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Kerouane is towards to tip of Cap Bon. It is a lovely site at the end of a side road. The entrance is in a new building with ticket office and shop selling a few post cards. There is an information board and map of the site. The museum is in a separate building and is excellent. It is built round a courtyard with display rooms off. There is a model of the site and displays of pottery, jewellery and small carved animals found around the site.

A pathway with a carefully tended garden leads to the ruins which overlook the sea.There has been a settlement here since the 8thC BC and it was a major Punic site controlled by Carthage between 4th-2nd BC. It was abandoned after the fall of Carthage, never re-occupied and covered by blown sand. It is the only example of a Punic settlement to have survived untouched and is a World Heritage Site.

It is a large site and a lot is still unexcavated. A fenced off route leads round the ruins and there are a few information boards. However many of these are worn and the writing is hard to decipher.

It seems to have been the home of an urban elite of merchants and craftsmen. Numerous pottery workshops and kilns have been found as well as jewellery making, stone carving and glass making. It was a major manufacturing centre for ‘Tyrian purple’ which was made from a from a shellfish called Murex. These were collected and left to rot in large pits dug in the ground.

Unlike Roman towns, there is a complete lack of public buildings, apart from small public baths on Rue des Artisans and a temple with priest’s house next to it.

It was surrounded by a semi circular double outer wall. A small fort was built at the north and the south gate was fortified. The west gate was the main entrance and is offset between walls. The houses were set back from the sea along broad streets with small squares. The walls still stand 2’ high in places and curb stones, drains, doorsteps and thresholds can be seen in places. All the houses are built on the same pattern around a courtyard. Most houses were single storey. A narrow corridor from the street leads into small courtyard with a well and perhaps an altar to the household gods. Each had private bath lined with reddish cement. Some were covered with pink and white mosaics.

The walls were made of rubble with solid stone slabs and uprights holding the structure together (a kind of construction known as Opus Africanum). Some still have coloured clay on their facades. The interior walls were decorated with ornate plaster friezes and carvings. The houses would have had flat roofs with stone water spouts to get rid of water. Many still have red floors made from broken bits of pottery inset with small white marble chips, an early form of mosaic known as Opus Signinum).

It is a delightful place which we had to ourselves and we could easily have spent a lot longer there. There is also nice view along the coast with waves breaking on the shore.

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