The Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives is excited to announce the opening our newest exhibit: From Clearing to Cataloging: The Corpus of Tunisian Mosaics, which highlights the Margaret Alexander Collection at Dumbarton Oaks.
The collection contains documents and photographs that relate to the fieldwork and publication associated with the Corpus des Mosaïques de Tunisie (CMT), or Corpus of Tunisian Mosaics. The CMT was launched in 1967 to create a catalog of Roman and Late Antique mosaics in Tunisia and was co-directed by Margaret Alexander until 1994. The project was administered through the Foreign Currency Program of the Smithsonian Institution and was sponsored by various institutions, such as Dumbarton Oaks and the University of Iowa. The CMT team focused on clearing, preserving, and cataloging pavement mosaics found in private residences and Christian basilicas. To securely date the mosaics, they relied on dateable evidence buried in or near the mosaics, including coins and pottery fragments. The CMT team members carried out the archaeological work at four major sites in Tunisia – Utica, Thuburbo Majus, El Jem, and Carthage – before publishing a four-volume catalog of over 1,000 mosaics dating from the first to fifth centuries CE.
The exhibit includes selections from the Margaret Alexander Collection in ICFA. These archival items date from the 1960s to 1990s and demonstrate the process of the fieldwork and publication of the CMT project. The exhibit was developed to coincide with the Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Studies symposium in April 2012, Rome Re-Imagined: Byzantine and Early Islamic Africa, c. 500 – 800, and highlights related materials in ICFA’s holdings.
Come check it out at the Museum! And congratulations to the project team, Robin Pokorski, Rona Razon, Hillary Olcott, and Christopher Harrison!