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Article

Judith McKenzie, Gordon Campbell, R. R. R. Smith, Wiktor A. Daszewski, A. H. Enklaar, Dominic Montserrat, C. Walters, Wladyslaw B. Kubiak, Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

Egyptian city situated on the Mediterranean coast west of the delta of the River Nile, capital of Egypt from c. 320 bc to ad 642, seaport and centre of ancient Greek culture.

Judith McKenzie

Alexandria was founded in 331 bc by Alexander, on the site of the small Egyptian settlement of Rhakotis. Its location, with access by canal to the River Nile, enabled it to become an important and highly prosperous trading centre, and by c. 320 bc Alexandria was the capital of Ptolemaic Egypt. During Ptolemaic times (304–30 bc) it became a major centre of learning, with famous scholars of literature, mathematics, astronomy, medicine and geography, and it played a major role in the transmission of Greek culture to the East.

With the defeat of the last Ptolemaic monarch, Cleopatra VII (51–30 bc), by Octavian (later called Augustus) at the Battle of Actium in 30...

Article

Dominic Montserrat

[Antinoë; now el-Sheikh Ibada]

Egyptian site 75 km north of Asyut. The town was officially founded by the Emperor Hadrian in October ad 130 to commemorate his favourite, Antinous, who had been drowned there. However, there was a Late Predynastic (c. 3000 bc) cemetery on the site and Ramesses II (reg c. 1279–c. 1213 bc) built a temple there using decorated blocks and columns from buildings at Tell el-Amarna. The Roman town was designed on a grid plan and boasted an amphitheatre and hippodrome, a temple to the deified Antinous and a colonnaded main street with a triumphal arch: the last, now destroyed, was still standing when Edmé Jomard (1777–1862) visited and drew the site in 1803. The necropolis of Antinoöpolis has yielded important Roman artefacts, particularly illustrated papyri, textiles (e.g. Lyon, Mus. Hist. Tissus, 28.927 and encaustic mummy portraits of distinctive shape and technique. The last were produced by a local school of artists and often embellished with gilded wreaths and stucco jewellery before being bound into the mummy wrappings (e.g. Detroit, MI, Inst. A., 25.2); their style and iconography blends Egyptian and Hellenistic elements. Brick tombs of the 6th century ...

Article

Kirk Ambrose

(b Moscow, May 7, 1903; d Paris, Jan 25, 1988).

Lithuanian art historian, scholar of folklore and Egyptology, and diplomat of Russian birth. Son of the celebrated Lithuanian Symbolist poet of the same name, Jurgis Baltrušaitis II studied under Henri(-Joseph) Focillon at the Sorbonne and earned the PhD in 1931. The concerns of his mentor are evident in La stylistique ornementale dans la sculpture romane (1931), which reprises and extends arguments for the ‘law of the frame’ in Romanesque sculpture. Accordingly, the shapes of architectural members, such as capitals and tympana, determined the articulation of sculptural forms. This theory could account for the genesis of a wide array of monumental carvings, from foliate capitals to narrative reliefs, but ultimately it had a rather limited impact on the field of Romanesque sculptural studies. In a scathing critique, Schapiro argued that Baltrušaitis’s book—and by implication Focillon’s methods—robbed Romanesque sculptors of agency and neglected the religious and expressive meanings of this art form....

Article

Simon P. Ellis

Ruined city on the North African coast at the end of a narrow peninsula pointing into the Bay of Tunis. Now an archaeological site at the edge of Tunis itself, Carthage was founded, according to legend, by the Phoenician queen Elyssa in 814 bc. It became a major Mediterranean power until its destruction by the Romans in 146 bc. Carthage flourished as a Roman city, Christianity reaching it by the 2nd century ad. The city was revived by Emperor Justinian, but it was finally destroyed by the Arabs in ad 698.

For later history see Tunis.

