Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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from the trenches
Books: The Stories in Stone Volume 60 Number 1, January/February 2007
The Stories in Stone

After the Romans burned Carthage and sowed the ground with salt, North Africa became one of their wealthiest provinces. From the second to fifth centuries A.D. dozens of the richest citizens built villas decorated with elaborate mosaic floors depicting athletic contests, mythological stories, and the plants and animals that were the source of the area's economic bounty. While mosaic floors were considered a lesser art form, the designs provide a window into the tastes and values of North Africa's upper crust. Now, art that was once okay to walk upon has been enshrined in the galleries at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles through April 30.

The Stories in Stone exhibit and accompanying book ($75) is the culmination of a 15-year partnership between Getty curators and Tunisian scholars to stabilize and preserve these endangered works of art.

© 2007 by the Archaeological Institute of America