Monday, April 26, 2010
Tunisia Trip -- Part Twelve
Our first stop on our journey into the interior was at the town of Sbeitla, where we spent some time visiting the ruins of the Roman city of Sufetula. This site had originated as a military camp, established by the Legio III Augusta in the first century AD. The legion had responsibility for providing security for Rome's Africa colonies and this was one of the key elements in that defensive chain of strongpoints.
The city prospered from the olive industry. Here is one of the original olive presses. It's prosperity is reflected in the architecture.
Broad streets and substantial homes -- only the outlines remain.
The Gate of Antoninus Pius, built in the mid-second century AD to honor the emperor and father [adopted] of Marcus Aurelius.
The Capitoline Temples, honoring Jupiter, Juno and Minerva.
Part of the extensive baths.
Sufetula declined somewhat in the fourth and fifth centuries, and was briefly part of the Vandal kingdom, but then it was reconquered by the Byzantines, who left their mark on the site. This is a Byzantine baptistry.
In the seventh century under the leadership of Prefect Gregory, a local Christian leader, Sufetula attempted to established its independence, but less than a year after escaping Byzantine domination the town was sacked by Arabs who then abandoned the site and left it to sink into ruin.
After spending some time poking around the ruins we again boarded the bus for a short trip down the road to the Kasserine Pass where we visited the memorial to American troops who died in that battle and were treated to an excellent impromptu lecture on the battle and its aftermath by famed military historian Harold Langley who was touring with our group.
Then it was back on the bus and on to our next destination.