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UGA Excavation at Carthage

Excavation at Carthage

Scholars and researchers are invited to contact Naomi Norman here for information about the excavation and requests to view the artifacts and archival records.

History of the Excavation

Naomi J. Norman has directed two University of Georgia excavation projects in Carthage, Tunisia since 1982: the Roman circus and the Yasmina cemetery. Both of these projects are in the southwest quadrant of the Roman city and within close proximity to each other, with the circus just inside the city wall and the cemetery just outside of it. Moreover, the discovery of a very fine marble statue of a charioteer in the Yasmina cemetery demonstrates that the two sites are actually interconnected and in conversation with one another.

The circus excavation began in 1982 as a joint University of Michigan, University of Georgia, and University of Colorado (Boulder) project, with the University of Georgia later becoming the sole sponsor. The excavation concentrated on a section of the cavea and the racetrack near the starting gates of the circus with some limited excavation of a section of the spina. The excavation also extended behind the cavea where a number of horse skeletons were found that suggested the presence of a stable nearby. Almost no standing architecture of the circus cavea remained. Rather, the excavation uncovered a series of trenches marking the location of walls that had been dismantled to recover cut stones that were reused elsewhere. The excavation also found a number of lead curse tablets, one of which was folded in quarters like a sheet of paper and pinned to the racetrack with a bronze nail.

In 1992, Norman began the full-scale excavations of the large and extremely well-preserved Yasmina cemetery at Carthage, a cemetery which has the potential to help rewrite the artistic, social, political, and cultural history of Carthage in the high imperial period. The cemetery was in use for almost the entire history of Roman Carthage and attracted clients from the broadest possible social spectrum, to judge from the quantity and quality of sculpture (including the statue of the charioteer already mentioned and a female statue carved from the same block of marble), architecture, inscriptions, coins, pottery, skeletons, cremations, and small finds. This material illuminates the art and architecture, social history, demography, religion, and popular culture of Roman Carthage. The research plan of the excavation aimed not only to recover a wealth of information for individual specialties, but also to integrate and contextualize the material from the Yasmina cemetery with that published from other cemeteries and other sites in Carthage to reconstruct rituals of death and burial for the Roman city and to fit the cemetery into the larger urban fabric of Carthage.

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UGA Classics explores Greek and Roman culture (material; intellectual; religious) from Troy to Augustine; Classical languages and literatures (Greek, Latin, and in English translation); and the reception of Classical Antiquity with A.B. and M.A. Classics degrees with multiple areas of emphasis. Double Dawgs degrees focus on careers in Historic Preservation and World Language Education. Minor degrees in Classical Culture and Classics and Comparative Cultures complement degree programs across campus. New to Classics? Take a course with us on campus or in Europe and acquire future-ready skills.

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