@Dumbarton Oaks

Collection MS.BZ.001 - Margaret Alexander Papers and Records of the Corpus des Mosaïques de Tunisie, ca. 1940s-2000s

Identity area

Reference code

US DcWaDIC MS.BZ.001

Title

Margaret Alexander Papers and Records of the Corpus des Mosaïques de Tunisie, ca. 1940s-2000s

Date(s)

  • ca. 1940s-2000s (Creation)

Level of description

Collection

Extent and medium

40 boxes of documents and photographs
Approximately 9,400 negatives and transparencies
Approximately 9,600 slides

Context area

Name of creator

Alexander, Margaret A. (1916-1996)

Biographical history

Alexander specialized in late antique mosaics of Tunisia. She received her PhD in 1958 from the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University. She was a junior fellow at Dumbarton Oaks from 1942-1945. From 1967 to 1996, in collaboration with Mongi Ennaifer, she co-directed the Tunisian-American project Corpus of the Mosaics of Tunisia, which was supported in part by Dumbarton Oaks. She excavated at major sites in Tunisia, including Carthage, Dermesh, El Jem, Thuburbo Majus, and Utica. The first fascicle of the Corpus des Mosaïques de Tunisie appeared in 1973 and the final volume under her direction was published posthumously in 1999.

Name of creator

Alexander, Robert L. (1920-1998)

Biographical history

Professor Emeritus at University of Iowa whose research focus was the Hittite art of Anatolia and Baltimore architecture of the early decades of the 19th century. Assisted his wife Margaret Alexander with her research on the Corpus des Mosaïques de Tunisie, including undertaking completion of the final volume of the Corpus. Also taught at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), University of Pittsburgh, and Pennsylvania State University.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The transfer of this collection from Margaret Alexander’s estate in Iowa City, Iowa, to Dumbarton Oaks was made possible through collaborations between Alice-Mary Talbot (former Director of Byzantine Studies of Dumbarton Oaks, 1997-2009), Natalia Teteriatnikov, Marie Spiro, Christine Kondoleon, Aïcha Ben Abed-Ben Khader, and Harriet Alexander (daughter of Margaret Alexander). According to an informal oral history interview with Marie Spiro on November 16, 2011, Spiro approached Alice-Mary Talbot in ca. 1998 about acquiring Margaret Alexander’s papers from her estate in Iowa. The collection was assessed, packed, and shipped by Marie Spiro and Christine Kondoleon in December 1998. During the transfer, the collection was arranged by site in alphabetical order.

In March 1995, Henry Maguire (former Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Studies Director, 1991-1996) and Margaret Alexander made an agreement to make two copies of each photograph from the Carthage negatives, with one copy of each print stored in Dumbarton Oaks and the second copy, used for publication, was given to the Institut National du Patrimoine in Tunis. This agreement or “contractual obligation” was honored in June 1997, according to a letter between Alice-Mary Talbot and Robert Alexander. However, the agreement did not come into effect until the fiscal year of 2002-2003 (for more information, see Processing Information).

On March 20, 2012, Marie Spiro donated one (1) 35 mm color slide that depicts Margaret Alexander and Ernst Kitzinger in Utique in September 1971. On March 30, 2012, Marie Spiro donated an additional five (5) 35 mm color slides that depict Margaret Alexander, Ernst Kitzinger, Aїcha Ben Abed-Ben Khader, students, and visitors either in Utique or Thuburbo Majus.

On May 23, 2013, Anna Gonosová donated fourteen (14) contact sheets from rolls of 35 mm black and white film negatives taken by Gonosová during the 1992 and 1993 seasons of the Carthage campaign. Her donation also includes two identification lists entitled “Carthage, Summer 1992, AG/B&W” and “Carthage, Summer 1993, AG/B&W.”

Content and structure area

Scope and content

This collection primarily documents the fieldwork and publication projects of the Corpus des Mosaїques de Tunisie team, co-directed by Margaret Alexander. The investigations and publications of the Tunisian pavement or floor mosaics in Utique, Thuburbo Majus, El Jem, and Carthage occurred between 1967 and the 1990s. In 1967, the project launched to create a catalog of ancient Roman and Late Antique mosaics in Tunisia. It was administered through the Foreign Currency Program of the Smithsonian Institution, and the project and/or the publication were sponsored by various institutions such as the Byzantine Studies Program of the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, the American Academy in Rome, the University of Iowa, the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University, the J. Paul Getty Trust, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and many more. The fieldwork projects resulted in the publication of the Corpus des Mosaїques de Tunisie in four volumes, published only in French (for more information about the publications, see Bibliography).

