wall was 2,300 m long.
The Vandals arrived in Africa in 429.
(3) On page 106 the authors mention Chercell and King Juba II:
"... following Juba's death in 23 BC."
Juba II died in AD 23 or 24. He ruled for almost fifty years, from 25 BC to AD 23 or 24.
The author does not mention Macrinus (Roman emperor 217-218) who came from this town.
There is no map of the ancient site.
Read about King Juba II in The World of Juba II and Kleopatra Selene: Royal Scholarship on Rome's African Frontier by Duane W. Roller (hardcover 2003, paperback 2015).
(4) On page 134 the authors mention the Grand Baths in Djemila:
"... a double-sided exercise room leads to two changing rooms and then on to the hot, tepid and cold rooms..."
The order of the rooms is wrong. It should be the cold, the tepid and hot room. This is the traditional order in the Roman bath house.
(5) On page 125 the authors mention the French prison in Lambaesis:
"... a penitentiary built by the French in 1855."
The French prison is from 1852.
The authors also mention the four-sided arch in this camp:
"The most visible remains of the camp is the four-sided arch, often called the praetorium, erected in 268."
The year AD 268 comes from an inscription noting a restauration of the building. The arch itself dates from around AD 129, that is the time of Hadrian (117-138). Emperor Hadrian visited the camp in 128, but this fact is not mentioned. There is no map of the ancient site.
Read about Hadrian's visit to Lambaesis in Emperor Hadrian's speeches to the African Army: A New Text by M. P. Speidel (2007).
(6) On page 113 the authors mention the famous church father Augustine and the town Hippo Regius where he lived and worked for many years:
"In 393 he was elected to the bishopric of Hippo..."
Augustine was elected bishop of Hippo in 395. The book does not mention the famous Roman author Gajus Svetonius Tranquillus who was (probably) born in this town around AD 69.
(7) On page 127 the authors mention Timgad:
"From the museum a path leads northwest to the Great Baths of the north."
Actually, the path leads southwest.
They also mention other monuments in the town:
"Eastwards the paved way leads to the East Baths, completed in 146, and the Mascula Gate, which marked the eastern end of town."
Actually, the East Bath complex was built around 100 and extended in 167. The Mascula Gate was completed in 146.
I have told the publisher about the mistakes, misunderstandings and unfortunate omissions. I hope they will be corrected in the next edition of the book.
PS 1. In 2008 Bradt Travel Guides published a guidebook about Algeria. It is written by Jonathan Oakes. Here is a link: Algeria.
PS 2. In 2009 Bradt Travel Guides published a book about the Roman sites in North Africa, which includes a section about Algeria. It is written by Ethel Davies. Here is a link: North Africa: The Roman Coast.