During years of travelling through North Africa, author Barnaby Rogerson has encountered a handful of stories so complicated that he could not place them into neat, tidy narratives. These are stories of characters who were neither distinctly good nor noticeably bad, neither malicious nor noble. In Search of Ancient North Africa is a journey into the ruins of a landscape to make sense of these stories through the multilayered lives of six individuals. Rogerson digs into the lives of Queen Dido, who was a sacrificial refugee; King Juba II, a prisoner of war who became a compliant tool of the Roman Empire; Septimius Severus, an unpromising provincial who, as its leader, brought his empire to its dazzling apogee; St. Augustine, an intellectual careerist who became a bishop and a saint; Hannibal, the greatest general the world has ever known; and Masinissa, the man who eventually defeated him. Together these six lives, clouded with as much myth as fact, are characters that represent classical North Africa. Among these life stories, we explore ruins and monuments tell of their lives and see the multiple connections that bind the culture of this region with the wider world, particularly the spiritual traditions of the ancient Near East.
In Search of Ancient North Africa sheds new light on a time and place at the crossroads of numerous histories and cultures. It offers the first history of ancient North Africa told through the lives of North Africans themselves.