Djerba is an island of 514 km2 (25 kilometers by 20 kilometers of coastline and 150) located southeast of the Gulf of Gabès2 and blocking the entrance to the Gulf of Boughrara, southeast of Tunisia. It is the largest island of the coast of North Africa. Its main town, Houmt Souk, alone accounts for 42 992 163 726 Djerbiens1.Ulysse would have crossed the Carthaginians founded several counters, the Romans built several cities and there developed agriculture and trade port. Passed successively under domination Vandal, Byzantine and Arabic, Djerba has become since 1960 a popular tourist destination. It remains marked both by the persistence of one of the last Tunisian Berber dialects, joining Ibadism a portion of its Muslim population and the presence of a Jewish community which traces the tradition came to the destruction of the Temple of Solomon.
The island is connected to the mainland, to the southwest by a ferry that leads to Ajim in Jorf and southeast by a route of seven kilometers, of which the first construction dates back to the late third century BC. Christ, between the town of El Kantara and the peninsula of Zarzis.
February 17, 2012, the Tunisian government offers Djerba for future ranking on the list of World Heritage UNESCO3.
Since ancient times, historians mention Djerba they identify to the first island in the Odyssey, Homer wrecked Odysseus and his companions, lost at sea returning from the Trojan War (around 1185 BC. J.- C.) 11; to have tasted the bingo, “sweet as honey fruit that immerses all who tasted deliciously of blessed oblivion which erases all the worries of life,” Ulysses, “that this miraculous fruit would have plunged into a happy amnesia “12, hardly leaving the island of the lotus eaters (lotus eaters) 13.
At the dawn of history, the territory of present Tunisia is populated by Berbers in néolithique14 lifestyle. Several experts, including Lucien Bertholon15 and Stéphane Gsell16, admit the existence of migration between the Aegean Sea and the Gulf of Sirte, which is Djerba, during the second millennium BC. AD .. Even before the founding of Carthage in the ninth century BC. BC, the Phoenicians of Tyre have established several trading posts along the coast of Libya and Tunisia to present Utica. Djerba was probably part. The Periplus of Pseudo-Scylax, dating back approximately to the middle of the fourth century BC. AD gives the island the oldest indications, except those of Homer:
“We made a lot of oil there, which draws from the wild olive; the island also produces a lot of fruit, wheat, barley, land is fertile8. ”
Local tradition, in its current version, reports that the first Jews had settled in Djerba after the destruction by the emperor Nebuchadnezzar II in 586 BC. BC, the Temple of Salomon17, a door would have been incorporated into the jewish synagogue.
view overlooking a cavity in the floor opening onto the rooms housing the Punic tombs.
Punic tombs in Souk El Guebli
According Gsell, at the time, “Djerba certainly depended on Carthage.” The Carthaginians founded several counters, the biggest being Meninx, on the southeast coast of the island, they transform into top place to exchange the Mediterranean basin, there landscaping ports for their boats and using it as a stopover in their course of Méditerranée18. Besides the cultivation of olive trees, the Carthaginian island is home to several pottery workshops, several fisheries, and develops purple dye made from Murex, is famous for île11. Important bridge to the African continent, Djerba and knows more than a half a millennium of prosperity with the Phoenicians.
The first contacts with the island Romans held during the First Punic War, during operations that they are waging against Carthage. The first real naval expedition commanded by Gnaeus Servilius Caepio and Caius Sempronius Blaesus, is sent to Djerba in 253 BC. J. C.19. A second, commanded by the consul Gnaeus Servilius Geminus, was launched in 217 BC. BC, during the Second Punic War, the year of the Battle of Lake Trasimeno fought between the Carthaginians and Romans in Italy.
stone mound marking the location of a mausolée.Mausolée Bourgou Midoun
Baptistery placed on the ground in a hall of the National Museum of Bardo.Baptistère El Kantara
However, “it was only in the year 6 AD. AD, after the phase of protectorates over the Berber princes, the reges inservientes, begins the direct settlement in the area syrtique. “20 We know that while the island has two cities and Meninx Thoar. It houses thereafter three major urban centers. One of them, whose modern name is Henchir Bourgou, was discovered near Midoun in the center of the island: there are the remains – called “Rocks Bourgou” – a large city dating the fourth century BC. BC, marked by the presence of abundant pottery and an imposing mausoleum probably belonging to a member of a royal family Numidian. A second center on the southeast coast, is a production site based dyes Murex, quoted by Pliny the Elder as occupying the second place in this area behind the city of Tyre, substantial amounts of colored marble discoveries on site testify to its wealth. The third major center, probably former Haribus, is located on the southern coast near the village of Guellala.
Two Roman emperors, Trebonianus Gallus and his son Volusien are natives of Djerba. A Roman decree of the year 254, shortly after their death, mentions the island in the expression Creati in insula quae nunc Meninge Girba dicitur: this is the first known record of the use of the name Girba21. In the middle of the third century, a basilica was built in what was then the bishop of Girba. Two of the island’s bishops left their names in history: Monnulus and Vincent, who respectively attend councils of Carthage 255 and 52522. The ruins of their cathedral can be identified near El Kantara, in the South -West the island, from which a beautiful cruciform baptistery in the National Bardo museum in Tunis4.
Archaeological surveys carried out between 1996 and 2000 under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania, the American Academy in Rome and the National Heritage Institute revealed 250 archaeological sites including many Punic and romaines23 villas.
After the Romans, Djerba is invaded by the Vandals and then by the Byzantines. It was in 665 that she fell to the Arabs led by Thabit ibn Ruwayfa Al Ansari, a companion of the Prophet Muhammad, during Byzacena campaign commanded by Muawiya bin Hudaydj. The island is then witnessed fighting between Muslim factions and eventually rallied to the party of kharidjites24.