Republic of Tunisia
Ministry of Cultural Affairs

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The Punic city of Kerkouane, located at the tip of the Cap Bon peninsula, is on the UNESCO World Heritage List since November28th, 1986.

The earliest archeological evidence dates back to the 6th century BC, while the end of the city coincides with the middle of the 3rdcentury BC (256-255).

The site presents the advantage of having been definitively abandoned and not rebuilt, after having suffered total destruction during the First Punic War.

This treated Tunisia and, more generally, the international scientific community with the only preserved Punic city.

The city’s urban-planning features, now visible in the field, go back to a period ranging between the end of the 4thcentury BC and the first half of the 3rd century BC. The urban space is divided between citizens, deities, and the dead.


Well-designed urban planning and an elaborate defense system

The city is protected by a double wall enclosure that surrounds the urban fabric. Towers were built along the ramparts, pierced by two monumental gates and four posterns.

Streets intersected at right angles and formed a checkerboard spaced out by squares. Sewers and collectors were provided in different streets of the city for the evacuation of waste and rainwater. The city's urban planning is well-designed and follows a pre-established general plan.


A standardized domestic architecture

The Mediterranean house with a central courtyard is the most common type of housing. The different rooms of the house are arranged around the patio, which provided ventilation and light. Other houses with a row structure, attributed to the Libyan substratum, have also been identified on the site.

Each house owned a well. The bathroom is the distinguishing feature of domestic architecture in Kerkouane; all houses had one. This is a clear indication of the importance attached to bodily hygiene. Rainwater was evacuated utilizing pipes, gargoyles, basins, and gutters.

Different types of pavements decorated the floors of the houses, with ornamental motifs such as the Tanit sign, fish, and lotus flowers.

The sacred in Kerkouane 

In the heart of the city, on the public road, rises the great sanctuary whose plan is consistent with the Semitic prototype, based on three components: the vestibule, the courtyard with an altar, and the podium where the cella, housing the divine images, stands. In the current state of knowledge, this sacred venue which was open to multiple cults is claimed to be the largest Punic temple in the western Mediterranean.


The realm of the dead: architecture and funerary beliefs

Necropolises were outside the city walls. Tombs, composed of three parts consisting of a shaft, a dromos (corridor), and a burial chamber, represent the majority of the recognized tomb structures in Kerkouane.

Archaeological excavations have provided a better understanding of the organization of the realm of the dead (architecture, funerary practices, and beliefs). The walls of the famous Tomb VIII of the Jebel Melzza bear a painted decoration that recounts in images the journey of the soul, in the form of a bird, to the afterlife.

The rich material, collected from the tombs, spans the period between the 6th and 3rd centuries BC.


An urbanized society and a prosperous economy

The population, estimated at 2100 inhabitants living on an overall surface of 7 hectares within the city walls, enjoyed many of the amenities of advanced urban life. The nuclear family was the essential cell of society. There were, presumably, full citizens, free men of inferior status, slaves, natives, and foreigners.

The city was mainly made up of craftsmen, merchants, and fishermen. A quarter was dedicated to crafts near the public square and the houses and the sanctuary. This square had undoubtedly served as a market where craftsmen displayed their products. The craftsmen's quarter and the public square, which had been used as a market, were undoubtedly the socio-economic center of the city.

The population of Kerkouane was largely open to the Mediterranean and other cultures. Objects imported to the city from Greece, southern Italy, Egypt, etc. tell a lot about fashion trends, tastes, and cultural contacts. The archaeological documentation on the relationship the Punic city of Kerkouane may have maintained with the Mediterranean is rich and diverse.


Cap Bon

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Winter timing: 09:00 - 16:00

Summer timing: 09:00 - 18:00

Ramadan timing: 9:30 -17:00

Visit Cost

Resident: 5 Dt

Non-resident: 8 Dt


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