The collection contains correspondence, financial records, archaeological reports, copies of field notebooks, copies of find books (e.g., coins and pottery fragments), copies of articles, ground plans, research notes, postcards, lists of photographs and descriptions, contact sheets, black and white and color photographic prints in various sizes, slides, negatives, transparencies, and oversize materials. These items illustrate and document: the administrative and fieldwork affairs of the Corpus des Mosaїques de Tunisie team—co-directors, field directors, photographers, conservators, researchers, architects and/or architectural historians, archeologists, volunteers, etc.—in Tunisia; the research efforts of the team (e.g., to determine the archaeological and architectural contexts of the mosaics); the editorial process and publication of the four volumes; and Margaret and Robert Alexander’s trips to museums and other archaeological sites in North Africa and the Mediterranean. Additionally, this collection documents Margaret Alexander’s research interests as a Ph.D. candidate in the 1950s, prior to her involvement with the Corpus des Mosaїques de Tunisie project and the materials on the Tomb Mosaics of North Africa.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

Accruals

System of arrangement

This collection is divided into two (2) subgroups, which span the length of Margaret Alexander’s academic and professional career, from the 1940s to the 1990s, and the archaeological and publication projects of the Corpus des Mosaїques de Tunisie team, from 1967 to the 1990s. It is roughly arranged by fieldwork campaign and/or in chronological order.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Access to the collection is unrestricted. It is available for research purposes only. Appointment is required for access because researcher space is limited: http://www.doaks.org/icfa-appointment-request-form. For research queries, contact the staff of Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives (icfa@doaks.org).

Conditions governing reproduction

Duplication of materials in the collection may be governed by copyright and other restrictions.

Language of material

  • English
  • French

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

All negatives, transparencies, and slides have been moved to ICFA’s cold storage for preservation purposes.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Digital copies of selected materials from the collection are featured in the online exhibition "From Clearing to Cataloging: The Corpus of Tunisian Mosaics" - http://www.doaks.org/library-archives/icfa/online-exhibits/clearing-to-cataloging

Related units of description

At Dumbarton Oaks:

At other institutions:

Publication note

Volume I: Utica (Margaret and Ennaifer as Co-directors)

Alexander, Margaret Ames, Mongi Ennaifer, Jerrold Gretzinger, Guy P.R. Métraux, David Soren, and Marie Spiro. Corpus des Mosaїques de Tunisie: Volume I, Fascicule 1, Utica, Insulae I-II-III. Tunis: Institut National d’Archéologie et d’Arts, 1973.

Duliere, Cécile, Sadok Ben Baaziz, Jerrold Gretzinger, Guy P.R. Métraux, and David Soren. Corpus des Mosaїques de Tunisie: Volume I, Fascicule 2, Utique, Mosaїques in situ en dehors des Insulae I-II-III. Tunis: Institut National d’Archéologie et d’Arts, 1974.

Alexander, Margaret A., Saїda Besrour, Mongi Ennaifer, Aїcha Ben Abed, and Cécile Duliere. Corpus des Mosaїques de Tunisie: Volume I, Fascicule 3, Utique, Mosaїques sans localization precise et El Alia. Tunis: Institut National d’Archéologie et d’Arts, 1976.

Volume II: Thuburbo Majus (Alexander and Ennaifer as Co-directors)

Alexander, Margaret A., Aїcha Ben Abed, Saїda Besrour, Ben Mansour, and David Soren. Corpus des Mosaїques de Tunisie: Volume II, Fascicule 1, Thuburbo Majus, Région du Forum. Tunis: Institut National d’Archéologie et d’Arts, 1980.

Ben Abed-Ben Khader, Aїcha, Mongi Ennaifer, Marie Spiro, Margaret A. Alexander, and David Soren. Corpus des Mosaїques de Tunisie: Volume II, Fascicule 2, Thuburbo Majus, Région des Grands Thermes. Tunis: Institut National d’Archéologie et d’Arts, 1985.

Ben Abed-Ben Khader, Aїcha. Corpus des Mosaїques de Tunisie: Volume II, Fascicule 3, Thuburbo Majus, Région Ouest. Tunis: Institut National d’Archéologie et d’Arts, 1987.

Alexander, Margaret A., Aїcha Ben Abed-Ben Khader, David Soren, and Marie Spiro. Corpus des Mosaїques de Tunisie: Volume II, Fascicule 4, Thuburbo Majus, Région Est, Mise à jour du catalogue de Thuburbo Majus et les Environs. Tunis: Institut National d’Archéologie et d’Arts, 1994.

Volume III: Thysdrus (El Jem) (Alexander and Ennaifer as Co-directors)

Duliere, Cécile, Hédi Slim, Margaret A. Alexander, Steven Ostrow, John G. Pedley, and David Soren. Corpus des Mosaїques de Tunisie: Volume III, Fascicule 1, Thysdrus (El Jem), Quartier Sud-Ouest. Tunis: Institut National d’Archéologie et d’Arts, 1996.

