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

Richard Miles (Author); Simon Greenslade (Author)

ISBN: 9781785706806 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2019 | Language: English 440p, H280 x W220 (mm)

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The Bir Messaouda Basilica


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.

Table of Contents

Background and acknowledgments Richard Miles
1. Late Antique Carthage: archaeological and historical contexts Richard Miles
2. The early history of Bir Messaouda: Punic and Roman Simon Greenslade and Richard Miles
3. The transition of Bir Messaouda in the early to mid-6th century AD Simon Greenslade and Richard Miles
4. The transition of Bir Messaouda in the later 6th century AD Simon Greenslade and Richard Miles
5. The baptistery and crypt Simon Greenslade and Richard Miles
6. The later history of the basilica Simon Greenslade and Richard Miles
7. The 6th-century mosaics at Bir Messaouda Jane Chick
8. Plaster Claudia Goodbrand
9. The glass from the excavation at Bir Messaouda Sylvia Fünfschilling
10. The Bir Messaouda pottery Claudia Goodbrand
Appendix 1
11. The coins Stefan Krmnicek
12. Metal building materials, personal and utilitarian objects and other small metal finds Ralf Bockmann
13. Ceramic building material from the Bir Messaouda Excavations 2000–2002 Philip Mills
14. The stone finds Ben Croxford
Appendix 1: The marble typology
Appendix 2: Catalogue of illustrated finds
15. Conclusions Richard Miles
Appendix: The search for the Maritime Forum of Carthage John Whitehouse and Sami Harize

Reviews & Quotes

"…provides very thoughtful assessment of current approaches to the archaeology of 6th-century Christianity within North Africa."
Andy Merrills
Medieval Archaeology (04/08/2021)

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