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Sicca Veneria



A titular see in Africa Proconsularis, suffragan of Carthage. Sicca was an ancient important town in the kingdom of Numidia, very probably of Phoenician origin, on the Bagradas, on the road from Carthage to Hippo Regius and from Musti to Cirta. It got its name from a celebrated temple of Venus. It was to Sicca, after the first Punic War, that the Carthaginians sent the Mercenaries whose discontent they feared. Included later in the proconsulate it received from Augustus the title of colony. It had moreover been colonized by the Sittians of Cirta, whence the name Colonia Cirta Nova and Colonia Julia Veneria Cirta Nova Iulia; it is sometimes even called simply Cirta. Arnobius taught rhetoric there under Diocletian. Six of its bishops are known: Castus, at the Council of Carthage, 255; Patritius in 349; Fortunatianus mentioned in 407, present in 411 at a conference of Carthage and spoken of by St. Augustine, "Retractationes" XLI; Urbanus in 418, mentioned in 429 by St. Augustine, "Epist." ccxxix; Paul towards 480; Candidus in 646. The town commanding the principal natural roads leading from Algeria to Tunis preserved a great strategic importance till the French occupation; the Arabs called it Shikka Benar, or Shak Banaria, but it is better known as Le Kef (rock). It is the chief town of a civil "controle" in Tunis, contains 6000 inhabitants, and is connected with Tunis by a railroad. Its only interesting monuments are two mosques and the fortress. Among the Roman ruins are baths, cisterns, the remains of a temple (of Augustus?); some of the inscriptions discovered are Christian; the most curious ruins are however those of the Basilica Kasr el-Ghoul, 107.25 feet by 52 feet ending in an apse; the flooring was in mosaics; the baptistery of Dar el-Djir; a monastery below Ain Hadjima; and especially the Basilica of St. Peter of Dar el-Kous, of which the narthex is at present used as a church: it measures 139.75 feet by 54.75, the naves are roofless, but the apse is intact

SMITH, Dict. of Greek and Roman Geog. s. v.; MULLER, Notes a Ptolemy, ed. Didot, I, 646; TOULOTTE, Geog. de l'Afrique chretienne. Proconsulaire (Rennes, 1892), 241-6; DIEHL, L'Afrique byzantine (Paris, 1896), passim.

S. Pétridès.








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