Hadrumetum, a prosperous Phoenician colony (Sallust, Jugurtha 19) with an excellent harbor situated on the eastern coast of modern Tunisia, was founded long before its powerful rival, carthage, to which it later became subject. After the Punic Wars Hadrumetum was made a free city (oppidum liberum ) by the Romans. Under Trajan it became a Latin colony and in Diocletian's reorganization of the empire, the capital of the Provincia Valeria Byzacena. The Vandals destroyed it c. 434 and justinian rebuilt it, giving it the name Justinianopolis. Arab invasions in the 7th century left the region of the ancient city desolate. With the arrival of the French in the 19th century the ancient site was rebuilt into the modern Susa (Sousse).
Christianity gained an early foothold in Hadrumetum. Tertullian mentions a certain Mavilus, who suffered martyrdom under the proconsul Scapula (Ad Scap. 3.6). Polycarp, Bishop of Hadrumetum, appears third among the 87 bishops listed by seniority who attended the Council of Carthage in 256 at which St. cyprian presided, and he expressed the sentiments of the council briefly and bluntly: "Whoever admits the validity of baptism conferred by heretics makes void our baptism" [Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum (Vienna 1866) 3.1:437]. Hadrumetum continued as a center of Christianity and the scene of several important councils until the 7th century. Excavations begun at the ancient site in 1885 yielded rich archeological evidence of the Roman and Christian cultures that flourished in ancient Hadrumetum. Together with Roman burial grounds, five Christian catacombs were discovered, the oldest of which dates back to the last half of the 3rd century.
Bibliography: bÖlte, Paulys Realenzklopädie der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft, ed. g. wissowa et al. 7.2 (Stuttgart 1912) 2178–80. h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, ed. f. cabrol, h. leclercq, and h. i. marrou 15v. (Paris 1907–53) 6.2:1981–2010. a. audollent, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912) 10:1460–1500. a. von harnack, The Mission and Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries, tr. and ed. j. moffatt, 2 v. (2d ed. rev., New York 1908) v.2.