Website Category: Fortified Cities of the Maghreb
Criteria: (iii) cultural tradition
Location and Values: The ruins of the Punic Town of Kerkuane are located on a cliff-top at the eastern end of Cape Bon, about 80 km (by line-of-sight) east of Tunis. The ruins, discovered in 1952, are those of a planned Phoenician town, protected by double fortifications, dating from the late 4th and early 3rd centuries BC. Unlike other such towns, Kerkuane was abandoned in the middle of the 3rd century BC, and the Romans did not build on the same site, so the port, ramparts, residential districts, shops, workshops, streets, squares, temples and necropolis remain as they were originally. Before the discovery of Kerkuane, little was known about Punic architecture and town planning.
The ruins have been excavated and partially restored, so that the layout of the town is clear, and features of some of the main buildings can be seen, including the room layout and even some old mosaics. The houses were built around courtyards with a corridor to the street and stairs leading up to a roof-top terrace. Homes were decorated with red floors inlaid with white-stone fragments, with ornate plaster friezes and carvings on the walls and ceilings. Individual arm-chair style baths are a special feature of the town, contrasting with the Roman public bathing of later centuries.
Slideshow of the Punic Town Of Kerkuane And Its Necropolis: The slideshow features photos of the street layout, houses and principal buildings of the town (but does not include anything from the site museum or separate necropolis site). It follows a walking tour in a clockwise direction, beginning on the Rue de l’Apotropaion and featuring the town’s most prestigious house, overlooking the sea with its colonnaded atrium and elaborate arm-chair bath. The tour shows various buildings around the town, including parts that have been restored as well as areas that remain unexcavated. Much of the site is still covered in soil and vegetation as it has remained for more than two millennia. The tour ends with the best example of opus signinum (scatter-pattern mosaic) flooring found at the ‘House of Tanit’, where a simple white talismanic sign is embedded at the entrance.
Slideshow of the Punic Town Of Kerkuane And Its Necropolis:
Google Earth View: To view satellite imagery of the Punic Town of Kerkuane on Google Earth, click here. This opens a new window, so when you are finished, just close the Google Earth page and you will be straight back here to continue browsing.
Other Links: Official UNESCO Site Details