In the 6th and 5th centuries bc the city’s interventions in disputes between the Greek and Phoenician city states of Sicily made Carthage the leading western Phoenician colony, and it formed a close alliance with the Etruscans. From the 5th century bc the Carthaginians spread into the African hinterland, eventually controlling the area that is today the northern half of Tunisia. They also concluded three alliances with the newly emergent power of Rome. Further conflict in Sicily, however, precipitated (...

Article

T. W. Potter

[Phoen. Iol; Lat. Caesarea; Fr. Charachel]

Algerian seaport with a sheltered anchorage and a hinterland of fertile valleys, set amid high mountains. It was settled at least as early as 600 bc, probably by Carthaginians, who called it Iol. It rapidly grew into a prosperous trading post that had town defences by 200 bc. Its most illustrious ruler was Juba II of Mauretania (reg 25 bcad 23), who, educated in Rome and a friend of Augustus, sought to make his city as Greco-Roman in appearance as possible. Iol was renamed Caesarea, and, with the help of imported craftsmen, many public buildings of Roman type were built, including a theatre, an amphitheatre, a forum, a palace and huge town walls. Juba also acquired much fine Classical sculpture (Cherchel, Mus. Archéol.) and some ancient Egyptian objects.

In ad 40 Caesarea was made capital of the province of Mauretania Caesariensis, and under Claudius (reg ad 41–54) it was awarded colonial rank. Its continued prosperity is attested by the remains of a 45 km-long aqueduct, probably built in Hadrian’s reign (...

Article

Cyrene  

F. B. Sear and Susan Kane

[Arab. Shaḥḥāt]

City in Libya, 8 km from the coast and 620 m above sea-level on a plateau of the al-Jabal al-Akh?ar (Green Mountain). The Greek city flourished from its founding as a Dorian colony c. 630 bc to Hellenistic times, and its Greek culture was maintained during the long period of Roman rule, when its fortunes declined somewhat.

F. B. Sear

Cyrene’s principal monuments, restored by their Italian excavators, reveal the splendours of the Greek city. It changed only superficially in Roman times, when alterations to existing buildings were more common than new projects.

Herodotus (IV. cl–clviii) related how a party of Therans, forced by drought to leave their native island, settled at Cyrene because of its high rainfall. Their leader, Battos, became king and established a dynasty that lasted until 440 bc. The site is protected on three sides by gorges with gently sloping ground to the east. A low hill, the acropolis, rises to the west and immediately below its north slopes is the Sanctuary of Apollo. Springs emerge from the rock at this point, ensuring a constant water supply. The plateau is divided by the valley street, which runs from the east gate down to the Sanctuary of Apollo and then past the north necropolis to the port of Apollonia, 19 km away. Parallel to the valley street is the Street of Battos, which runs from the south-east gate through the agora to the acropolis. A main transverse street intersected both streets just east of the Hellenistic gymnasium. The earliest settlers presumably occupied the acropolis, and the eastern fringe of the later agora seems to have been used as a burial ground, which suggests that the early town could not have extended far to the east. Other evidence for the early city is pottery from ...

Article

Djemila  

T. W. Potter

[anc. Cuicul.]

Roman town in Algeria, founded c. ad 97 as a colony for army veterans. It was given a local, non-Roman name (Cuicul), but its modern name Djemila (Arab.: ‘beautiful’) is a fitting description for one of the most picturesque sites in North Africa. It lies 60 km from the Mediterranean Sea in rugged, mountainous but fertile countryside, its well-defended position enhanced by the construction of defences enclosing an area of some 200×400 m. The uneven topography necessitated a polygonal arrangement of walls, but within them the streets were laid out in orderly, parallel lines. Systematic excavation since 1909 has revealed many of the internal squares and buildings.

The gate into the colony is still standing; from here the cardo maximus leads to the forum, a great square with elegant porticos on two sides. Here also was the capitolium, the curia, the judicial basilica and a macellum (market building). The basilica (built after ...

Article

Dougga  

M’Hamed Fantar

[anc. Thugga.]

