Mahdia (Arabic: المهدية al-Mahdīyah) is a Tunisian coastal city with 62,189 inhabitants, south of Monastir and southeast of Sousse.

Mahdia
المهدية
Clockwise from top left: the Skifa al-Kahla (left) and Mahdia Museum (right); the Great Mosque of Mahdia; a street in Mahdia; the port of Mahdia
Official seal of Mahdia
Mahdia is located in Tunisia
Mahdia
Mahdia
Location in Tunisia
Coordinates: 35°30′N 11°04′E / 35.500°N 11.067°E / 35.500; 11.067
Country Tunisia
GovernorateMahdia Governorate
Delegation(s)Mahdia
Government
 • MayorFaiza Boubaker Belkhir (Independent)
Population
 (2014)
 • Total62,189
Time zoneUTC1 (CET)

Mahdia is a provincial centre north of Sfax. It is important for the associated fish-processing industry, as well as weaving. It is the capital of Mahdia Governorate.

History edit

Antiquity edit

The old part of Mahdia corresponds to the Roman city called Aphrodisium and, later, called Africa (a name perhaps derived from the older name),[1][2] or Cape Africa.[3][4][5][6] The Catholic Church's list of titular sees includes a no longer residential bishopric called Africa[7] and, since there is no record of an episcopal see in Roman times called by either of these names (nor by that of Alipota, another Roman town that Charles Tissot suggested tentatively might be represented by present-day Mehdia),[6] it is supposed that the episcopal see of Africa was established when the city was held by the Kingdom of Sicily, as a part of the Kingdom of Africa (1147–1160) and when Pope Eugene III consecrated a bishop for it in 1148. An inventory of movable property of the church of Africa (inventarium thesauri Africani) exists in an archive of the Cappella Palatina of Palermo in Sicily.[8] Robert Favreau identified Mahdia instead with ancient Ruspae or Ruspe,[9][verification needed] which is more commonly taken to have been at Henchir Sbia (or just Sbia), north of Mahdia, or at the ruins known as Ksour Siad.[10] The most illustrious bishop of this see was Fulgentius of Ruspe. The Catholic Church's list of titular sees, which identifies the see of Africa as Mahdia, identifies Ruspe/Ruspae as Henchir Sbia.[11]

The Mahdia shipwreck – a sunken ship found off Mahdia's shore, containing Greek art treasures – is dated to about 80 BC, the early part of Roman rule in this region.

Islamic era edit

Muslim Mahdia was founded by the Fatimids under the Caliph Abdallah al-Mahdi and made the capital of Ifriqiya.[12] As the then-newly-created Fatimid Caliphate was a Shi'a regime supported by a Berber Kutama military, the caliph may have been motivated to move his capital here so as to put some distance between his power base and the predominantly Sunni city of Kairouan (the traditional capital of Ifriqiya up to that point).[13] Construction began in 916 and the new city was officially inaugurated on 20 February 921, although some construction continued afterward.[13] In addition to its heavy fortified walls, the city included the Fatimid palaces, an artificial harbor, and a congregational mosque (the Great Mosque of Mahdia). Most of the Fatimid city has not survived to the present day. The mosque, however, is one of the most well-preserved Fatimid monuments in the Maghreb, although it has been extensively damaged over time and was in large part reconstructed by archeologists in the 1960s.[13] Fragments of mosaic pavements from the palaces have also been discovered from modern excavations.[13]

In 1087, the town was attacked by raiding ships from Genoa and Pisa who burned the Muslim fleet in the harbor. The attack played a critical role in Christians' seizure of control of the Western Mediterranean, which allowed the First Crusade to be supplied by sea.[14] The Zirid dynasty, which succeeded the Fatimids in the Maghreb, moved their capital here in 1057. Their rule was brought to an end by the Norman conquest of the city in 1148. In 1160 the city came under Almohad rule.[15]

The role of the capital was taken over by Tunis in the 12th century during the Almohad era, which it remained during the Hafsid Dynasty. Later the city was subject to many raids. In 1390 it was the target of the Barbary Crusade, when a French army laid siege to the city but failed to take it.[citation needed]

The city was captured by the Spaniards in 1550. A Spanish garrison remained there until 1553. Charles V then offered the charge of the town to the Order of Saint John who ruled Malta but they refused it deeming it too expensive.[16] The emperor ordered the Viceroy of Sicily, Juan de Vega, to dismantle Mahdia despite it being a strategically important stronghold. The demolition tasks were carried out by Hernando de Acuña. Shortly after Mahdia was reoccupied by the Ottomans, but only to live by fishing and oil-works, and the town lost its logistic and commercial importance. It remained under Turkish rule until the 19th century.[citation needed]

During the Nazi Occupation of Tunisia in World War II, Mahdia was the site where Khaled Abdelwahhab hid approximately two dozen persecuted Jews.[17]

Transport edit

Gare Mahdia forms the southern terminus of the metre-gauge Sahel Metro railway line, which runs from Sousse and Monastir.[18]

