Edited by Aïcha Ben Abed

conservation image

Between the second and the sixth centuries, as Rome expanded its settlements in North Africa, thousands of mosaics were fashioned to pave the floors of the townhomes and rural estates of the African upper classes, as well as some public buildings. Mosaics were especially abundant in the colony of Africa Proconsularis, the region that is today Tunisia. These remarkable artworks constitute one of the most important historical records of life in ancient North Africa. They covered a wide range of subject matter, from scenes of daily life to classical mythology, from gladiator spectacles and chariot races to floral and geometric designs of astonishing vibrancy and complexity. The influence of the African style, with its bright colors and flowing forms, would extend throughout the Mediterranean basin and beyond.

The publication of Stories in Stone: Conserving Mosaics of Roman Africa coincides with an exhibition at the Getty Villa from October 2006 to April 2007—the first major exhibition in the United States devoted solely to ancient mosaics. It features twenty-six masterpieces from Tunisia's national museums. Structured around four principal themes—nature, theater and spectacle, myths and gods, and technique—the exhibition also includes extensive material on the conservation of ancient mosaic art.

Aïcha Ben Abed, director of monuments and sites at the Institut National du Patrimoine, Tunisia, is one of the world's leading authorities on the mosaics of Roman Africa.

This book can be ordered online.