Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
The period of Late Antiquity was a time of substantial and fundamental change in cities throughout the Roman Empire, and North Africa presents plentiful (if often frustratingly enigmatic) evidence of this. By the 3rd century AD most if not all cities of any respectable size had a full complement of the monumental buildings which defined the standard Roman city, in particular a forum with its surrounding religious, administrative, business, and entertainment buildings. By the middle of the 5th century however it seems that many of these traditional urban centres had been abandoned, and that a new form of monumental architecture had appeared on the scene: the Christian church. The coincidence of these two events, the abandonment of the traditional forum complex and the rise of monumental Christian worship buildings, has caused some scholars to speculate on a link between them, and has even prompted some to propose that the churches replaced the fora as centres of urban life. This theory, however, rests on a number of questions which have not yet been fully answered. First, can the archaeological and epigraphic evidence support the assertion that churches were built at the same time as fora were abandoned? Second, did church buildings usurp any of the functions fulfilled by the fora, and in so doing replace them as urban foci? This thesis, by investigating both of these questions, shows that while the construction of churches and the decline of fora may indeed be related, that relationship is far more complex than one of simple replacement of function.
Beckmann, Martin, "Urban Change in Late Antique North Africa: The Role of Church Buildings" (1998). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 6057.
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