Mustis

Mustis

Henchir Mist

  • Project name:

    Tunisian–Polish Archaeological Mission to Mustis (el-Krib), Tunisia

    Facebook:

    Mustis Archaeological Project

  • Type of site:

    Ancient town and its rural surroundings

    Location:

    Tunisia
    120 km south-west of Carthage, 12 km south of the ancient town of Thugga (Dougga), in el-Krib (Siliana Governorate)

    Dating:

    – Pre-Roman period (3rd–2nd century BC)
    – Roman period I (1st century BC–2nd century AD)
    – Roman period II (3rd–4th century AD)
    – Vandal period (435–533 AD)
    – Byzantine period (534–698 AD)
    – Islamic period (8th–11th century AD)

Most interesting features of the site:

– Temple of Pluto
– Temple of Apollo
– Temple of Caelestis
– Christian basilica
– Late Roman house
– Byzantine citadel
– Oil press
– More than 500 Latin inscriptions
– Triumphal arch of Emperor Gordian III

History of research:

Research on the site was conducted by the French in the 1930s and by the Tunisian Institut National du Patrimoine in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It concentrated on analyzing selected epigraphic material and uncovering approximately 1 ha of the area of the three temples, a Christian basilica, two houses, three successions of streets and a Byzantine citadel standing on top of an earlier forum. The site has, however, a considerably bigger potential. After a preliminary analysis of drone photographs, we estimate that it covers approximately 34 ha.

Dates of the PCMA mission’s work:

2018–

Type of research:

Excavations
Non-invasive research
Field survey

Directors:

– Tomasz Waliszewski
– Jamel el-Hajj

Co-operating institutions:

– Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology, University of Warsaw
– Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw
– Institut National du Patrimoine (Tunisia)

Additional information:

Mustis has been known to European travelers since the end of the 19th century. Very limited fieldwork was conducted on the site by French and Tunisian researchers between the 1930s and the 1960s. It resulted in a partial reconstruction of the three temples and the city gate. Inscriptions attest the presence of 11 pagan temples. The epigraphic study of local Latin inscriptions has revealed some of the town’s history.

Description of the site and research:

The archaeological site of Mustis lies about 120 km to the south-west of the Tunisian capital, Tunis, near the modern town of el-Krib in the Siliana Governorate. It is only 12 km distant from Thugga (Dougga), one of the largest Roman sites in the province. Mustis is located in the highly urbanized region of Africa Proconsularis, on the main land route leading from Carthage to Theveste in today’s Algeria. Thanks to its advantageous geographical location on a busy communication and trade route and the surrounding fertile land where grain, olives and vines were cultivated, the city and its inhabitants got rich very quickly in the 1st–3rd century AD.

The region was inhabited by Numidian tribes, and the town was presumably founded on the spot of one the pre-Roman Numidian settlements. As a result, at the end of the 2nd century BC, a Roman colony was established here, probably by the veterans who had served under the famous general Marius. The history of the town and the region is virtually unknown, and its reconstruction is fragmentary and hypothetical. The first veterans may have hailed from the area of today’s Bologna.

The urban potential of the town in the Roman period is attested by its large area (more than 34 ha) and the remains of numerous monumental buildings. These include temples of Pluto, Apollo and Ceres, two triumphal arches, Roman baths, a Byzantine citadel built on the spot of the old forum using stones from the earlier structure which bear at least 300 Latin inscriptions from the Roman period, a Christian basilica (4th/5th century AD?), a town square, a commercial street with many shops on both sides, and at least two Roman houses. The function of numerous other architectural structures has not been yet determined. Just like the other sites in Africa Proconsularis, the town declined in the 5th and the beginning of the 6th century AD as a result of the raids and the subsequent presence of the Vandals. Mustis existed until the Islamic raids, although on a much smaller scale. The Arab presence on the site was very ephemeral; it lasted until the 12th century and is evidenced only by small finds.

Other resources about the mission:
Project bibliography:

Select site bibliography:

Beschaouch, A. (2014). Municipium Iulium Aurelium Mustitanum : de Tibère à Marc Aurèle, l’histoire Municipale de Mustis, cité romaine de Tunisie. Paris

Schmidt, M. G. (2008). Walking in Mustis. Monumentale Versinschriften einer afrikanischen Stadt im urbanen Kontext. In Literatura epigráfica: estudios dedicados a Gabriel Sanders (pp. 309–321). Valencia

Beschaouch, A. (2005). Un témoignage sur la prospérité de l’Afrique proconsulaire au milieu du IVe siècle: le forum transitorium aménagé à Mustis sous Magnence et Décence, Comptes rendus des séances de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 1071–1084

Ferchiou, N. (1992–1993). L’arc double à trois baies de Mustis, Africa, 11–12, 277–363

Ferchiou, N. (1986). Niveaux numides découverts à Mustis, REPPAL, 2, 277–288

Ferchiou, N. (1985). L’arc de Gordien III à Mustis (Le Krib) – Tunisie, Africa, 9, 95–140

Beschaouch, A. (1967–1968). Mustitana 1. Recueil des nouvelles inscriptions de Mustis, cité romaine de Tunisie, Karthago, 14, 117–224

Beschaouch, A. (1967). Municipium Iulium Aurelium Mustitanum, Cahiers de Tunisie, 15, 85–102, pl. I–II

Poinssot, L. (1933). Une inscription de Musti contemporaine de Magnence, Comptes rendus des séances de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 21–24

Poinssot, L. (1930–1931). Fouilles opérées à Musti en Tunisie (temple, inscriptions romaines), Bulletin archéologique du Comité des travaux historiques et scientifiques, 362–374

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