GEORGE HOLTON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GEORGE HOLTON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Gafsa, Tunisia. Detail of a 5th century mosaic depicting a group of spectators at a circus. Now in Bardo Museum, Tunis. The Roman circus consisted of tiers of seats running parallel with the sides of the course, and forming a crescent around one of the ends. The lower seats were reserved for persons of rank; there were also state boxes for the giver of the games and his friends. In Ancient Rome the circus was the only public spectacle at which men and women were not separated. The Romans controlled nearly all of modern Tunisia from 149 BC until the area was conquered by the Vandals in the 5th century AD, only to be reconquered by Roman general Belisarius in the 6th century, during the rule of Emperor Justinian I. There was a huge production of mosaics and ceramics, exported mainly to Italy, in the central area of El Djem (where there was the second biggest amphitheatre in the Roman Empire).
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