Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Classical Studies


K.M.D. Dunbabin




This thesis analyses the Roman mosaic of Neptune and the Seasons from La Chebba in North Africa (Africa Proconsularis). The mosaic was excavated in 1902 in a seaside villa at La Chebba which is about 10 km. south of El Alia. The mosaic has received but brief mention in publications since the beginning of the century, in spite of its fascinating subject matter.

Chapter 1 gives a detailed description of the mosaic, which depicts in a central medallion, Neptune standing in a frontal chariot attended by two members of the marine thiasos. Four female Seasons appear in the corner diagonals of the pavement. They are flanked by seasonal animals and little scenes of seasonal activity. These seasonal vignettes and the combination of Neptune with Seasons are unique features of this mosaic.

Chapter 2 deals with the subject of the "triumph"; its modern art historical terminology, its symbolism, and the iconography of Neptune's "triumph". Some very interesting parallels appear.

In Chapter 3 the iconography of the Seasons in North African mosaics is discussed. Of particular significance is the frequent combination of the Seasonal theme with a divine personage. The uniqueness of the La Chebba mosaic is acknowledged again with the discovery that it is the only mosaic pavement that portrays the god Neptune in the company of the Seasons.

The discussion in Chapter 4 revolves around chronology, style, architectural location and the interpretation of the composition's motifs.

McMaster University Library

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