The Bir Messaouda Basilica: Pilgrimage and the Transformation of an Urban Landscape in Sixth Century AD Carthage [Hardback]

Richard Miles(Author); Simon Greenslade(Author)

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ISBN: 9781785706806 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2019 | Language: English 368p, H11 x W8.5,
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The Bir Messaouda Basilica

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This volume charts the radical transformation of an inner city neighbourhood in late antique Carthage which was excavated over a five-year period by a team from the University of Cambridge. Bordering the main thoroughfare leading from the Brysa Hill to the ports, the neighbourhood remained primarily a residential one from the second century until 530s AD when a substantial basilica was constructed over the eastern half of the insula. Further extensive modifications were made to the basilica half-a-century later when the structures on the western half of the insula were demolished and the basilica greatly enlarged with the addition of a new east-west aisles, a large monumental baptistery and a crypt. By carefully reconstructing the complex architectural plan of this innovative building, this study shows how the re-modelled Bir Messaouda basilica was transformed into a major pilgrimage centre overturning established tradition that located such complexes outside the city walls. The Bir Messaouda basilica provides important insights into the transition between Vandal and Byzantine control of the city, the development of a new Christian inter-mural urban landscape in the sixth century AD, and the significance of the pilgrimage in reinforcing ecclesiastical authority in post-Justinianic North Africa.

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