Djemila Baptistery Exterior, Rear View
Cioffi, Paul L., 1928-2004
Djemila (Cuicul) was founded as a Roman military garrison in the mountains of North Africa (now southeastern Algeria) in the first century, C.E., and abandoned in the 5th C. Excavations (begun 1909) have revealed one of the best-preserved Roman sites in North Africa, abundant with mosaics and artifacts that have, for the most part, been kept at Djemila. Among its remains is an extensive Christian church complex (founded by a bishop Cresconius, ca. 400-411) that includes two basilicas, crypts and a baptistery that is notable for is monumentality. The baptistery (late 4th / early 5th C.), shown here from the outside, lies to the west of the pair of basilicas. It is round and domed with small, slit windows. (The exterior dome has been restored.) The baptistery's sole purpose would have been to house the Christian initiation rite of Baptism. The building at Djemila is attached to thermae, a small basilica and two open courtyards. Presumably, all these spaces provided settings for rites that preceded or complemented Baptism. ca. June 1983
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