A city of the Tunisian High-Tell, located 160 kilometers from Carthage, on a plateau rising more than 900 meters above sea level, the ancient Mactaris was created at the end of the 5th century BC, under the Numidian kingdom, but the megalithic tombs around the site bear witness to a more ancient human presence. By welcoming survivors of the third armed confrontation between Carthaginians and Romans, the famous Punic Wars, Mactaris became the symbol of the alliance of the Numidian and Punic "cultures".
Under Roman domination, it retained its autonomy with a constitution modeled on that of Punic Carthage. It was a colony under the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius between 176 and 180 B.C. The town was the capital of an administrative district to which 64 towns located within the ThuscaePagus and the GunzuziPagus,were attached:
Christianity is attested to in the 3rd century, and the city became Vandal from 439 onwards. Due to its strategic position, the city became a key point of the defensive military system decided upon in 533 by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian.
Life continued hereafter the Arab-Muslim conquest in the mid-7th century until the Hilalian invasions of the 11th century.
They are divided into four main sectors:
-The Forum, a triumphal arch dedicated to Emperor Trajan (2nd century), the remains of a market, a Christian church, a baptistery, and a little further south the public baths fortified under the Byzantines.
-To the west, not far from the megalithic tombs, another church was built on the "schola des juvenes", the meeting place of a paramilitary association (1st century). Then a circular building with counters and troughs for the collection of taxes in kind (4th century) and the mausoleum of Julia Benenata.
-To the north-west, a third church was installed in the cold room of the disused Roman baths. A pagan temple and a paved esplanade have been identified in the surroundings, perhaps the Numidian forum!
-To the North, a small amphitheater and a fourth church built on a temple dedicated to Saturn, a major deity of ancient Africa. Finally, the triumphal arch ( currentlyBab el Aïn) opposite the museum is built on the Punic Tophet.