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Mauri people

The Roman Empire under Hadrian (ruled 117–138), showing the location of the Mauri
Eastern Hemisphere in 476 CE, showing the Mauri kingdoms after the fall of Rome.

Mauri (from which derives the English term "Moors") was the Latin designation for the population of Mauretania, the part of Africa west of Numidia, corresponding roughly to the territory of modern Algeria and Morocco. Mauri (Μαῦροι) is recorded by Strabo, who wrote in the early 1st century, as the native name, which was also adopted into Latin, while he cites the Greek name for the same people as Maurusii (Μαυρούσιοι).[1]

The name Mauri as a tribal confederation or generic ethnic desigator thus seems to roughly correspond to the people known as Numidians in earlier ethnography; both terms presumably group early Berber-speaking populations (the earliest Libyco-Berber epigraphy dates to about the 3rd century BC). In AD 44, the Roman Empire incorporated the region as the province of Mauretania, later divided into Mauretania Caesariensis and Mauretania Tingitana. The area around Carthage was already part of the province of Africa. Roman rule was effective enough so that these provinces became integrated into the empire.

By the early Christian era, the byname Mauritius identified anyone originating in Africa (the Maghreb), roughly corresponding to Berber populations. Two prominent "Mauritian" churchmen were Tertullian and St. Augustine. The 3rd-century Christian saint Mauritius, in whose honour the given name Maurice originated, was from Egypt.

After the fall of Rome, the Germanic kingdom of the Vandals ruled much of the area. Neither Vandal nor Byzantine could extend effective rule; the interior remained under Mauri (Berber) control.[2] After the Muslim conquest of the Maghreb, there seem to have been continued Mauri resistance for another 50 years.[3] The Chronicle of 754 still mentions Mauri but by the High Middle Ages the endonym seems to have disappeared, while Christian sources begin to apply the term Mauri, Moors to the Islamic populations of the Maghreb and Andalusia in general.

The modern state of Mauritania received its name as a French colony in 1903; it was named after ancient Mauretania in spite of its being situated considerably to the south of the ancient province.

See also


  1. ^ οἰκοῦσι δ᾽ ἐνταῦθα Μαυρούσιοι μὲν ὑπὸ τῶν Ἑλλήνων λεγόμενοι, Μαῦροι δ᾽ ὑπὸ τῶν Ῥωμαίων καὶ τῶν ἐπιχωρίων "Here dwell a people called by the Greeks Maurusii, and by the Romans and the natives Mauri" Strabo, Geographica 17.3.2. "Mauri"s.v., 1879 Latin DictionaryLewis and Short,
  2. ^ Jamil M. Abun-Nasr, A History of the Maghrib (Cambridge Univ., 1971) at 27, 38 & 43; Michael Brett and Elizabeth Fentress, The Berbers (Blackwell 1996) at 14, 24, 41–54; Henri Terrasse, History of Morocco (Casablanca: Atlantides 1952) at 39–49, esp. 43–44; Serge Lancel, Carthage (Librairie Artheme Fayard 1992, Blackwell 1995) at 396–401; Glenn Markoe, The Phoenicians, Berkeley, CA: University of California, 2000, pp. 54–56.
  3. ^ c.f. Kusaila, Kahina. "The conquest of North Africa and Berber resistance" in General History of Africa.
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