Civilized Vandals

“The heirs of the Northern African empire – the kingdom of the Vandals” is the title of the major state exhibition presented this year by the Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe from 24 October 2009 to 21 February 2010. The rise and flourishing of the Vandal kingdom presents a new image of the culture and history of northern Africa during Late Antiquity and the Vandal epoch. This depiction contradicts the poor reputation of the Vandals by showing that the Germanic people lived in a civilised state. This theory is further illustrated by over 500 exhibition objects from internationally renowned museums. Who were the Vandals? According to Roman chronicler Hydiatus, an era ended on 19 October 439 in the northern African province of the Roman Empire when the Vandals conquered Carthage. In their search for new areas to settle, they had come to Africa ten years prior. Their rule lasted for less than 100 years because they were defeated by the army of the Eastern Roman emperor. The exhibition tells the story of the Vandals in seven phases and provides background information about the late Roman Empire, the origins of the Vandals and their wanderings, including their migration to northern Africa. Other aspects of the exhibition explore the founding of the Vandal kingdom in northern Africa, their everyday life, their Christianity, their baptismal and burial rites as well as the decline of their state and subsequent rule of the Aghlabids in northern Africa.