The museum of Zarzis is located in a church built at the beginning of the last century by Father Gabriel Deshay. Named “Notre-Dame De La Garde this church was inaugurated on May 10, 1926.
The building is laid out in a classical cross shape. The entrance, featuring a porch surmounted by a bell tower which was demolished and replaced by a dome, gives access to the nave, a vast rectangular hall covered with four high vaults supported by large arches and flanked by side aisles each consisting of three communicating bays where display cases have been installed. At the back is the transept, taking the form of a wing aligned perpendicular to the nave on a north-south axis and projecting from the boundaries of the nave to form the cruciform.This transept gives access to two symmetrical rooms that make up its two arms. It also gives access to the choir, a vast room covered with a beautiful high dome. The choir is flanked by two rectangular corridors leading to two symmetrical rooms, one of which would be the sacristy.
The museum exhibits diverse archaeological collections discovered in the Zarzis peninsula which was part of the Little Sirte occupied by the Punics and then by the Romans. Among these collections are ceramic objects of Punic tradition: an amphorette from chammakh, a dish from Zita (Zian) and two unguentaria (small ceramic bottles)from Gigthi. A showcase is dedicated to the steles discovered in the tophet (open-air sanctuary) of Zita. They are decorated with signs attributed to the Punic goddess TANIT: caduceus, crescent, solar disk, triangle, palm...
A beautiful ionic capital and an epitaph dedicated to Antonia Maxima are displayed in other niches. Other showcases display Roman objects: cups, oenochoes, African sigillata and terracotta dishes. These pieces come from Chammakh, Khaoui Lagdir, Ras Lemsa, Bou Garnin...In the middle of the nave, the visitor may admire the beautiful model representing the forum of GIGHTI. This monument is surrounded on three sides by a portico on which temples open. The third niche on the right and the space at the back of the nave are dedicated to the exhibition of five headless statues discovered in the forum of Zita. They include toga draped figures as well as a male, half-naked statue, probably representing the god Apollo.
Showcases on the left are devoted to the display of amphorae from the Zita and Chammakh sites, where large kilns were used to produce these containers used for the storage and transport of products for export: oil and fish products such as cured fish and garum. Beautiful funerary artifacts discovered in the Chammakh necropolis are displayed in the showcases installed in the niches and bays to the left of the nave. These funerary goods include amphorae, oenochoes, thin-walled bowls, and Arretin plates imported from Italy, as well as a beautiful cistus used in the ceremonies of mystical cults that would relate to the Egyptian deity ISIS.
Exhibits in the last showcase include the main products that made Zarzis famous: i.e. olive oil, salt and fishing products, represented here by a sponge.