By Aïcha Ben Abed
Between the second and the sixth centuries, as Rome expanded its settlements in North Africa, thousands of mosaics were fashioned to pave the floors of the townhomes and rural estates of the African upper classes, as well as some public buildings. Mosaics were especially abundant in the colony of Africa Proconsularis, the region that is today Tunisia. These remarkable artworks constitute one of the most important historical records of life in ancient North Africa. They covered a wide range of subject matter, from scenes of daily life to classical mythology, from gladiator spectacles and chariot races to floral and geometric designs of astonishing vibrancy and complexity. The influence of the African style, with its bright colors and flowing forms, would extend throughout the Mediterranean basin and beyond.
Tunisian Mosaics: Treasures from Roman Africa offers a lively introduction to this remarkable ancient art. Initial chapters survey the historical background of Roman Africa and provide an overview of African mosaic art. The book also profiles six important mosaic sites and tours the collections of the country's major museums. A final chapter surveys current initiatives to preserve this important heritage for future generations.
Aïcha Ben Abed, director of monuments and sites at the Institut National du Patrimoine, Tunisia, is one of the world's leading authorities on the mosaics of Roman Africa.
This book can be ordered online.