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Juba I of Numidia

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Juba I

JUBA I bust

King of Numidia

JUBA I of Numidia (c. 85–46 BC) was a king of Numidia which today is Algeria. He reigned from 60 BC until 46 BC) He was the son and successor to Hiempsal II who in 81 BC there was a revolution and Hiempsal lost his throne. Pompey the Great was then sent to Africa by the dictator Sulla to reinstate Hiempsal as king in Numidia. Consequently, Hiempsal and his successor Juba I became Pompey’s allies during the civil war against Julius Caesar. Juba traveled to Rome and during a trial, Julius Caesar insulted him by pulling on his beard. Caesar was defending his client against Juba’s father, Hiempsal. The hostility festered and then in 50 BC the tribune Gaius Scribonius Curio argued that Numidia should be sold privately.

During the Civil War, Julius Caesar sent Curio in August 49 BC, to take Africa from the Republicans. However, Curio was overconfident and did not take sufficient troops with him and was ambushed by Juba’s army. Curio found himself surrounded and was annihilated. Only a handful escaped to their ships. Juba captured several senators and took them back to Numidia for a victory celebration and then executed them.

Scipio CR 460 4

Denarius of Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio Nasica

Caesar took it upon himself to now invade Africa. Juba planned to confront Caesar aiding Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio Nasica, but Caesar’s ally Bocchus II invaded his home country. Juba panicked leaving 30 elephants behind and rushed back to defend his home country and his capital city of Zama, which is best known for its connection with what is called the Battle of Zama in which on October 19th, 202 BC when Scipio Africanus defeated Hannibal ending the Second Punic War.

Juba left Pius Scipio stranded. He needed Juba’s troops to face Caesar. In desperation, he sent a plea for assistance. Juba immediately left the command of his kingdom’s defense and joined Scipio with three legions for what would become the Battle of Thapsus. However, when Juba arrived, he could see that Scipio’s army was doomed.

Juba abandoned Scipio declining to join the battle. He fled back to Numdia with his legions.  However, the Roman general Marcus Petreius cut off Juba’s retreat. Juba fled to Zama after the Battle of Thapsus where he had a slave kill him. But his son, Juba II, was taken to Rome in 46 BC as a child, following the death of his father. There he lived under the protection of both Julius Caesar and later his successor Octavian. Juba II was educated in Roman tradition and was returned as a king.


Monetary System

 Mints: Zama, Numidia

Obverse Legends:




AR Denarius (Achtsäuliger Temple)
AE27 (9.97 grams) (Head of Zeus-Ammo to right/Elephant standing right)

The Monetary History of the World
© Martin A. Armstrong