The archaeological site of Mactaris, a vestige of ancient Mactaris, is an archaeological site in central-western Tunisia, located in Makthar, a city on the northern edge of the Tunisian ridge.
The site is one of the most extensive in Tunisia, and a large part has not yet been the subject of archaeological research, the situation being comparable to the site of Bulla Regia. The relative remoteness of the region and difficult integration into communication networks may be some of the reasons.
In addition to the many remains it houses within an archaeological park, only a few scattered elements being excluded, a small museum presents various archaeological pieces found on the site.
The site is located on the border between the northwest and the center-west of Tunisia, 150 kilometers southwest of Carthage and 70 kilometers southeast of Sicca Veneria.
The site adjoins the city of Makthar which is, in a way, a late outgrowth of it, from the colonial period, as evidenced by some buildings (such as the headquarters of the delegation) or residences with sloping roofs covered with red tiles.
Mactaris is the Latin transposition of the initial toponym: Mktrm, which testifies to the Libyan origins of the city, as evidenced by the large number of funerary monuments dating back to this civilization and which are inserted in the site. This is about all that remains of this period I as a “monumental” legacy.
The foundation of the city itself seems to date back to the 1st century BC, with the installation of Punic or Punicized Numidian settlers who spread the religion, culture and arts of Carthage in the region, and this in a sustainable way. This city remained even after the arrival of the Romans, at the very beginning of the 1st century. It is, however, to the Roman period that the main part of an archaeological heritage considered as one of the richest and most beautiful in Tunisia is attached. The city reached its peak in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Its decline began in the 4th century and precipitated with the Vandal and Byzantine invasions.
A monumental gate, which stands today at the entrance to the modern city, welcomes the visitor. On the other side of the road, the site itself is surrounded by a fence. Behind, all the monuments that make up a Roman city, most of them in a good state of preservation: amphitheater, baths (4, in all), forum crowned by an imposing triumphal arch dedicated to Trajan, temples, basilicas, crypts, mausoleums … etc…