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Roman North Africa

Description: Late Roman/Byzantine red slip-ware pottery lamp - with a central dotted Chi-Rho monogram on the sunken medallion, set of concentric circles below, surrounded by groups of concentic circles & stylised flower patterns. Two lightly impressed circles on underside.
Period: Circa 600 A.D.
Size: Length 14.6cm, Bowl 8.2cm Dia
Comment: The "Chi-Rho" design is Christian, being the first two letters of Christ in Greek.

North Africa in the 5th century

Towards the end of the 4th century AD, the Roman Empire was no longer able to defend all its territory in North Africa against native tribes. In Mauretania Tingitana (Morocco) and Africa Proconsularis (Libya), the Roman frontier fell back towards the coast. However, many of the great Roman estates continued to produce grain and olive oil, and the coastal towns, with Carthage at their head, remained important centres of Christianity.

In 429 the Vandals, a barbarian tribe from central Europe, reached Morocco in coalition with the Alans. They captured Carthage in 439, ending Roman rule in North Africa. Native tribes established their own areas of influence beyond the cities. When the Western Roman Empire collapsed in 476, all North Africa was under either Vandal or Berber control.

Vandal rule in Africa was never secure like the Romans, they never completely subdued the Berbers and they made enemies of the Romano-Christian elite. In the 6th century Justinian, emperor of the Eastern Roman, or Byzantine, Empire (reigned 527-565), took advantage of conflicts between Vandals and Berbers to reassert imperial control in the region. His general Belisarius defeated the Vandal kingdom in 533. When Justinian died, almost the whole North African coastline was under Byzantine control, a situation which lasted for a century.

reproduced from

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