Climate edit

Climate data for Mahdia (1981–2010, extremes 1951–2017)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 27.0
(80.6)
36.5
(97.7)
34.1
(93.4)
36.2
(97.2)
43.8
(110.8)
48.3
(118.9)
44.0
(111.2)
45.0
(113.0)
42.6
(108.7)
39.3
(102.7)
31.6
(88.9)
30.0
(86.0)
48.3
(118.9)
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 16.9
(62.4)
17.1
(62.8)
18.7
(65.7)
20.6
(69.1)
23.8
(74.8)
27.4
(81.3)
30.6
(87.1)
31.3
(88.3)
29.0
(84.2)
26.0
(78.8)
21.8
(71.2)
18.0
(64.4)
23.4
(74.2)
Daily mean °C (°F) 11.8
(53.2)
12.0
(53.6)
13.8
(56.8)
16.9
(62.4)
20.3
(68.5)
24.2
(75.6)
27.3
(81.1)
27.7
(81.9)
24.7
(76.5)
21.9
(71.4)
16.8
(62.2)
13.1
(55.6)
19.2
(66.6)
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 8.6
(47.5)
8.6
(47.5)
10.4
(50.7)
13.1
(55.6)
16.1
(61.0)
19.4
(66.9)
22.3
(72.1)
23.4
(74.1)
21.7
(71.1)
18.8
(65.8)
13.3
(55.9)
9.5
(49.1)
15.4
(59.8)
Record low °C (°F) 0.1
(32.2)
0.2
(32.4)
2.0
(35.6)
1.2
(34.2)
0.9
(33.6)
4.9
(40.8)
11.0
(51.8)
9.0
(48.2)
8.0
(46.4)
7.0
(44.6)
3.0
(37.4)
0.1
(32.2)
0.1
(32.2)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 43.6
(1.72)
30.4
(1.20)
26.5
(1.04)
20.1
(0.79)
17.0
(0.67)
4.5
(0.18)
0.4
(0.02)
6.9
(0.27)
57.2
(2.25)
50.1
(1.97)
46.3
(1.82)
52.5
(2.07)
355.5
(14)
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 4.4 3.9 3.5 3.5 2.2 0.8 0.1 0.9 3.8 4.5 3.9 4.5 36
Average relative humidity (%) 74.6 74.8 76.0 74.7 74.0 71.0 68.8 68.7 75.0 76.0 72.2 76.0 73.5
Source: Institut National de la Météorologie (precipitation days/humidity 1961–1990)[19][20][21][note 1]

Gallery of images edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Aphrodisium, which is now commonly called Africa, but by the Moors Mahdia" (Antique Map of Tunis, Mahdia & Peñon de Veles by Braun & Hogenberg
  2. ^ Fiche technique des sites archéologiques de Mahdia
  3. ^ Geographical Names: Cape Africa: Tunisia
  4. ^ Satellite view of Cape Africa
  5. ^ Kenneth Meyer Setton, The Papacy and the Levant, 1204-1571 (American Philosophical Society 1984 ISBN 978-0-87169161-3), p. 533
  6. ^ a b Charles Tissot, Géographie comparée de la province romaine d'Afrique (Paris 1888), p. 176
  7. ^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013 ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 838
  8. ^ J.P. Mesnage, L'Afrique chrétienne, Paris 1912, p. 114
  9. ^ Favreau, Robert (1995) Etudes d'epigraphie medievale: recueil d'articles de Robert Favreau rassemblés à l'occasion de son départ à la retraite Pulim, Limoges, page 357, footnote 113; in French
  10. ^ Sophrone Pétridès, "Ruspe" in Catholic Encyclopedia (New York 1912)
  11. ^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013 ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 961
  12. ^ "Mahdia: Historical Background". Commune-mahdia.gov.tn. Archived from the original on 2013-11-09. Retrieved 2012-07-15.
  13. ^ a b c d Bloom, Jonathan M. (2020). Architecture of the Islamic West: North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula, 700–1800. Yale University Press. pp. 47–49. ISBN 9780300218701.
  14. ^ Fuller, J.F.C., A Military History of the Western World, Volume I, Da Capo Press, 1987, p. 408 ISBN 0-306-80304-6
  15. ^ Tibi, Amin (2002). "Zirids". The Encyclopaedia of Islam. Vol. XI (Second ed.). Brill. pp. 513–516.
  16. ^ Abela, Joe. "Claude de la Sengle (1494 - 1557)". Senglea Local Council. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  17. ^ Weisel, Eva (27 December 2011). "Honoring All Who Saved Jews". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  18. ^ "Banlieue de Sahel". Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Tunisiens. Retrieved 2 April 2015.
  19. ^ "Les normales climatiques en Tunisie entre 1981 2010" (in French). Ministère du Transport. Archived from the original on 19 December 2019. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  20. ^ "Données normales climatiques 1961-1990" (in French). Ministère du Transport. Archived from the original on 21 December 2019. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  21. ^ "Les extrêmes climatiques en Tunisie" (in French). Ministère du Transport. Archived from the original on 21 December 2019. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  22. ^ "Réseau des stations météorologiques synoptiques de la Tunisie" (in French). Ministère du Transport. Retrieved 3 January 2020.

Notes edit

  1. ^ The Station ID for Mahdia is 34242111.[22]

External links edit