Big old Roman city

Dougga Travel Blog

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It is about time to leave the big city and get out and see some of the smaller places in the country side. I head for Dugga which used to house an old roman city. The city of Dugga were initially settled by the Nubians back four thousand years ago. The settlement was supported by a natural spring nearby securing an adequate water supply. Later the city was absorbed by the new rulers of the area the Phoenicians from Carthage.


When the Nubian supported the Romans during the second Punic war they won their independence from Carthage and they kept this freedom up until they ended up backing the losing side in the civil wars of Rome leading up to Julius Cesar’s rise to power. After this the Romans took over the city and put their traditional mark on the city. With a theatre, forum and bath plus numerous temples.


The theatre is unusually large with about 3.500 seats for a city which only had 5.000 inhabitants. This is a much higher ration of theatre seat to the total population of the city which used to be 1:3-5 in other old Roman cities. Hence I have a feeling they might have made a mistake in the estimate of the population of the city and it might have been much higher than the 5.000. But in general the theatre are in pretty good shape with the seat in fairly good condition and the stage still having some of the old columns standing very tall. Apparently the theatre used to be topped with some sort of dome which is quite unusual - unfortunately there are no signs of this today.


Even though these are one of the most important archaeological sites of the country the locals are still treating it as sort of their own property where they can come and go as they pleases. When walking from the theatre towards the forum and capitol a young boy rides by on his donkey carrying water. I get to the capitol of the city. The capitol is in pretty good shape it has undergone some renovation but the work has been fairly good giving a good presentation of the old building. It is standing out of the area with its tall columns in front of the main building. At the back of the building are some big spaces where there used to be giant statues of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva - but there are nothing left of these today.


Walking along I pass a few temples and then get to the bath of the city. It is pretty big though not nearly the size of the bath in Carthage - this city was a lot smaller after all. The walls are still standing and in one of the bath rooms are still a bit of the old mosaic on the floor. You get out of the bath walking through some of the underground halls where the slaves operating the facility must have used to run back and forth with the woods for fires to heat up the caldarium.


From the bath it is a short walk to the Trifolium House which is marked by a tiny little carving of a feather in front of the house. The house was a huge attraction for traders from other cities and locals who came here to seek the company inside the large house of the ladies of the night.


Just next to the whore house is another place which could attract a crowd for a somewhat different reason. A small latrine with 12 places so the people of the city could meet and debate the resent political development in an informal setting.


I make my way back to the entrance on high on top of the track I am walking stands a lonely donkey tied by a rope and looks out over the ruins to spot the green grass in the horizon wondering what all those strange tourist are doing walking through its neighborhood.

tj1777 says:
There was a few other people - I just tried to take care with the photos to give the illusion of loneliness.
Posted on: Jan 19, 2010
Chokk says:
Looks like you were there all alone; great read as usual
Posted on: Jan 18, 2010
sylviandavid says:
I love that a feather was the symbol for a house of ill-repute.... (whore house) ... Mickey,... great read: you look for the same things we do..... sylvia
Posted on: Jan 06, 2010
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Dougga Sights & Attractions review
Ancient city of Dougga
The ancient city of Dougga is one of the best preserved minor Roman era cities still in existence in northern Africa. The main part of the city with t… read entire review
photo by: pbug31