Fragment from the Forum Basilica

The forum basilica demarcated the southeastern side of the forum square. More architectural fragments remain from this structure than from all of the others in the forum area. The ceramic evidence from our excavation dates the construction of the forum basilica to the first half of the second century A.D. The basilica was a three-aisled structure whose nave was flanked by twelve, green cipollino shafts. Like several other basilicas, namely the Severan basilica in Lepcis Magna and the basilica as Ascalon, the basilica at Meninx had heart-shaped columns at the rear corners of the nave. Several fragments, nos. 98.69 and 98.81, from these rear corner columns survive.

Acting as foundation blocks for the basilica’s ground story colonnades were entablature blocks from an earlier structure. The partial profile of these blocks can be seen on no. 98.119. The striated stone is similar to the striated stone that was used for the consoles and sculpted pillars from the basilica’s attached portico. The eastern Attic bases were probably hewn from Proconnesian marble, while the Corinthian capitals were hewn from a medium-grained white marble, possibly Pentelic. An apse, which was paved in a yellowish-red stone, possibly giallo antico, terminated the southwestern end.

Similar to the ground story, the upper story had white marble bases (and presumably white marble capitals as well) with cipollino column shafts. Utilizing the standard proportion between the column base diameter and the height of the order, the height of the order with this base would be c. 6.2 m., i.e., four fifths the height of the first story. Above the upper story’s columns rested an entablature in the grayish-white Proconnesian marble. Currently everything above the upper story’s column shafts in the basilica is pure conjecture. However, we do know that the basilica was covered with roof tiles imported from Italy.