Site of one of the best-preserved Roman towns in Africa, built on a plateau overlooking the valley of Oued Khalled in north-western Tunisia. A fine collection of archaeological material has been found there. Dougga dates back to the earliest phase of Libyan antiquity and certainly belonged to the kingdom of Numidia long before the reign of Masinissa (d 148 bc); writing on the invasion of Agathalus at the end of the 4th century bc, Diodorus Siculus mentioned the king Ailymas, whose domain included the territory of ‘Tebagga’. During the Second Punic War between Rome and Carthage (218–201 bc), Dougga was under the Carthaginians, but it was won back by Masinissa and retained by his successors until the death of Juba I in 46 bc. Of the Numidian town there remain the megalithic wall (4th century bc), the dolmens and the Mausoleum of Atban, one of the finest Libyo-Punic ...

Article

Barry Bergdoll

(b Cologne, June 15, 1790; d Paris, Dec 31, 1853).

French architect, writer and archaeologist of German birth. In 1810 he left Cologne with his lifelong friend J. I. Hittorff for Paris, enrolling at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1811 under the tutelage of the ardent Neo-classicists Louis-Hippolyte Lebas and François Debret. But from the beginning Gau was exposed to a wider field of historical sources, first as assistant site architect under Debret on the restoration of the abbey church of Saint-Denis (1813–15) and then from 1815 in Nazarene circles in Rome, where he met the archaeologist and philologist Barthold Nieburh (1776–1831), who arranged a scholarship for him from the Prussian government and a trip through the eastern Mediterranean. In Egypt Gau undertook an arduous trip down the Nile to visit and record the monuments of Nubia, which he published as the lavish folio Antiquités de la Nubie. He noted assiduously every trace of colour on the remains, just as he was to do in ...

Article

Ghirza  

R. J. A. Wilson

Site of Romanized Berber settlement on the banks of the Wadi Ghirza, 240 km south-east of Tripoli, Libya. The site consists of 38 buildings from the 4th and 5th centuries ad, some still preserved up to a height of 7 m. Half a dozen of them are in the form of impressive castle-like structures, two or three storeys high, with interior courts; this type of farm building, once thought to have had a quasi-military role, is typical of the Tripolitanian pre-desert area from the second half of the 2nd century ad onwards. Smaller houses are either single-roomed or have two or three rooms set end to end. One building is a Semitic-type temple probably dedicated to Baal, with an open court and rooms ranged around it. Cisterns, two wells and rubbish middens have also been identified, the last showing that barley, figs and many other crops were present. The settlement seems to have been occupied until the early 6th century ...

Article

T. W. Potter

[now Annaba, Arab. al-‛Annāba; formerly Bône]

Site in Algeria that flourished from c. 200 bc to ad 430. It lies close to the Mediterranean coast on flat ground, nearly at sea-level, between two low hills. The town once possessed an excellent harbour as well as a fertile hinterland. It probably began as a Phoenician settlement, but the site has yielded few finds earlier than c. 200 bc and virtually no structures earlier than a great sea-wall of c. 40 bc. Hippo was a Numidian royal centre before being annexed by Rome in 46 bc. It developed in an unplanned way; having received municipal status under Augustus (reg 27 bcad 14), it was promoted to colonial status only in the 2nd century ad. However, extensive white marble quarries lay within its territory at Djebel Filfila, near Skikda, 80km to the west. These were almost certainly developed under Juba II, ruler at Iol Caesarea, 25 bc...

