This project intends to offer a critical overview of the studies published so far and chronological results on dealing with marble extraction, export, distribution and the influence of these industrial circumstances on the city and their environment.


By consideration of the current results of the excavations run by the German Archaelogical Institute and the Tunisian “Institut national du patrimoine” the thesis will offer a case study of the famous marmor Numidicum. The aims of the study are to sum up the archaeological, epigraphic and written sources to develop a comprehensive understanding of the now available stratified data of the marble all over the Mediterranean from 2nd century BC until the 7th century AD. The main focus is to get an idea of the widespread use of the marmor Numidicum in different times of his extraction and workmanship. Furthermore this data will be periodized and correlated with the urban and quarry development and based on these findings, transport and exportation systems will also be considered. A special focus lies on the urban and landscape evolutions as well as the infrastructural development, which could be periodized in-between the city and the quarries.

First results

Marble from Simitthus was in high demand as a luxury good in the Roman Empire from the 2nd century BC onward, causing an increase in marble quarrying activities. Parallel to the intensification of quarrying and trading activities, Simitthus expanded and gained political importance on a regional level. Giallo antico was well- known throughout the Roman Empire, a fact which is due to the well-established trade routes. The marble was mostly used in pavements. Especially the crustae in opus signinum and opus tessellatum- pavements was part of many late republican and early imperial houses not only of the elite, but also in houses from middle layer society, as the evidence in modern Italy, France and Spain clearly shows. The marmor Numidicum is furthermore part of every huge imperial building process in the 1st century AD in the city of Rome. Its use in pavements and wall incrustation, as architectural elements like columns, cornices as well as statues and small sculptures is present in private housing contexts as well as in public architecture. The marble is a component of the most luxurious decorations we know from antiquity.

A total of 6 QGIS- based periodic “distribution maps” are built to show the evidence and these are interlocked with the iDaifield-database for the amount of data of the archaeological and epigraphic record.

The thesis is dealing with prices, measuring systems as well as questions of local and long-term transport systems. Although the evidence is rarely, the first results can suggest some major roman aristocratic families and especially negotiatores and navicularii that are deeply involved in the marble trade and its distribution.

A quarry administration, based on imperial agents and private businessman was installed in the last quarter of the 1st century BC and probably was used with several modifications up until the 3rd century AD while the marble was still mined until the 4th century AD, maybe until the Arabian conquest.