memoirs, art and fragments by Thomas Milner

Archive for June 7, 2012

Timgad – North Africa

TRAJAN ARCH – TIMGAD

Algeria 1978

During a visit up to Station E, which was situated on the slopes of the Aurés Mountains, I heard of a proposed expedition to visit the Roman city of Timgad which was not far from the camp in the Wiliya of Batna, and I promptly joined the three others who were interested in visiting this notable site. I had known only the basic facts – that it was a military encampment built by the emperor Trajan in about A.D. 100.

I wasn’t prepared for what I saw: a whole Roman city rising out of the remote mountains, preserved by the obscurity of the location and the lack of interest over the centuries on the part of the sparse local population.

We were the only people there!

We walked in the steps of the Romans along paved streets with waist-high walls and wondered in awe and amazement at the long paved avenue lined with columns leading up to a whole arch still standing, presumably dedicated to Trajan.

The four of us wandered in silence around the ancient grandeur and magnificence of the place.

One of us (a Mormon from Salt Lake City), who came from farming stock, knelt and stroked one of the large square blocks of stone strewn among the weeds of that place, admiring the smooth cut:

–          Just imagine the labour it would have taken to cut this stone, he mused with a distant look in his eyes.

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