On the shores of the Mediterranean, Tipasa was an ancient Punic trading-post conquered by Rome and turned into a strategic base for the conquest of the kingdoms of Mauritania. It comprises a unique group of Phoenician, Roman, palaeochristian and Byzantine ruins alongside indigenous monuments such as the Kbor er Roumia, the great royal mausoleum of Mauretania.
Outstanding Universal Value
Tipasa is located 70 km west of Algiers. It is a serial property comprising three sites: two archaeological parks located in the vicinity of the present urban complex and the Royal Mauritanian Mausoleum, on the west Sahel plateau of Algiers, at 11 km south-east of Tipasa.
The archaeological site of Tipasa regroups one of the most extraordinary archaeological complexes of the Maghreb, and perhaps one which is most significant to the study of the contacts between the indigenous civilizations and the different waves of colonization from the 6th century B.C. to the 6th century A.D. This coastal city was first a Carthaginian trading centre, whose necropolis is one of the oldest and one of the most extensive of the Punic world (6th to 2nd century B.C.). During this period, Tipasa played the role of a maritime port of call, a place for commercial exchanges with the indigenous population. Numerous necropolis testify to the very varied types of burial and funerary practices that bear witness to the multicultural exchange of influences dating back to protohistoric times. The monumental, circular funerary building, called the Royal Mauritanian Mausoleum, associates a local architectural tradition of the basina type, to a style of stepped truncated roof covering, the result of the different contributions, notably Hellenistic and Pharaonic.
The Roman period is marked by a prestigious ensemble of buildings, comprising very diversified architectural typologies. From the 3rd to the 4th centuries A.D. a striking increase in Christianity is demonstrated by the multitude of religious buildings. Some are decorated with high quality mosaic pavings, illustrating scenes from daily life, or geometric patterns. The Vandal invasion of the 430's did not mark the definitive end of prosperity of Tipasa, but the town, reconquered by the Byzantines in 531, gradually fell into decline from the 6th century.
Criterion (iii): Tipasa bears exceptional testimony to the Punic and Roman civilizations now disappeared.
Criterion (iv): The architectural and archaeological vestiges of Tipasa reflect in a significant manner the contacts between the indigenous civilizations and the Punic and Roman waves of colonization between the 6th century B.C. and the 6th century A.D.
The boundary for the three sites has been clarified and approved by the World Heritage Committee (Decision 33 COM 8D, 2009). It includes the ensemble of vestiges that bear witness to the exceptional town-planning, architectural, historic and archaeological values of the property. The property is vulnerable due to the impact from urban development, unregulated tourism and population growth.
The town-planning and architectural attributes, the decoration and construction materials, all retain their original aspect that express the values, as defined at the time of inscription of the property. However, they are vulnerable through lack of conservation, encroachment of the vegetation, illegal grazing and uncontrolled visitor access.
Protection and management requirements (2009)
The legal and management framework of this property includes Laws 90-30 (regional law), 98-04 (concerning protection of cultural heritage), the Permanent Safeguarding and Presentation Plan of the site (PPSMV), the Ground Occupation Plan approved by the communal assembly of Tipasa (POS) and the Protection and Presentation Plan of archaeological sites and their buffer zone (PPMVSA), under preparation codified by executive decree N° 324-2003. A new establishment, the Office of Management and Exploitation of Cultural Properties, in coordination with the Directorate for Culture of the Wilaya (province) now manages the archaeological sites of Tipasa.
Tipasa comprises a unique group of Phoenician, Roman, palaeo-Christian and Byzantine ruins alongside indigenous monuments such as the Kbor er Roumia, the great royal mausoleum of Mauritania.
The site of Tipasa, on the Mediterranean coast 70 km west of Algiers, brings together one of the most extraordinary archaeological complexes of the Maghreb; it is perhaps the one that is most significant to the study of the contacts between the indigenous civilizations and various waves of colonization from the 6th century BC to the 6th century AD. This coastal city was first a Carthaginian trading centre, whose cemetery is one of the most extensive of the Phoenician world (6th-2nd centuries BC). It was then conquered by the Romans who used it as a base from which to conquer the Mauritanian kingdoms.
The oldest Roman settlement is located in the centre of the city on a steep slope protected by cliffs and by a rudimentary defensive wall. In AD 147, at the time of the war undertaken by Antoninus Pius against the Mauritanians, this modest settlement was enclosed by a wall, 2,300 m in length. This rampart, which is flanked by square and circular towers, includes three main entrances, two of which are protected by semi-circular fortified defensive works comparable with those found in Gaul and Germany. Within this enclosure there are important buildings situated both in the original core of the city and in its new quarters: the forum, the curia, the capitolium, two temples, an amphitheatre, a nymphaeum, a theatre and baths.
The impressive ruins of the civic buildings are set in the heart of a dense network of private houses (many decorated with paintings and mosaics), commercial warehouses, and industrial establishments of the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Christianity was established in the city in the second half of the 3rd century(Tipasa later became a bishopric) and there are numerous Christian religious buildings. The immense 4th-century seven-aisled basilica, the central aisle of which was later subdivided, and a baptistry based on a circular plan, were located intra muros to the west on the hill of Ras Knissia.
Beyond the enceinte, a vast Christian cemetery spreads out around a funerary chapel which Bishop Alexander constructed as a resting place for his predecessor. Across to the east are the Basilica of St Peter and St Paul, and on the hill of St Salsa are to be found the tomb and the church dedicated to this martyr, which became the object of a pilgrimage around which another cemetery developed.
The Vandal invasion of the 430s did not mark the definitive end of Tipasa's prosperity, but although the city was reconquered by the Byzantines in 534, it fell into a decline in the 6th century from which it never recovered.Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC