Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Classical Studies


Dr. K.M.D. Dunbabin




The 'La Ghorfa' stelae from Roman Africa offer a unique opportunity to study the social and cultural identity of an unusual cult, one that combined aspects of the Punic, Roman, and indigenous cultures. The context and origins of the votive stelae were not recorded upon excavation, but stylistic and iconographic parallels suggest that they come from a part of central Africa Proconsularis known as the pagus Thuscae (Chapter IV), and that they date between the second half of the first century and the first part of the second century A.C. (Chapter V). The pagus Thuscae was a geographic contact point for various cultures in Antiquity, and the 'La Ghorfa' stelae demonstrate that these cultures each contributed to the language, artistry, and religion of the region's inhabitants. Punic, Roman, and indigenous elements appear in the sculptural and epigraphic zones of the stelae, including in the depictions and names of the dedicants (Chapters II and III). Unlike their Punic and Roman predecessors, the dedicants of these ex-votos did not place much significance upon inscriptions; only about one-quarter of the stelae are inscribed, as preserved. Some dedicants portray themselves in the guise of a togate Roman, although only in one instance does the nomenclature in the inscriptions clearly belong to a Roman citizen. In addition, the inscriptions do not name the god or gods to whom these stelae were dedicated, although the sculptural reliefs show a complex combination of gods. The dedicants and their cult come from a stratum of society not normally attested in the archaeological or written record.

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