The Site of Simitthus
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View of the Marble Hills
From 1965 to 1996 the Tunisian Institute of National Heritage (INP) and the Rome Section of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) set up a programme of research for the ancient quarries and the site of Chimtou. In its course a Numidian sanctuary in Hellenistic style was discovered. It was built in the 2nd. cent. B.C.E. on the Sacred Hill of Chimtou. Its reconstructed Eastern façade forms the central monument displayed in the Chimtou Museum. 
The golden marble of Chimtou was first quarried under Numidian King Micipsa (149 to 118 B.C.). Under Roman rule, the marble served as decoration in public buildings all over the empire, especially in Rome itself. 
The massive Roman exploitation is responsible for the marvellous scenery offered by the golden Chimtou marble cliffs. 
For now more than twenty years they are, like the impressive waste dumps, under protection. 
In course of excavation in the quarry area, the foundations of a Numidian monument were discovered. Around the hill two pagan temples and the remnants of a 5th cent. Christian church were found. 
Marble Cliffs
Roman Quarry Forced Labour Camp
Most important excavation result was a set of buildings North of the marble hills, a Roman quarry service camp. At its center were six halls of a prison for forced labourers, to the East the quarters of the military watchmen, to the West a complex for the imperial administration of the quarries. 
The marble hills of Chimtou are surrounded by the site of ancient Simitthus. The joint Tunisian German excavations there found a cemetery dating from before 400 to 1st cent. B.C. underneath the Roman forum. The graves were preserved and partly reconstructed. The forum itself presents its hillside boutiques and, towards the riverside, a forum basilica and remains of a fountain. 
Roman Forum and Preceeding Numidian Tombs
Roman Bridge
On the Majrada river bank lie impressive ruins of a Roman bridge. It is dated into the 3rd and 4th centuries A.D. Attached to it was one of the two known water driven turbine flour mills of Roman North Africa. It operated four shafts. A functioning scaled model of the turbine can be seen in the museum. 
Furthermore, remains of many buildings customary to a Roman city still exist. The rests of a small amphitheatre, a theatre , the forum basilica, another three nave basilica and the city baths still stand above ground. 
The water supply of Roman Chimtou was part of the Tunisian German research programme. The aquaeduct drew its water from a small stream dam in the hills to the North. It was 14 kms long. About 2,5 kms before its end it ran through a large subterranean reservoir, which is still fairly well preserved. Towards the town end it rose into a fully bridged aquaeduct ending near the public baths. Many of its arches are still visible. Aquaeduct
A Map of the Site
Site Map
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1 Roman bridge across Majrada 
2 Roman turbine mill 
3 Theatre 
4 Forum with basilica, arch, fountain and preceding Numidian tombs 
5 Market basilica 
6 Municipal baths
7 Aquaeduct 
8 Forced labour camp, quarry administration, guard's garrison 
9 Byzantine church 
10 Rock reliefs 
11 Rock stairway to Saturn sanctuary
12 Numidian hill sanctuary, temple of Saturn, Byzantine church 
13 Sanctuary of the Dii Mauri
14 Sanctuary of Caelestis
15 Large roman building (quarry administration?) 
16 19th cent. Italian church
17 Roman quarry waste mound 
18 Amphitheatre 
19 Roman funeral buildings
20 Roman transport road from quarry to river 
21 Roman wall separating colony from imperial property
22 Archaeological Museum 
23 Cafeteria 
24 Roman deep quarrying 

Click here to read the latest addition to the Simitthu Area page, entitled
Simitthu Strollers and Escapees

"The Site of Simitthus" will be continued.

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