The Sousse Archeological Museum is built right into the walls of the Medina, so the rounded spikes of the ancient walled city are all around.
Inside are mosaics and artifacts of the Punic, Roman, Aglabid and Christian times. I like mosaics. I like mosaics, because mosaics are the best.
This here is a naked guy with some ichthyocentaurs. Haven’t seen those around much, have you?
The accompanying text for this one describes a “polychromic shield-like composition, with a whirling effect. In the middle is a theatre scene: a poet, sitting, is holding a parchment; on his right is a tragic mask and on his lef, a box filled with parchment rolls. The second character, leaning on a column and holding a mask, is a comedian.” From mid 3rd century, House of Masks, Sousse.
This next collection is directed at Les D of Nanaimo: next time we come to visit, we would like our hot tub to look like this, please.
Ok, actually, it is a baptism pool (see the cross at the bottom?), but we saw a hot tub kind of like this, but a bit too plain for us, in the palace at the Bardo Museum. We prefer this style. We do not consider it an excess of decoration.
El Jem Amphitheatre
One of the last amphitheatres built in the Roman empire, just as their fortunes were beginning to fade. It could hold about 35000 people, making it the 2nd or 3rd largest in the world, after the Coliseum in Rome. It had moving platforms in the floor of the arena, so that gladiators and wild animals could be hauled up into the middle of the arena to fight. The walls around the arena floor were marble, in part to make it slippery and tricky for the animals to climb up. This kept the wealthiest patrons, seated closest to the floor, safe.
One side has a set of rebuilt seats, to give an idea of what it would have been like (and also, conveniently, to provide seating for the music festivals).
There were three rows of seats, ranked by wealth, and there was a canvas roof to provide shade. In its time, it would have been a big bowl of just seats from this view, like a modern sports stadium. Except it was for the fighting of people and animals.
See the rubble walls that filled the spaces between the rows of arches? (bottom left)
And you can climb everywhere on this ancient structure. Look for 3 kids in the one below, the top right…
Here the kids are sitting on the rubble and cement sloped roof between arches that would have gone under the seats.
It must be so irritating being an archeologist, and then getting frustrated with all the broken bits–what are you supposed to do with them all? We called this the column graveyard. The parking lot was also lined with huge blocks of rock and column bits.
Underground, in the basement. These arches were where the wild animals were kept before they fought. And a fossil shell in the sandstone in the wall.
These triangular holes fit the tip of the pinching tool used to lift and move the stone blocks. You can see them in all the stones.
The arena turns everyone into fighters!
El Jem Museum
On the site of 3 old villas of wealthy families. Here is a mosaic in situ, and a close-up of a bird in it. It must be hard to protect them against weeks growing in them and breaking them up.
This museum had a rebuilt villa, so we could see the courtyard and the dining room and the bedrooms, and frescoes on the walls. Rich loved it there. Do you think it’s weird that the Romans wrote in Latin? It seems reasonable when you think about it, but weird when you see it actually carved on monuments.
Oh, the mosaics.