Battle of Mamma

The Battle of Mamma took place in 688 between the Arab Muslim forces of the Umayyad Caliphate and the Berbers led by Caecilius of the Kingdom of Altava.

Battle of Mamma
Part of the Muslim Conquests
Valley of Mamma, east of Timgad in the Aurès Mountains, Algeria
Result Umayyad victory
Umayyad Caliphate Kingdom of Altava
Commanders and leaders
Zuhayr ibn Qays Caecilius 


The Arab general Uqba ibn Nafi had led his men in an expedition across North Africa, eventually reaching the Atlantic Ocean and marching as far south as the Draa and Sous rivers. On his return to the east, he was ambushed by the Berber-Byzantine coalition led by Caecilius at the Battle of Vescera in which he was defeated and killed in 682.[1] Caecilius at that time held undisputed mastery over North Africa and marched to Kairouan in triumph.[1]

When Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan became the caliph, he was effective in increasing the size of his empire. Therefore, he ordered Zuhayr ibn Qays who was stationed in Barca to lead an army to retake Ifriqiya and its capital Kairouan.

In order to mount a stronger resistance, Caecilius took a position in the Aurès Mountains in which he could manage to retreat in case of defeat, while the Muslim leader Zuhayr took a decision to camp outside Kairouan near the water resources.[2]

After a heavy battle in the valley of Mamma, the Arab invaders eventually managed to defeat the defending troops and to kill their king Caecilius.


The Arab leader Zuhayr and his troops went back to Barca to fight against the invading Byzantines. The incoming ships of Byzantines came with large numbers of soldiers which defeated the Arabs and killed Zuhayr.

Dihya succeeded Caecilius as the war leader of the Berber tribes and opposed the encroaching Arab Islamic armies of the Umayyad Dynasty. Another Arab general Hasan ibn al-Nu'man marched from Egypt and captured the major Byzantine city of Carthage and other cities after the Battle of Carthage. Searching for another enemy to defeat, he was told that the most powerful monarch in North Africa was Dihyā, and accordingly marched into Numidia. The armies met near Meskiana in the present-day province of Oum el-Bouaghi, Algeria. She defeated Hasan so soundly that he fled Ifriqiya and holed up in Cyrenaica for four or five years.


  1. Conant, Jonathan (2012). Staying Roman : conquest and identity in Africa and the Mediterranean, 439-700. Cambridge New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 280–281. ISBN 0521196973.
  2. El Hareir, Idris; M'Baye, Ravane (2011). The Spread of Islam Throughout the World, Series: Different aspects of Islamic culture, 3. Paris, France: UNESCO Publishing. p. 309. ISBN 978-92-3-104153-2.