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Tomb of Masinissa, Constantine, Algeria

Tomb of Masinissa, Constantine, Algeria. Photo: M. Gasmi

(Ca. 238-ca.148 BCE) First king of Numidia, corresponding largely with modern northeastern Algeria.
Masinissa was a the leader of a Berber tribe, and first he fought on Carthaginian side in Spain, but from 206 he started to cooperate with the Romans, and assisted in the battle at Zama (near today's Maktar, Tunisia) which concluded the 2nd Punic war.
With Roman backing he established his own kingdom of Numidia, west of Carthage with Cirta as its capital. All of this happened in accordance with Roman interests, because they wanted to give Carthage more problems with their neighbours.
Under Masinissa many of the semi-nomadic tribes became peasant farmers. Still there were few urbanized areas in Masinissa's Numidia.
All through his life Masinissa extended his territory, and he was cooperating with Rome when he towards the end of his life provoked Carthage to go to war against him. This gave Rome an excuse to declare war against Carthage, and started the 3rd and last Punic War.
At his death, Numidia was divided into kingdoms ruled by his sons.

By Tore Kjeilen