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Carthage, Tunisia

March–May 1925

Director: Francis W. Kelsey

In 1925, Francis W. Kelsey conducted an investigation of the site of Carthage, the ancient city-state founded by the Phoenicians in the middle of the 9th century BCE and destroyed by Rome in 146 BCE in the last Punic War. The Washington Archaeological Society had asked Professor Kelsey and his staff to investigate working conditions and to determine whether to invest large sums of money for a complete excavation.

The archaeological stratification on the site of Carthage covered periods from the 8th century BCE through the 7th century CE. In one plot free of modern buildings and known to have been associated with the cult of the Punic Goddess Tanit, three distinct archaeological levels were discovered. While the staff found no ruins of an actual temple or shrine, they did unearth cinerary urns and dedicatory stelae set in the earth like tombstones in a cemetery. The lowest level they dated to the 8th or 7th century BCE and the highest, judging from fragments of pottery and Hellenistic lamps found in filling materials, to the period just preceding the Roman conquest. A preliminary examination of the contents of the urns revealed charred bones of young children, lambs, goats, and small birds. Rings, bracelets, earrings, beads, amulets, and objects of gold, silver, bronze, and iron were found with the bones in certain urns at the lowest level. The excavation at Carthage was discontinued because of lack of substantial evidence that buildings would be found in accessible areas.

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Books and Articles

Bruehl, Eric. “To the Lady Tanit, Face of Ba’al, and to Our Lord Ba’al Hammon: The Kelsey Squeezes from the 1925 Excavation in the Sanctuary of Tanit at Carthage.” Bulletin of the University of Michigan Museums of Art and Archaeology 12 (1997): 42–69. http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.0054307.0012.001:03.

Dunbabin, Katherine M. D. “Mosaics of the Byzantine Period in Carthage: Problems and Directions of Research.” Cahiers des études anciennes 17 (1985): 9–30.

Ellis, S. “Carthage in the Seventh Century: An Expanding Population?” Cahiers des études anciennes 17 (1985): 31–42.

Ennabli, Abdelmajid. Pour sauver Carthage: exploration et conservation de la cité punique, romaine et byzantine. Paris and Tunis: UNESCO and Institut national d’archéologie et d’art, 1992.

Ennabli, Liliane. “Results of the International Save Carthage Campaign: The Christian Monuments.” World Archaeology 18, no. 3 (1987): 291–311. https://www.jstor.org/stable/124587.

Garrison, Mark B. “A Late Roman/Early Byzantine Cemetery at Carthage: The University of Michigan Excavations at Carthage.” Archaeological News 15 (1990): 23–29.

Gazda, Elaine K., and John H. Humphrey. “Carthage Then and Now.” Ann Arbor: Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, 1979.

Harden, D. B. “Punic Urns from the Precinct of Tanit at Carthage.” American Journal of Archaeology 31, no. 3 (1927): 297–310. https://doi.org/10.2307/497821.

Humphrey, John H. Excavations at Carthage 1975, Conducted by the University of Michigan, Vol. I. Kelsey Museum Fieldwork. Tunis: Cérès Productions, 1976.

———. Excavations at Carthage 1975, Conducted by the University of Michigan, Vol. II. Kelsey Museum Fieldwork. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Kelsey Museum, University of Michigan, 1978.

———. Excavations at Carthage 1976, Conducted by the University of Michigan, Vol. III. Kelsey Museum Fieldwork. Ann Arbor: Kelsey Museum, University of Michigan, 1977.

———. Excavations at Carthage 1976, Conducted by the University of Michigan, Vol. IV. Kelsey Museum Fieldwork. Ann Arbor: Kelsey Museum, University of Michigan, 1978.

———. Excavations at Carthage 1977, Conducted by the University of Michigan, Vol. V. Kelsey Museum Fieldwork. New Delhi: Thomsons Press, 1980.

———. Excavations at Carthage 1977, Conducted by the University of Michigan, Vol. VI. Kelsey Museum Fieldwork. Ann Arbor: Kelsey Museum, University of Michigan, 1981.

———. Excavations at Carthage 1978, Conducted by the University of Michigan, Vol. VII. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, 1982.

———. “Le Musée Paléochrétien de Dermech.” Cahiers des études anciennes 17 (1985): 127–39.

———. “North African News Letter 1.” American Journal of Archaeology 82, no. 4 (1978): 511–20. https://doi.org/10.2307/504639.

———. The Circus and a Byzantine Cemetery at Carthage, Vol. I. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1988.

Humphrey, John H., and John Griffiths Pedley. “Roman Carthage.” Scientific American 238, no. 1 (1978): 110–21. https://www.jstor.org/stable/24955619.

Hurst, Henry, and Lawrence E. Stager. “A Metropolitan Landscape: The Late Punic Port of Carthage.” World Archaeology 9, no. 3 (1978): 334–46. https://www.jstor.org/stable/124290.

Kelsey, Francis W. Excavations at Carthage, 1925: A Preliminary Report. Supplement to the American Journal of Archaeology. New York and London: Macmillan, 1926.

Norman, Naomi J. “American Excavations in the Roman Circus at Carthage.” Cahiers des études anciennes 18 (1986): 81–100.

Pedley, John Griffiths, ed. New Light on Ancient Carthage: Papers of a Symposium. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1980.

Stager, Lawrence E. “Carthage 1977 The Punic and Roman Harbors.” Archaeology 30, no. 3 (1977): 198–200. https://www.jstor.org/stable/41706158.

———. “Excavations at Carthage 1975, the Punic Project: First Interim Report.” The Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research 43 (1976): 151–90. https://doi.org/10.2307/3768532.

Stevens, Susan T. “A Late-Roman Urban Population in a Cemetery of Vandalic Date at Carthage.” Journal of Roman Archaeology 8 (1995): 263–70. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1047759400016068.

Stevens, Susan T., and Margaret A. Alexander. Bir El Knissia et Carthage: A Rediscovered Cemetery Church. Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplementary Series 7. Ann Arbor: Kelsey Museum of the University of Michigan, 1993.