Bringing Carthage Home: The Excavations of Nathan Davis, 1856-1859Hardback University of British Columbia Studies in the Ancient World
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- Publisher: Oxbow Books
- Format: Hardback | 264 pages
- Dimensions: 218mm x 282mm x 24mm | 1,320g
- Publication date: 9 November 2011
- Publication City/Country: Oxford
- ISBN 10: 1842179926
- ISBN 13: 9781842179925
- Edition statement: New.
- Illustrations note: 137 b/w & 9 colour illus
- Sales rank: 1,508,895
Adorning the north-west staircase in the British Museum is a group of brightly coloured figured mosaic pavements. Most were excavated for the Museum between 1856 and 1859 at Carthage, in what is now Tunisia, by a dilettante called Nathan Davis; the work was funded by the Foreign Office of the British Government. This book recounts for the first time the extraordinary story behind this pioneering enterprise and the political and cultural rivalry between representatives of the colonial powers as they asserted their rights to explore the buried remains of one of the ancient world's greatest cities. The account is based on unpublished documentary material as well as what can be gleaned from published sources, including Davis's own discursive and chaotic account of his work, Carthage and her Remains (1861) - a book published exactly 150 years ago this year. Bringing Carthage Home places Davis's discoveries both in their wider archaeological context and in their topographical setting, locating for the first time on the ground the places where Davis sunk his trenches. The result is an important and original contribution to our knowledge of the history of archaeology, the topography of Carthage, the study of North African mosaics and the story of social and political intrigue in mid-nineteenth-century Tunisia.
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What emerges from the book is a portrait of Davis as an energetic and resourceful adventurer struggling to establish his reputation as an archaeologist in a climate of unremitting hostility from the French colonial establishment who regarded Carthage as their own exclusive sphere of influence. In the end, Davis career as an archaeologist was short-lived.His funding lasted only four years during which time his prolific activity in the field was never matched by a corresponding scholarly rigour, a failing which left him vulnerable to criticism by other professional archaeologists. While it may be easy to dismissDavis archaeological activity at Carthage as mere treasure hunting, this new reappraisal of his excavations and discoveries does much to restore his reputation as a worthy pioneer of North African archaeology. It is essential reading for anyone interested in the early exploration of ancient Carthage.'--Jeremy Rossiter "Antiquity, volume 86, issue 332 ""