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L'Afrique Vandale et Byzantine: 1re Partie (review)

From: Parergon
Volume 21, Number 1, January 2004
pp. 155-157 | 10.1353/pgn.2004.0070

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Mad for Shakespeare: a Reconsideration of the Importance of Bedlam 155 Parergon 21.1 (2004) Reviews L’Afrique Vandale et Byzantine: 1re Partie (Revue Internationale d’Histoire et d’Archéologie (IVe – VIIIe s.)), Paris, Association pour l’Antiquité Tardive, 2002; paperback; pp. 506; 200 b&w illustrations; RRP EUR25.00, US$25; ISBN 2503512755. This significant contribution to ongoing research on North Africa, during the period of about 200–500, holds 28 reports on archaeological and historical discoveries. Each contribution has a lengthy summary before it, those in French, German, Italian or Spanish prefixed with English, and the English with French. For monoglot scholars this is a considerable advantage. The work is based on a conference held in Tunis in October 2000, and at a Round Table discussion (see p. 23) held during the 20th International Conference on Byzantine Studies in Paris, on the 20th August, 2001. The reports on these events are of interest, and cover pages 21-60. The rest is divided into Vandals (61-142) and the Byzantine Epoch (143-461), ending with a ‘Bulletin Critique’ (469-94). On pp 24-5, there is a useful bibliography, with a list of about 65 recent works on North Africa. But for original texts there’s a real shortage, with just Corripus, Cyprianus and Procopius. I hope to add a ‘chronicon’ by Victor, Bishop of Tonnena, covering the years 440-566, once I have translated its Latin text. Rather than give a synopsis of every contribution, I shall look at a few representative ones, starting with Yves Modéran’s important article on ‘L’établissement territorial des Vandales en Afrique,’ on pp. 87-122. He restates the arguments for the Vandals having independent kingships in Africa, while scattered in the countryside and confiscating Roman properties, which were recovered after 534 by Justinian. In doing so, Modéran successfully counters the theories of W. Goffart and J. Durliat. In his ‘Quelques reflexions sur l’interprétation ethnique des sépultures habillées considérées comme vandals’ (pp. 123-130), Jörg Kleemann examines the Vandals’ graves in North Africa and finds upper class occupants, from the centre of Vandalic power, buried in the mid fifth century. They also show strikingly Roman funeral habits. For Byzantine Africa, Constantin Zuckerman’s article ‘La haute hiérarchie militaire en Afrique Byzantine’ (pp.169-176), presents an argument for further 156 Reviews Parergon 21.1 (2004) debate on the Byzantine command. He quotes Pope Gregory’s letter (Ep 1.74) to Gaudiosus, clearly an aristocrat (from his title Gloria) and able to advise judges, but as he argues, not a magister militum. Unlike Gennadius, who in Ep 1.59 (July 591) is called by Pope Gregory a ‘patrician and exarch of Africa’, the first use of the official title. Possibly Gaudiosus had earlier filled a similar role. The updating report from Fathi Béjaoui on ‘État des découvertes d’époque chrétienne des dix dernières années en Tunisie’ (pp. 197-212), certainly deserves a mention. Pope Gregory wrote about 40 letters to correspondents in North Africa, mostly bishops, and any work revealing their churches is welcome. Béjaoui provides 20 entries with 40 photos, adding greatly to the lists of rural churches and mosaics that have been unearthed. A useful map on p. 199 helps with the new names, but it is a pity colour could not be used for the mosaic (fig. 10) and ornate baptistery (fig. 15). As director of archaeological research in Tunis, Béjaoui shows how much work he has done since reporting in 1986. Denys Pringle adds ‘Two Fortified Sites in Byzantine Africa: Aîn Djelloula [535-544] and Henchir Sguidan [574-578]’ (pp. 269-290). For the first site, Cululis Theodoriana, on pp. 274-5, I suggest that the remarkable poem inscribed on the stone above the gateway ended: flebant et fata iacentes (‘crushed, they bewailed their fate’). The scribe’s C is flatter than his G, the first two letters are clearly FA and the phrase has Epic overtones. Also Iustiniani was poetic licence – in a hexameter the in had to be scanned short. This is not to imply that Pringle’s article is...