2014年2月28日 星期五

Tunisian Tour. 9 - Sbeitla (突尼西亞之旅.9--斯貝特拉)


The following morning, we were taken to another Roman ruins in Sbeitla, a small town 264 km north-central of Tunis, quite close to the Roman ruins of Sufetula,with the best preserved Forum temples in Tunisia. It was the entry point of the Muslim conquest of North Africa and southern Europe. There are still some Punic megaliths and funeral stela there.Sbeitla was first occupied by the nomadic Berber tribes until the Roman Emperor Legio III Augusta established a camp at Ammaedara but it only came under complete Roman control between 67 to 69 CE during the reign of Emperor Vespasian. During the 2nd century, it grew quite prosperous from its olive oil production facilities. Some olive presses could still be seen in the ruins there. However its suffered serious setbacks from the Vandal invasios during the late Roman Empire period, as evidenced by temples dedicated to Germanic gods. But with the arrival of the Byzantines, recovered its prosperity. In 647, it came under Muslim control when Rashidun Caliphate governor of Egypt Abdullah ibn Saad defeated Gregory the Patrician.

A small town we passed through on our way

Another one

Yet another one

It was palm country

 The Gafsa Palace Hotel where we had our lunch on the way to Sbeitla

part of the hotel 

its lobby

Oranges for the picking at its parking lot

Minarets everywhere we went: with its typical Tunisian square tower

This is the site of the ruins we would be visiting, forming part of the "Parc archaeologique de Sbeitla"

 The entrance to the ticketing office of "Le Capitole" for buying photographic tickets to the archeological park.

Very little is left biw: the entire site seems overgrown with grass and weeds

We were told that there used to be Roman churches, olive oil presses, public baths and an amphitheatre there.

The  site of the a former Christian church.

Another view of the same

Water was brought there from the nearby hills by aqueducts. But such acqueducts are all gone now. But one sees still the local conduits for such water.

This is the Roman amphitheatre: here one can well imagine how once upon a time the rich young cowardly love-struck young adulescens in a dark wig and crimson toga bemoaned his fate at the brothel run by the bald leno, scurrying about between his girls and his clients, a moneybag under his arm and how the adulesscens' miserly father, who loved too many and too much, walking around in his long white double sleeves being dragged away from his latest love by his irate wife from the same woman beloved by his son whose favors are sought too by the self-important miles gloriosus with his curly hair and long-sleeve tunic, seeing himself as both handsome and brave and handsome but in reality stupid, cowardly and gullible, talking from time to time to parasitus in his long, black garment lying to get a meal or other favors from miles gloriosus and the clever and talkative servus callidus (clever slave) in his tunic doing his monologues there or talking to the gossiping  ancilla  (a maid or nurse) or the shrewd but temperamental matrona (mother), mulier (woman), or uxor (wife) who adored children and also the attractive  meretrix (prostitute) with her complex hairdo and yellow dresses falling in love with the adulescens and vying for his attention with the beautiful and virtuous virgo (young maiden) in one of the comedies written by the Roman dramatist Plautus.

Another view of the amphitheatre

These buildings used to be the Roman bath once frequented by the Roman soldiers, the sailors, olive oil or palm date or pottery, metal ware or garment merchants or the local residents, whether young or old.

beautiful mosaic tiles on the floor are what's left.

The patterns of mosaics on the floor

A closer view of the different patterns on the floor

This would probably house the "palestre" for training the minds of the youths there.

The site of the former gynasium for training the body of the young usually built around the public baths

The site of a former olive oil workshop. We see the basin on the left of the photo.

More of the buildings around the public baths

The buildings in the background far off are the temples built by the Romans

This used to be where the olive oil was processed

Another grindstone

This is the site of a Byzantium church dedicated to St. Gervais Protais and St. Tryphon

A storage tank or a bath?

This is the heart of the former Roman town with its heated public baths, theatre, fountains, the city adminstration building, churches, residence of the bishop and ordinary citizen and their shops.

A former residence once stood here

Part of the former Roman town

A closer view of the same

This is the reservoir which served this town, formerly covered over by a vault.

Along this path, you find rows and rows of houses

Some of the houses were connected to each other by bridges

The former town hall?

The site of another church

All that remains of the walls

This used to be a baptismal font

Its rim is decorated with very elaborate mosaics

The sign of the cross can be seen quite clearly even after so many centuries. The church in those days was the Eastern Orthodox Church centred on Constantinople

The pedestal to the former columns of the church

One can see that some of the houses are larger and more imposing than the others

Another view of the rows of houses and shops close to the church

This used to be chapel of Bishop Bollatar and Septitere

What's left of the former Byzantine Church

A view of the three temples for Athena, Zeus and Hera from the entrance gate

The temple on the left is dedicated to Athena, the temple in the middle to Zeus, and one on the right is dedicated to Hera, the wife of Zeus, all built around 2nd century CE.

The same three temples from another angle 

The arches joining the temple of Athena and that of Zeus

 Similar arches between the temple of Zeus and that of Hera

 The capital at the foot of the temple of Hera

More capitals

Latin inscription at the foot of the temples

The temple of Athena, the goddess of purity, learning, knowledge, wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice, just warfare, mathematics, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill , her Roman counterpart being Minerva. Plato identified her with with the Egyptian deity Neith,worshiped at the delta city of Sais as the founder of that city.  She was also thought to represents intelligence, eloquence and power, of humility, consciousness, cosmic knowledge, creativity, education, enlightenment and of the the arts.

The temple of Zeus: the "Father of Gods and men" who rules over all the Olympians gods, the god of the sky and of thunder and was the equivalent of the Roman god Jupiter. He married his sister Hera although at the oracle of Dodona, his consort is Dione. His symbols are the thunderbolt, eagle, bull, and oak. 

The temple to Hera, one of three sisters of Zeus in the Olympian pantheon of Greek mythology and religion, the protector of women, marriage and fertility and her counterpart in religion of ancient Rome was Juno with the cow, the lion and the peacock as her symbols. Traditionally, the right hand is the position of honour. But of the three temples, this one is now in the poorest condition, everything practically gone.


The entrance gate to the temples, built at 139 CE. The temple of Zeus can be seen below the central arch

The three temples from a farther perspective

The temple of Athena and that of Zeus and the entrance from a distance

The pillars have now become nothing but a receptacle for dead leaves and branches.

There are many entrances to the 3 temples  

Looking out from the courtyard of the 3 temples

The broken down columns are placed on the foot of the remaining walls

 Buildings surrounding the temples

a stele with a a logo found there

At the lower left of the building, one can see another mill stone for olive oil

Judging from what could still be seen, the houses of the ordinary folks in those days were not too big

The houses and shops are all arranged in straight lines

Some of the pillars are still standing

 some of the pillars were built with stone blocks piled one on top of another whilst others were marble columns

The site of another public building?

This is the site of a 4th century Roman fountain

This is a fortified house in Roman times in the 4th century, destroyed in the 9th century by the Ottoman Turks

The present state  of some of the former residences

nothing but broken and weathered rocks

The only things which continue to thrive are the palms and bushes

Our path back to the entrance

 The closer to the entrance the better it looked

By the time we got back to the hotel, it was already dusk, more beautiful than whatever can be fashioned by the hands of man: its variety, its delicacy, its intricacy and its ability to take on different appearances, in short the miracle of things which got life in them. .