REVIEWS AND ARCHEOLOGICAL GAZETIN
the XII International Conference of Studies "L'Africa Romana"
(12th-15th December 1996)
dello spazio rurale nelle province dell'Africa del Nord e in Sardegna"
was the theme of the XIIth International Conference of Studies of the
"Africa Romana", which recently took place in Olbia (SS). The
congress, promoted by the University of Sassari was held in co-operation
with the Association Internationale d'Epigraphie Grecque et Latin and
the Institut National du Patrimoine (Tunis). This conference offered the
chance to a great number of Italian and foreign symposiasts to present
their recent research.
For the postclassical period, the interventions tackled various historic
periods along with different geographic and cultural areas of the Mediterranean
basin. For North Africa, S:Gelichi (Pisa) and M.Milanese (Genova and Sassari)
with a contribution entitled "Problemi della transizione verso il
Medioevo nell'Ifriqya: primi dati dallo scavo di Uchi Maius", presented
much new material. The research was conducted in Uchi Maius by the University
of Sassari in collaboration with the Institut International du Patrimoine
(Tunis), but also with the active participation of the University of Pisa
and Genova. In Uchi Maius the object of the excavations was to excavate
the byzantine city and the zone where the forum was thought to be. In
the first case, evidence of islamic settlement was highlighted with the
unearthing of certain structures for which spolia was employed. The only
room excavated, revealed a floor, the threshold and a partition wall.
A XIth-XIIth dating has been suggested. Amongst the ceramics recovered,
fragments of decorated glazed "poisson"are were found.
The excavation performed in the area of the forum showed that the area
was restructured in late antiquity. Later occupation levels upto the Vth
century A.D. were revealed, with buildings being erected using spolia,
when the forum area had lost its public function. two lime furnaces were
recognized in a peripheral zone of the forum.
The concept of interprating the period not simply as just one of crisis
was underlined, whilst a more open view, i.e. one of change was put forward.
Infact the crisis of the maghrebin world occured later, that isto say
in the XIIIth century.
For North Africa, D.Artizzu (Roma) communicated the paper entitled "La
cristianizzazione degli spazi rurali in Proconsolare e Byzacena: proposte
per una strategia di studio". The speaker explained that the christian
archaeological evidence has reveled itself more numerous than was otherwise
thought, by new and more precise prospections. A sample area was chosen
near Byzacena. It was divided into three parts: the zone of Cap Bon, towards
to the sea, the inland zone to the south to Mactar, and then the western
area. Of the 206 dioceses taken into consideration, almost all of these
were rural. The highest number of dioceses was in the Western Zone, whilst
the lowest was in the zone of Cape Bon. The investigation indicated that
Christianity spread more slowly in those zones that were less agriculturaly
A theme analogous to the previous one, but according a view more historical
was presented by P.Spanu (Cagliari) and R.Zucca in a paper entitled "Le
diocesi rurali della Proconsularis e della Byzacena: aspetti storici ed
archeologici". Through an detailed analysis of the literary sources
it was deduced that Christianity did not flower in the rural areas as
well as it did in the urban. A document of the Cipriano's age reveals
that even before Constantine, christian rural areas did in fact exist.
In Africa Proconsularis, there were many urban centers, less in Byzacena.
The document shows the presence of bishops ordained in the saltus, villae
and fundi, but not in the city. This latter situation was however current
for the Proconsularis area.
Some rural dioceses were identified on the basis of their toponimies having
the suffix -ian. In the Proconsularis area this is absent, whereas in
the Byzacena area a substantial number are recored - Dionisianus and Victoriensis
are some examples. A group of these dioceses were led by donatists bishops,
others by catholic clergy. The archaeological research in rural contexts
has given the expected responses. It is sufficient to cite the episcopal
complex near Sufetula with its pertaining necropolis.
The paper given by M.Mayer Olivič, entitled "Los contactos entre
el norte de Africa y la costa del Conventus Tarraconensis", deals
with the relationships between Spain and North Africa in the late antiquity.
In the IVth-VIth centuries the african influence is remarkable, but after
the VIth century it begins to decrease. The example of Barquino is illuminatin:
its culture during IVth-VIth centuries is african - its pottery and sepulchral
mosaics show this clearly. Another site is equally significant, the city
of Tarraco, where a fifth century sarcophagus was brought to light: it
was produced in a Carthaginian workshop where many other similar exemples
have been found.
Concerning Sardinia, two papers highlighted interesting cases of urbain
continuity from the prehistoric age. In the conribution entitled "Cittā
e campagna in etā repubblicana: il caso di Tres Bias (Tinnura-Nuoro)"
the author M.Madau (Sassari) presented the later phases of the nuraghe
Tres Bias. Its re-use in the early medieval ages is suggested by finds
of stamped and combed ceramic, finds not unknown on other nuragic sites.
The other communication about Sardinia entitled "Archeologia del
territorio nell'ager Bosanus: ricognizioni di superficie nel territorio
di Magomadas"has was presented by M.Biagini (Genova). The archaeologist
exposed the results of a survey, underlining how the area under study
revealed interesting new information about its toponimies.
A case of settlement continuity from the Vth B.C. to VIth A.D.was presented
by the S.Nicola's nuraghe. They are situated near a small medieval church,
dedicated to S.Nicola. Another case of persistence has been observed near
the ruins of a villa rustica in the S.Maltine's area on the basis of occupation
levels going from the Roman period right up to the VIth century. Besides
the aforementioned structures the survey has identified the remains of
a medieval village. The research has shown that the choice of territory
for the settlement had been influenced by fertile zones near to water
sources. Concerning the settlements on higher ground, these were found
only for earlier historical periods.