Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Classical Studies


K. M. D. Dunbabin




From the first to the fifth centuries A.D., the inhabitants of many Roman North African towns went to a macellum to buy food for their dinner banquets. The typical macellum plan consists of an enclosed structure with a peristyle court lined with shops. The archaeological evidence suggests that the Roman North African macella were often bold and innovative variations from the Italian macella.

Since many of the Roman North African macella were excavated in the early 1900s, there have been relatively few recent publications and excavations undertaken on these significant buildings. One exception is C. De Ruyt's book, Macellum. Marché alimentaire des Romains (1983). De Ruyt, catalogued the remains of eighty-three macella found in Sicily, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Hungary, England, Spain and North Africa. Additionally, De Ruyt's book includes a detailed study of the origins of the macellum type, information about the market's urban and historical context, and evidence for the varieties of foods sold.

This thesis, using De Ruyt's book as the starting point for research on the macellum, focuses specifically on the Roman North African macella, since there are still problems to be resolved concerning these buildings. For example, was there a macellum which was essentially Roman North African in design? Did the market-type in North Africa simply imitate the plans of earlier Italian macella? What does the placement of the macellum within an urban setting tell us about its importance and function? What was the role of patrons in the construction and restoration of these markets?

The thesis on Roman North African macella is divided into four chapters: Chronology, Typology, Urban placement and Patronage (euergetism). Archaeological and epigraphical evidence is included for Roman North African macella not listed in De Ruyt's catalogue.

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