This is my academic and educational blog about ancient North Africa. I’m Dr. James Patterson, Lecturer in Classics at UT Austin. In the Summer of 2019, Mhamed Gueraini of Expert Algeria and I drove 1,300 miles around northeastern Algeria. I then stopped in Tunisia on my way home. I took loads of pictures.

I’m an academic with an iPhone and a cheap Sony backup, not a professional photographer. Not all the 8.5k pictures I took are great. But sometimes quantity can be as important as quality. Finding pictures of ancient sites and artifacts, landscapes, and modern life in the Maghrib beyond the standard stock photos available online is difficult, and it’s nearly impossible to contextualize anything if you don’t know the region.

So I documented everything. This project is the result.

Mhamed (left) wondering what he signed up for as I (right) take yet another picture of an ancient Roman baby bottle in Tébessa

Romans used the phrase terrae transmarinae, meaning “the lands across the sea,” of their overseas provinces. In late antiquity, North Africans threw it back at Romans to emphasize their autonomy as Rome’s international prestige dwindled. The phrase seems fitting for a project dedicated to the multi-directional interaction of cultures throughout North African antiquity. 

Terrae Transmarinae regularly features an interesting image, set of images, guest post, related news article, or other historical treat about ancient North Africa. Images are culled from the project’s photo repository on Flickr. Posts follow actual routes through the region to give viewers a sense of geographical connectivity. See the map below for places we visit. The project is intended to make North Africa accessible to students, teachers, and anyone else interested in learning about the region. 

Terrae Transmarinae looks forward to a multi-functional digital map of social networks in ancient North Africa. Stay tuned for details as that project gets underway.

Follow @transmarinae on Facebook and Twitter.

Special thanks to Mhamed Gueraini, Expert Algeria, the Department of Classics at the University of Texas at Austin, the Rachel and Ben Vaughan Faculty Fellowship, Rabun Taylor, Adam Rabinowitz, Bill Nethercut, and Miller Imaging & Digital Solutions.

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