N. Mugnai, 2018, 412 p.
Mediterranean Archaeology Studies
This book offers a new contribution to the study of Roman provincial architectural decoration, focusing on Mauretania Tingitana (northern Morocco). The architectural elements are analysed together with the buildings and contexts where they were employed. In addition to the reconstruction of local decorative styles, architecture, history and urban trajectories, the investigation is further extended to a broader extra-provincial level with particular attention to North Africa and the Mediterranean. The selected time frame spans from the late Mauretanian period (c. mid-first century BC) to the main phase of Roman provincial era (first to third century AD), also providing a glimpse into Late Antiquity (fourth to sixth centuries AD).
The discussion is based on the results of field research carried out at four archaeological sites in Morocco from 2011 to 2014: Volubilis (Ksar Pharaoun); Banasa (Sidi Ali bou Djenoun); Sala (Chellah, Rabat); and Lixus (Tchemmich, Larache). The fieldwork involved the recording of the elements of architectural decoration preserved at those sites, the vast majority of which are unpublished. The collected data were used to build up the typological classification presented in the catalogue in the second part of the book. The study also includes observations on the materials in the archaeological museums at Rabat, Tangier, and Tétouan, as well as those from other important sites of the province, in particular Thamusida and Zilil.
The analysis shows how different artistic and architectural traditions were merged together in Tingitana during the Roman period: the persistence of pre-Roman (Punic and Hellenistic) substrata; the influence of Roman official art and architectural decoration; and the creation of local-style ornament. This mixture of styles is also reflected in the design of buildings and public spaces in each town under examination, suggesting the presence of equally mixed urban communities. This research has revealed the artistic and architectural vitality of this territory at the south-west edge of the Roman world, while also illustrating a significant degree of adaptation of orthodox rules of Roman architecture.
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