Calama (modern Guelma, Algeria) is about 65 km south of Hippo Regius (Annaba, Algeria) and the Mediterranean coast.
The map above also shows Souk Ahras (ancient Thagaste, Augustine’s home town). The geographical relationship between Calama, Hippo Regius, and Thagaste is important for reasons previously discussed on the blog.
Augustine’s friend and biographer, Possidius, was bishop of Calama. Although just outside of the diocese of Hippo Regius, it was still part of Augustine’s intellectual community.
Guelma is well within the foothills of the Aurès mountains but at 256 m above sea level is not yet up in the mountains of Numidia.
The drive south from Annaba to Guelma is beautiful.
Just south of Annaba with the largest steel plant in Africa in the background
Nearing Guelma on the road south from Annaba
Guelma is famous for its Roman theater, rebuilt by the French and still functional today. (There are also loads of stelae and a nice small museum, but that’s the topic of another post.)
The theater is impressive, especially in comparison to the remains of the theater at Hippo Regius. But it’s heavily reconstructed, and even still it’s not nearly as impressive as the theater ruins we will find elsewhere. (Stayed tuned.) This is what it looks like.
The French had dismantled the theater in the 19th c. to build barracks. In response to the outrage of archaeologists, they rebuilt it between 1902 and 1918.