Lambessa, Or Lambese, a French penal colony of Algeria, in the province and 55 m. S. by W. of the city of Constantine, founded in 1848-'50; pop. of the town about 400, of whom half are Europeans. A French commander resides in the place, and is supported by a body of officers and soldiers. Lambessa contains a church, a hospital, a post office, and various other public buildings, the principal of which is the prison, built at a cost of $350,000. The prisoners are permitted to work at their former trades; half of the proceeds of their labor is given to them at once, and the remainder when they are set free. The neighboring country is well adapted for agriculture and fruit growing, but is not yet much cultivated. - Lambessa occupies the site of the ancient Lambese or Lambaesa, which was one of the most important cities in the interior of Numidia, belonging to the Massylii. Under the Romans an entire legion was stationed here, and among its interesting ruins are the remains of an amphitheatre, a temple of AEsculapius, a triumphal arch, and other buildings, enclosed by a wall in which 40 gates have been traced, 15 of them still in a good state of preservation. Statues of Jupiter, AEsculapius, and Hygiea, and busts of Roman emperors and empresses have been found, besides a number of tombs and inscriptions.
The population could not have been much less than 50,000. A synod was held there in A. D. 240, attended by 100 prelates. The city was destroyed by the Vandals in the 5th century, and its site was lost; it was discovered in 1844 by the French commandant Delamarre.