of schisms in the African church. At their peak, the trends resulted in about 700 bishops in North Africa at a single time.

During Heraclius' reign (610-41), the church faced the monothelite controversy concerning one or two wills in Jesus Christ. The implications of the crisis were felt very widely. Archaeological evidence shows the progressive abandonment of churches at the end of the seventh century. As a result, when the Arabs conquered Carthage in 698, the Catholic community was already seriously weakened. Archaeological data connected with churches are particularly difficult to interpret, because these structures were mainly excavated between the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries when stratigraphic information was seldom collected. Thus it is still impossible to clarify what the situation of the Catholic Church was when the Arabs arrived. Therefore we cannot state with certainty whether the churches were decaying before the Arab invasion or if they survived here (as they did in other regions, such as Jordan) into the first century of Arab domination.


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