or Bab Khaled Tunisia.
is situated halfway between Tunis and Zaghouan, on the
road that runs along the foot of the mountain of the
same name. Occupying a spur on the NE side of the
mountain, it dominates the surrounding valley. The reason for the settlement and for the various appurtenances
of this ancient watering place, not yet identified, is to be
found in the healing qualities of its hot spring. The bath
complex is well preserved. It consists essentially of a
great rectangular hall surrounded by columns (still
standing) and a circular room with a pool ringed by 10
columns, six of which still had their capitals when excavations were begun in 1907. The baths were made up
of rooms and pools (a third one is rectangular) designed
for bathing, as well as their annexes, designed for healing and lodging.
The spring that fed the baths flowed at the bottom of a
grotto designed before the baths were erected. Above it
is a tripartite building for worship, dedicated to the healing gods. Heads of statues of Aesculapius and Hygiea
were found there in the Christian era when the sanctuary was taken over as a baptistery of a church with three
naves surrounded by a necropolis.
The bath building itself was occupied for a long period,
as can be seen from the many examples of rebuilding
and enlargements of the architecture, construction, and
decoration; changes are especially apparent in the
mosaic floors. A stylistic study of the mosaics enabled
the excavator to set up a chronology beginning in the
middle of the 2d c. and resuming, after a gap in the 5th
c., in the Byzantine period. Essentially local, the design
of these mosaics is geometric or floral, and polychrome.
The only floor decorated with figures is one with square
emblemata, four of which contain busts of the seasons.
Some statues, in particular of Aesculapius, Mercury, and
Hygiea, and a small bust of Mercury, have been found
as well as some architectural fragments, including Tuscan
Aside from these main buildings, a number of hydraulic monuments were scattered over the site. Among them
were two large reservoirs on the hillside. Almost identical (30 x 30 m), they were joined together by a conduit.
Three hundred m E, down river, is a complex of public cisterns. These consisted of a series of seven rectangular compartments built of rubble and measuring 4.5 m x
12 m, extended thereafter to a length of 20 m. In front
of them is a large basin 30 m square which served to
pipe off the waters. It was fed by water collected on the
A little sanctuary, noted for its remains, now at the
Bardo Museum in Tunis, was discovered on the side of
a hill overlooking the ruins. Excavations in 1907 uncovered a paved vestibule as well as some small rooms paved
with white mosaic with a design of red crosses throughout (IMT
464). A small stela was found with an inscription which, when deciphered, made it possible to identify
the sanctuary as that of Mercury Silvanus. The excavators also noted a number of potters' kilns. The sherds
from these filled a whole quarter of the city.
M. Fendri, “Evolution chronologique et
stylistique d'un ensemble de mosaiques dans la station
thermale de Jebel-Oust,” Mosaique greco-romaine