Article

A. J. Mills

Egyptian oasis c. 600 km south of Cairo and c. 200 km west of the Nile. Throughout history, Kharga was closely connected with the civilization of the Nile Valley as an important stage in the great overland trade route known as the Darb el-Arbain (‘Forty Days’ Road’) between Egypt and the Sudan. Ancient texts praise the oasis products. The oasis is narrow but measures c. 160 km from north to south; it is dotted with monuments in varying states of preservation. The earliest of these is the Temple of Amun at Hibis (see fig. and Egypt, ancient, §VIII, 2, (i), (a)), which was begun on earlier foundations in the 26th Dynasty (664–525 bc), completed during the reign of Darius I (reg 521–486 bc) and enlarged in later periods. The temple is a well-preserved example of the Saite Renaissance style, while its sandstone walls are decorated with finely cut Persian period reliefs. A series of mud-brick fortified settlements of the Roman period (...

Article

T. W. Potter

[Fr. Lambèse; now Tazoult Lambèse]

Roman site in Algeria, 11 km from the town of Batna on the northern flanks of the Aures Mountains, with remains of one of the more extensively excavated legionary fortresses in the Roman Empire and its associated civilian town. The earliest military base (ad 81) comprised a small fort (148×120 m) with stone defences, nearly 2 km from the site of the later legionary fortress, beneath what became part of the civilian town. Brick stamps indicate that it was built by the Third Augustan legion; traces remain of the barracks and administrative buildings, but the size of the fort implies that only a detachment of the 5000-strong legion can have been stationed there. Little remains also of the second fort, which lies to the north-east of the main site, and is also fairly small (200 sq. m). An inscription on a column at the centre of the fort recording a speech made to the Third Augustan legion by Hadrian in ...

Article

R. J. A. Wilson

Source of a group of late 2nd-century bc Greek works of art. In 1907 an ancient shipwreck was located by sponge-divers in the waters off Mahdia on the east coast of Tunisia. The subsequent careful exploration of the ship and the lifting of its extensive cargo, carried out between 1908 and 1913, was the first operation of its kind in the Mediterranean. The principal cargo consisted of 60 marble columns, together with Ionic and Corinthian capitals, but also on board was a whole range of sculpture in both bronze and marble. The bronzes include an archaistic herm, a Dancing Eros, three grotesque dancing dwarfs (with suspension rings attached), statuettes of Eros with a Lyre, satyrs, Hermes and actors, two lamp holders in the form of an Eros and a Hermaphrodite, and various assorted appliqués, vessels, candelabra (for illustration see Candelabrum), lamps and couch attachments. The marbles, some badly corroded, include heads or busts of ...

Article

Thorsten Opper

Often highly individualistic portraits painted on wood or canvas that were positioned over the head of a mummy. They came into use in Egypt during the Roman Imperial period and partly replaced the more traditional, idealized masks. Some 900 to 1000 examples are currently known; particularly significant collections are in the British Museum and Petrie Museum in London, the Louvre in Paris, the Staatliche Museen in Berlin and the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Mummy portraits were found throughout Egypt from the delta to Nubia, but were concentrated in a few cemeteries in the Nile valley, such as Akhmim and Antinoöpolis, and particularly in the Faiyum (er-Rubayat and Hawara), so that they are sometimes also known as ‘Faiyum-portraits’.

The portraits were sometimes painted using very elaborate encaustic techniques, involving layers of coloured, heated wax that produced vivid chromatic tones, but cheaper versions in tempera on white backgrounds and even watercolour also occur. The insufficient state of publication of many portraits has generally not been conducive to studies into workshop connections or the isolation of individual painters; more detailed research on these aspects exists only for examples from Antinoöpolis....

Article

Dominic Montserrat

[anc. Egyp. Per-Medjed; Copt. Pemdje; now el-Bahnasa]

Site on the Bahr Yusuf, 50 km north of el-Minya in Egypt. Little is known of the town in the Dynastic period (c. 2925–332 bc), when it was the capital of the 19th Upper Egyptian nome and played an important role in the mythology of Osiris. Its main importance is as a source of Roman-period (30 bcad 395) papyri, which were preserved by the dry climate, encaustic mummy portraits and Early Christian funerary sculpture.

