Dougga is the modern name for the ancient city of Thugga and covers some 25 hectares so is one of the largest and in many ways most spectacular of the Roman sites in Tunisia due to its location in the mountains.
Originally a Numidian town founded several hundred years earlier Thugga was allied to Rome during the third Punic war so retained much of its independence after Rome's victory and major Romanization of its buildings only occurred around 150AD. There then followed a period of prosperity during which a 3,500 seat theatre, an odeon (small theatre), as well as a hippodrome and possibly an amphitheatre were constructed along with two aqueduct systems to supply water to the town. This period only ended in the fourth century when much of the town was abandoned due to increased taxation followed by the invasion of North Africa by the Vandals.
The Byzantines conquered the area in the sixth century as part of their reconquest of the old Roman Provinces and held it until the seventh century when it was lost along with the rest of the province to the Islamic invasion. During this period the Byzantines made an attempt to fortify the central area of Thugga, principally using stone quarried from buildings in the abandoned part of the town to create a high wall.
Iain Dickson (Melvadius Macrinus Cugerni)
18 April 2002
© All photographs taken by author and may be freely used for non-commercial purposes.
View to the west down one of the main streets from the centre of Dougga with the Capitolium in the background and one of the unexcavated areas on the left-hand side of the picture.
View of the Temple of Mercury with the Capitolium in the background and the Byzantine wall passing between them.
Close up of the Byzantine wall showing dedication stones reused as part of the lower courses of the defences.
Detail from the compass based inscription in the "Square of the Winds", showing one of the twelve winds cut into the pavement.
Capitolium, built between 166 and 169 AD and dedicated to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva
Arch of Alexander Severus looking towards the west.
Reciprocal view through the Arch of Alexander Severus, looking towards the Capitolium.
Southern side of the Forum, with traces of the Byzantine Wall still surviving.
Eastern and Northern sides of the Forum with the Byzantine Wall continuing on the Northern side.
Cisterns of Am el Hammam situated to the North East of the Temple of Caelestis. These were fed by the southernmost of the two aqueducts supplying water to the town.
Temple of Caelestes.
'Temple to an Unknown God'. This temple may have been dedicated to one of the Numidian or Punic gods as, in common with most that have been identified, two pillars flank the entrance. However no evidence has been found to identify which god was worshipped there.
Doorstep beside the "Temple to the Unknown God", showing a palm frond inscription which is believed to have represented good luck.