Volume IV: Karthago (Carthage) (Alexander and Ben Abed-Ben Khader as Co-Directors)

Ben Abed-Ben Khader, Aїcha, Margaret A. Alexander, Robert L. Alexander, Wassila Bairem-Ben Osman, Noël Duval, Anna Gonosova, Christine Kondoleon, Guy Métraux, and Roger Hanoune. Corpus des Mosaїques de Tunisie: Volume IV, Fascicule 1, Karthago (Carthage), Les mosaїques du Parc archéologique des Thermes d’Antonin. Tunis: Institut National d’Archéologie et d’Arts, 1999.

Other Works by Margaret Alexander

Alexander, Margaret Ames. “The Symbolism of Christianity.” Archaeology 3 (1950): 242-247.

Alexander, Margaret Ames. “The Roman city of Mactaris.” Archaeology 4 (1951): 213-217.

Alexander, Margaret Ames. “Early Christian tomb mosaics of North Africa.” Ph.D. diss., New York University, 1958.

Alexander, Margaret Ames. “New Data on the Mosaics of Utica.” American Journal of Archaeology 76 (1972): 204.

Alexander, Margaret Ames. “Mosaic Ateliers at Tabarka.” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 41 (1987): 1-11.

Alexander, Margaret Ames and Susan T. Stevens. “A Symmetrical Building Containing Burials
Adjacent to the Northeast Corner of the Basilica” in Bir El Knissia at Carthage: A Redicovered Cemetery Church, Report No. 1, edited by Susan T. Stevens, 119-141. Ann Arbor, Michigan: The Kelsey Museum, 1993.

Alexander, Margaret Ames, Aїcha Ben Abed-Ben Khader, and Guy P.R. Métraux. “The Corpus
of Mosaics of Tunisia: Carthage Project, 1992-1994.” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 50 (1996): 361-368.

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Place access points

Name access points

Description control area

Description identifier

US

Institution identifier

DcWaDIC

Rules and/or conventions used

Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)

Status

Draft

Level of detail

Minimal

Dates of creation revision deletion

This record was created by Shalimar White on January 27, 2014 and August 6, 2015.

Language(s)

Script(s)

Sources

Archivist's note

Preliminary assessment started immediately after the collection was received in 1998. Spiro, Kondoleon, and Gonosová collected and organized relevant materials from the Alexanders’ estate and shipped the collection to Dumbarton Oaks. Between 2002 and 2003, the slides and negatives were both accessioned and digitized as part of the agreement between the Institut National du Patrimoine in Tunis and Dumbarton Oaks. In November 2003, Dumbarton Oaks sent nine digital discs of photographs of the projects in Utique and Thuburbo Majus to Aïcha Ben Abed-Ben Khader of the Institut National du Patrimoine in Tunisia. It is unclear if the Carthage negatives have also been digitized, though this was part of the original agreement.

Research, re-assessment, and initial inventory were conducted by Jonathan Warner, a former intern from the George Washington University (September-December 2011). The inventory and re-assessment were continued by Robin Pokorski, a former intern from the George Washington University (January-May 2012), who also used the collection for an on-site and online exhibit in conjunction with the Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Studies Symposium on April 27-29, 2012.

In September 2013, Kelly Hughes, a former intern from the George Washington University, finalized the re-assessment and finding aid. During this time, ICFA staff decided to re-organize the collection materials in order to reflect the actual creation of the materials and efforts of the Corpus des Mosaїques de Tunisie team: 1) Margaret’s dissertation materials prior to her involvement with the Corpus des Mosaїques de Tunisie project; 2) the Corpus des Mosaїques de Tunisie project materials chronologically by fieldwork campaigns. In addition, the folders were arranged (when necessary) based on the order of chapters in the publications. The collection title was also changed from the “Margaret A. Alexander Archive” to “Margaret Alexander Papers and Records of the Corpus des Mosaïques de Tunisie, 1940s-2000s.”

The finding aid was edited by ICFA Archivist Rona Razon, ICFA Byzantine Research Associate Fani Gargova, and ICFA Manager Shalimar White, and was finalized in July 2015.

Rights area

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Act

Research

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Allow

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Rights note(s)

Preferred Citation: Margaret Alexander Papers and Records of the Corpus des Mosaïques de Tunisie, ca. 1940s-2000s, MS.BZ.001, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, Washington, D.C.

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Act

Publish

Restriction

Disallow

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Rights note(s)

Materials are for research and study purposes only.

Basis

Copyright

Copyright status

Under copyright

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Copyright jurisdiction

Copyright note

Digital object metadata

Media type

Text

Mime-type

application/pdf

Filesize

696.9 KiB

Uploaded

August 6, 2015 11:17 AM

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