The rubbish heaps of Oxyrhynchus were first excavated by Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt in 1896, and they have since yielded over 10,000 papyri, the largest number from a single site. They provide unique examples of Roman book illustrations, including circus scenes and stories from mythology, as well as more ephemeral works such as preliminary sketches in wash for wall paintings and coloured designs for textiles (all now Oxford, Ashmolean). Papyrus rolls with fine manuscripts of literary texts attest the art of the calligrapher in Roman Egypt; some luxury books found at the site may have been produced in ...

Article

F. B. Sear

[Arab. Tolmeita; Tolmeta; Tulmaythah]

Hellenistic and Roman city in Cyrenaica, Libya, the only natural harbour between Eusperides-Berenice (now Benghazi) and Apollonia (now Susa). It was probably founded in the reign of Ptolemy III Euergetes (246–221 bc), although the site had been used as the port of nearby Barca since the 6th century bc. Ptolemais came under Roman control in 96 bc and under Diocletian (reg ad 284–305) became the capital of Libya Pentapolis. Its buildings extend the whole width of a fertile, 2 km-wide coastal plain, bounded to the south by the foothills of the Jabal al-Akhdar (the Green Mountain).

There are traces of the Hellenistic grid plan with at least five transverse streets (decumani) intersected by two main longitudinal ones (cardines), enclosing blocks measuring 180×36 m. Most of the major streets are 8.8 m wide, but the principal thoroughfare, the Street of the Monuments, is 14.8 m wide including the colonnades either side. The city walls, as is so often the case, are unrelated to the street-plan. They are punctuated by square towers and extend from the sea to the Jabal, where they enclose a commanding triangle of high ground. There were probably seven gates in the circuit, of which the best preserved is the Taucheira gate, flanked by two massive square towers with finely drafted masonry....

Article

Quseir  

[Quṣayr al-Qadīm; al-Quṣayr al-Qadīm; Quseir al-Qadim; el-Kusair el-Kadim; Qusayr; Kuseir]

Port on the Egyptian coast of the Red Sea east of Luxor. Located at the mouth of the Wadi Hammamat, the shortest overland route between the Nile Valley and the Red Sea, the port was known in the 1st and 2nd centuries ad as Leukos Limen and in the 13th and 14th centuries as Qusayr. Despite its proximity to the Nile, the port was never as important as Berenice or ‛Aydhab, probably because it was difficult for ships to sail there against the prevailing north wind. Excavations begun in 1978 have revealed the remains of a Roman port, an industrial area, a Roman villa, houses from the Islamic period, glass, ceramics and a wealth of organic remains due to the dryness of the climate.

Enc. Islam/2: ‘Ḳuṣayr’ D. S. Whitcomb and J. H. Johnson: Quseir al-Qadim 1980, Preliminary Report (Malibu, CA, 1982) G. Vogelsang-Eastwood: Resist Dyed Textiles from Quseir al-Qadim, Egypt...

Article

F. B. Sear

Roman town on the coast of Libya, 64 km west of Tripoli, originally established as a Phoenician trading post. The most conspicuous surviving monument from this period is a 2nd-century bc tower tomb. In the Augustan period (27 bcad 14) a rectangular forum was laid out, which in the course of a century acquired a curia, basilica and several frontally planned temples. To the prosperous Antonine period (ad 138–93) belong the paving of the forum, the porticos of Corinthian columns with granite shafts and the extensive marbling of most of the temples, except that of Liber Pater, which dominates the east side. At the same time a new quarter of the town was laid out further to the east, dominated by the late 2nd-century ad Severan theatre (w. 92.6 m). As well as being the best preserved Roman theatre in North Africa, it is the most sophisticated in plan. It is chiefly remarkable for its three-tier ...

Article

Eve D’Ambra

[Silene]

Roman villa in Libya. The élite of the great city of Leptis Magna built villas along the Tripolitanian coast, and the Villa Sileen, near the village of Khums(Qums) is an excellent example of this type of domestic architecture in North Africa. Discovered in 1974, the villa was inhabited in the 2nd century ...