ARSENAL OF TUNIS. Soon after Hasan ibn Nu‘man, the Umayyad governor 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 al-Malik ibn Marwan had ordered Hasan to build an Arab arsenal at Tunis.
At the same time ‘Abd al-Malik ordered his brother, who was the governor of Egypt, to send one thousand Copts and their families to Tunis in order to participate in the construction of a fleet.Instructions specified that ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, the governor, should supply all necessary provisions (al-Bakri, 1965, pp. 83-84), that the Berbers 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). Al-Bakri 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 patriarch of Alexandria sent bishops to serve the Coptic communities in North Africa (Ibn Abi Dinar, 1967, p. 15). At
present the fate of these communities is not known.
LEONARD C. CHIARELLI
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