The Mini-Columbarium in Carthage's Yasmina cemetery
Clerkin, Caitlin Chien
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The Mini-Columbarium in Carthage’s Roman-era Yasmina cemetery combines regional construction methods with a Roman architectural form to express the privileged status of its wealthy interred; this combination deploys monumental architectural language on a small scale. This late second or early third century C.E. tomb uses the very North African method of vaulting tubes, in development in this period, for an aggrandizing vaulted ceiling in a collective tomb type derived from the environs of Rome, the columbarium. The use of the columbarium type signals its patrons’ engagement with Roman mortuary trends—and so, with culture of the center of imperial power— to a viewer and imparts a sense of group membership to both interred and visitor. The type also, characteristically, provides an interior space for funerary ritual and commemoration, which both sets the Mini-Columbarium apart at Yasmina and facilitates normative Roman North African funerary ritual practice, albeit in a communal context.