Tébessa Baptismal Font and Baptistery
Cioffi, Paul L., 1928-2004
When the North African settlement of Tébessa became part of the Roman Empire in 146, C.E., the city was known as Theveste. Between the 4th and 6th centuries a monastery/church complex was built there not unlike the complex developed by Augustine at Hippo. It was constructed around the site of a martyrium (ca. 370) that had replaced a yet more ancient memoria. Foundations of the monastic complex were discovered and traced in the 19th C. by Léon Renier and have been further analyzed by Richard Krautheimer in the 20th C. The hexagonal baptismal font (shown here) occupied a small room to the south of an atrium (or propylaeum) that lay between a large forecourt and an eleven-bay basilica. The baptistery room was adjacent to (but appears not to have communicated with) the large, trefoil martyrium (which was accessed from the southwest side of the nave via a grand staircase). Atrium and church were bordered by rectangular cells. A wall with towers surrounded the entire complex. Note the white marble circle embellished with carved scallops that paves the floor of the baptismal font. ca. June 1984
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