Cirta, the capital of the ancient Massylii, in Numidia, on the site of the modern city of Constantine, Algeria. It was built by architects from Carthage, and its name in Phoenician signified city. It had great natural strength, standing upon a steep rock, almost surrounded by a tributary of the Ampsaga (now the Rumel). The palace of the Massylian kings was one of its ornaments. In the second Punic war it was in league with Carthage during the reign of King Gala; but his son and successor Masi-nissa joined the Romans in 206 B. C, and contributed to their success, but was himself forced to fly before the Carthaginians and their ally Syphax, until toward the close of the war the Romans restored him. His successor Micipsa enlarged and beautified Cirta, settling Greek colonists in it, and in his time it maintained an army of 10,000 cavalry and 20,000 infantry. After his death, when the Romans divided the kingdom between Ad-herbal, the legitimate heir, and Jugurtha, the former held the capital. He was besieged there by Jugurtha, and forced to surrender.
This act brought on the Jugurthine war, and after the defeat and death of Jugurtha Cirta passed with the rest of Numidia under the Romans, who established there a colony, called Colonia Sittianorum, from the chief Sittius to whom it was granted by Julius Cresar. It retained this name until the time of Constantine, who restored it from the ruin into which it had fallen, and called it Constantina. It was the central point for all the Roman roads in Numidia. Its ruins are more extended than the modern city. Among them are the bridge across the Rumel, adorned with bass reliefs, and still in good repair, and four gates with Roman sculptures. A triumphal arch has been removed to Paris.