Northern Africa 20 AD: Tacfarinas War

Political map of Northern Africa on 19 Feb 20 AD (Rome and Northern Africa: Tacfarinas War), showing the following events: Juba II’s Atlantic expedition; Gaetulian War; Tacfarinas War; Rhapta.

In the early 1st century AD Roman expansion in North Africa led to conflict with the Gaetulian tribes of Numidia. The Romans defeated the Gaetuli in 6 AD, only to face a more extensive uprising under Tacfarinas of the Musulamii eleven years later. A veteran of the Roman auxiliaries, Tacfarinas caused havoc across Africa Proconsularis and Mauretania for seven years before the Romans finally managed to ambush and kill him.

Main Events

10? BC Juba II’s Atlantic expedition

During their reign in the Roman client kingdom of Mauretania, King Juba II (r. 25 BC–23 AD) and his wife Cleopatra Selene II (r. 26/20–5 BC) sent a contingent beyond the Pillars of Hercules (Strait of Gibraltar) to re-establish the ancient Phoenician dye manufacturing process on the northwest African coast. The expedition successfully founded a factory at Mogador in the Iles Purpuraires (Purple Islands) in the west of modern Morocco. This or future expeditions explored the Fortunate Islands (Canary Islands), discovering ruins but no people—although archaeological evidence suggests that the Guanches had already been living there for hundreds of wikipedia

3–6 AD Gaetulian War

After some 90 years of peace, Gaetulian tribes attacked Roman-occupied North Africa, possibly in response to Roman-mandated land incursions. Rome dispatched Cossus Cornelius Lentulus to Africa, where he became proconsul of Africa Proconsularis in 6 AD and earned the sobriquet Gaetulicus by successfully suppressing the invasion. Following the war, the Musulamii—hitherto a minor Gaetulian sub-tribe—began asserting themselves and formed their own wikipedia

17–24 AD Tacfarinas War

Early during Tiberius’ reign, Tacfarinas—a deserter from a Roman auxiliary regiment—rallied the Musulamii and other Numidian tribes behind him against Roman encroachment, threatening the vital North African grain supply to Rome. Despite suffering defeats at the hands of three separate proconsuls from 17 to 22 AD, Tacfarinas continued to gain followers and by 24 AD still seemed as serious a threat as ever. In that year, Proconsul Dolabella chased Tacfarinas into the client Kingdom of Mauretania, where the Romans managed to ambush and kill him at the ruined fort of Auzea (Sour El-Ghozlane, Algeria), bringing the war to an wikipedia

20? AD Rhapta

By the first decades of the 1st century AD, merchants of the Roman Empire were active in the Erythraean Sea (Indian Ocean) as far east as modern Bangladesh and as far south as modern Tanzania. The Arabian kingdom of Ḥimyar maintained dominance over a number of outposts on the coast of Azania (East Africa), most notably at Rhapta—a port on the Rufiji Delta or nearby Mafia Island, where the Romans traded for ivory and tortoise wikipedia