Located in one of the most fertile regions of northern Tunisia, the site of Thuburbo Maius bears witness to the prosperity of the plain of the wadi Miliane-el Kebir during antiquity. Its total surface area of 120 hectares, with one-third inside the gates, is that of the medium-sized towns of ancient Tunisia.
The original name Thuburbo, of Libyan-Berber origin, was modified by the Roman administration, by adding the adjective Maius, which means ‘Greater’, or better still ‘Ancient’. This new denomination dates back to the beginning of the Roman period, certainly at the time of the deduction, about 50 km to the north, of the military colony of Thuburbo Minus, (the present Tebourba).
The oldest archeological evidence of the town dates back to the Punic period but is limited to a potter's kiln, floors, ceramic shards, and Punic coins found in some districts of the town. The centerpiece of the town's pre-Roman past is a votive cippus dedicated to Demeter dating from the 2nd -1st century BC. (today in the Bardo Museum).
The Roman town is, on the other hand, very well known thanks to its rich monumental finery (the forum quarter, the public winter and summer baths, a palestra (sports venue), sumptuous houses with, in some cases, craft quarters, about 16 temples...). The urbanization process has followed the different phases of the history of the Roman city, in particular the two status promotions of the 2nd century (municipium under Hadrian and honorary colony under Commodus), and the urban rehabilitation restoration works of the 4th century. From the 5th century onwards, epigraphic documentation became scarce and public monuments were abandoned or, in some cases, converted into craft workshops, as evidenced by the installation of an oil mill in the basement of the capitol).
The Vandal and later Byzantine presence is evident in early Christian art and architecture. A gold jewel found in the tomb of a vandal woman and the architecture of a temple transformed into a church are the most eloquent witnesses of these cultures.
The last archaeological evidence in the city, including ceramics from the demise backfill of some parts of the site, dates from the early 7th century.