Arsenal Of Tunis


Soon after Hasan ibn Nu‘man, the Umayyad of Ifriqiyyah (modern Tunisia), captured Carthage (A.D. 698), he began to build a city at the head of Lake Tunis in what was an ideal location for a marine arsenal. By approximately 700 the Umayyad caliph ‘Abd ibn Marwan had ordered Hasan to build an Arab arsenal at Tunis.

At the same time ‘Abd ordered his brother, who was the of Egypt, to send one thousand Copts and their families to Tunis in order to participate in the construction of a fleet. specified that ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, the governor, should supply all necessary provisions (al-Bakri, 1965, pp. 83-84), that the should supply the lumber, and that the Copts should construct and outfit the ships.

Existing studies indicate that Coptic artisans inhabited other ports in North Africa (al-Tijani, 1958, pp. 6-7). reports that Copts inhabited the suburbs of Tripoli and that they composed most of the population of Ajdabiyyah (pp. 17, 20).

For a time the of Alexandria sent to serve the Coptic communities in North Africa (Ibn Abi Dinar, 1967, p. 15). At present the fate of these communities is not known.


  • Bakri, al-. Description de l‘Afrique septentrionale. Arabic text and trans. Mac Guckin de Slane. Rev. ed., Paris, 1965.
  • Ibn Abi Dinar. Al-Mu’nis fi Akhbar Ifriqiyah wa Tunis, ed. M. Shamam. Tunis, 1967.
  • Sebag, P. “Les Travaux maritimes de Hasan Ibn Nu‘man.” Revue de l‘Institut des Belles Lettres arabes 33 (1970):41-56.
  • Tijani, al-. Rihlat al-Tijani, ed. H. H. ‘Abd al-Wahhab. Tunis, 1958.