Thuburbo Majus

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This is close to Tunis and a 'must see' for most visitors.

There is a large a modern ticket office with reasonable toilets next to it, although they didn't run to toilet paper or soap.

As we found out during our trip through Tunisia there are no real facilities on the site. There is no cafe and no shop selling souvenirs. All there was were a few dog eared postcards.

There was a coach in the car park and our hearts sank, However we managed to avoid them as they went round in a carefully controlled group with a guide and once they had gone, had the site to ourselves.

It is a delightful place and at the end of March was covered in very lush vegetation with banks of yellow daisies, purple borage, mallow, red campion, white stock, vetches and many others I couldn't put a name to. Later in the year after the flowers have died down it may not be as attractive.

This was originally a Punic town which paid dues to Rome after the conquest of Carthage. Emperor Augustus founded a colony of veterans here in 27BC who helped control the area and movement of goods and people between the plain and along the coast. The town was in the centre of a very fertile area producing grain, fruit and olives.

The capitol building dominates the site with the remains of colonnades silhouetted against the sky, reached by a flight of steps. Walls were built with large upright stones to provide strength and support with smaller stones between them, a style know as Opus Africanum. In front is a large paved forum. Off it is the Temple of Mercury with eight columns arranged in a circle, an unusual arrangement probably reflecting the Punic origin of the town. We could see the remains of stalls in the market place.

There are remains of paved roadways with buildings along them, many still with the remains of mosaics. These retain the original Punic layout rather than the rigid grid pattern of Roman towns. The Palestra of Petronius still has columns with carved entablature above. This was used for games and gymnastic activities and is next to the summer baths next to it were roped off when we visited.

We found the remains of the Byzantine church behind the summer baths with the remains of a baptismal fountain.

I had printed off maps of the site from the internet and went prepared with information from the guide books so we didn't need a guide.

This was our first Roman site in Tunisia and we loved the place.

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