Helmuth N. Loose

The golden marble ridges of Chimtou, Tunisia, were first quarried by the ancient kings of Numidia, a North African kingdom roughly corresponding to modern Algeria. The Numidian king Micipsa (149–118 B.C.) used marble from the Chimtou area to construct an elaborate Hellenistic funeral monument for his father Massinissa. (A model of this monument is shown in the next photo.) After the Romans conquered Numidia in 46 B.C., they established a town at Chimtou and began exporting the region’s marble throughout the empire. Because of its unusual tawny color, Chimtou marble became popular among Romans and was chosen to decorate some of the empire’s finest buildings, including Hadrian’s villa at Tivoli.