Timgad in Algeria is one of the largest cities built on the orders of the Emperor Trajan about 100 AD on the grid pattern typical of Roman cities, crossed by two main thoroughfares, the decumanus maximus running east to west and the cardo, north to south. The forum at the intersection of the two roads was the political, legal, religious and economic centre of the city. The longitudinal section shows the buildings on the western side of the forum from the temple of Jupiter Capitoline (on the left) preceded by its portico, followed by the theatre with its magnificent stage wall decorated with columns, alcoves and statues, and splendid marble décor topped with masts which once held an awning as protection from the sun. Next is a succession of forum buildings, temples, and the Senate, ending with Trajan's triumphal arch.
The three superb restitutions in the Musee d'Orsay are evidence of one of the earliest excavations by French archaeologists. The campaign began in 1880 and Albert Ballu took charge in 1889. The architect's career was divided between the restoration of historic monuments and construction. For thirty years he was the chief architect of the Historical Monuments department in Algeria, where he also directed excavations at Tebessa and finished the cathedral of Algiers. He was asked to build the Algerian Pavilion at the Universal Exhibitions of 1889 and 1900.
These outstanding drawings reveal the extreme wealth of Timgad, nicknamed the "Algerian Pompeii" because of the luxurious materials used – blue and white limestone, sandstone and marble – and the profusion of sculptures, inscriptions and magnificent mosaic pavements.