Punic Town of Kerkuane and its Necropolis

Punic Town of Kerkuane and its Necropolis

This Phoenician city was probably abandoned during the First Punic War (c. 250 B.C.) and as a result was not rebuilt by the Romans. The remains constitute the only example of a Phoenicio-Punic city to have survived. The houses were built to a standard plan in accordance with a sophisticated notion of town planning.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Cité punique de Kerkouane et sa nécropole

Cette cité phénicienne, sans doute abandonnée pendant la première guerre punique (vers 250 av. J.-C.), et n'ayant de ce fait pas été reconstruite par les Romains, nous offre les seuls vestiges d'une ville phénico-punique qui ait subsisté. Ses maisons ont été construites selon un plan type, suivant un modèle d'urbanisme très élaboré.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

مدينة كركوان البونيقية ومقبرتها

هذه المدينة الفينيقية التي هجّرت دون شك خلال الحرب البونيقية الاولى (حولى سنة 250 قبل الميلاد) والتي لم يعد الرومان بناءها تتضمن الآثار الوحيدة لمدينة فينيقية بونيقية متبقية، وقد تم تشييد بيوت هذه المدينة حسب مخطط نموذجي يعتمد اسلوباً متطوراً جداً في التنظيم المدني.

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0



source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Пунический город Керкуан и его некрополь

Этот финикийский город был, вероятно, покинут жителями еще во время Первой пунической войны (около 250 г. до н.э.), и впоследствии так и не был восстановлен древними римлянами. Его руины представляют собой единственное дошедшее до нас свидетельство о финикийско-пуническом городе, где дома были построены по единому плану в соответствии с наиболее развитыми взглядами на градостроительство того времени.

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Ciudad púnica de Kerkuán y su necrópolis

Esta ciudad fenicia fue abandonada al parecer durante la primera guerra púnica, hacia el año 250 a.C., y el hecho de que no hubiese sido reconstruida por los romanos se debe probablemente a esto. Sus vestigios son los únicos existentes de una ciudad fenicio-púnica. Las casas de Kerkuán se construyeron con arreglo a un plano estándar, elaborado en función de una concepción de la planificación urbanística muy perfeccionada.

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0


source: NFUAJ

Punische stad Kerkouane en haar necropolis

Deze Fenicische stad werd waarschijnlijk tijdens de Eerste Punische Oorlog (circa 250 voor Christus) verlaten en daarom later niet meer herbouwd door de Romeinen. De huizen van de stad waren gebouwd volgens een standaardplan dat berustte op een verfijnde opvatting van ruimtelijke ordening. De necropolis van Arg el Ghazouani, gelegen op een rotsachtige heuvel minder dan een kilometer van de stad, is een waardevolle getuigenis van Punische funeraire architectuur. Deze necropolis is het best bewaarde deel van de grote necropolis van Kerkouane,waar de graven verspreid liggen over de kustheuvels op het puntje van Cap Bon.

Source: unesco.nl

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Punic Town of Kerkuane and its Necropolis (Tunisia) © Editions Gelbart
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

The Punic Town of Kerkuane, located at the tip of Cape Bon on a cliff that dominates the sea, bears exceptional witness to Phoenician-Punic town planning.  Contrary to what took place in Carthage, Tyre or Byblos, no Roman city was built on this Phoenician city, and its port, ramparts, residential districts, shops, workshops, streets, squares, temples and necropolis clearly remain as they were in the 3rd century BC.  The site of the Punic Town of Kerkuane was discovered in 1952. Excavations were carried out by the National Institute of Archaeology and Art.  The earliest known testimonies at the site would date back to the 6th century BC ; whereas the ruins, today visible at the site, date back to the end of the 4th, first half of the 3rd century BC and bear witness to sophisticated town planning.

The Necropolis of Arg el Ghazouani, located on a rocky hill less than one kilometer from the town, bears invaluable witness to Punic funerary architecture of this period; it concerns the most well preserved portion of the great necropolis of Kerkuane, the tombs of which are scattered throughout the coastal hills at the tip of Cap Bon.

Criterion (iii): The Punic Town of Kerkuane, never reinhabited since it was abandoned towards the middle of the 3rd century BC, bears exceptional witness to Phoenician-Punic town planning.  This is the unique known Punic city in the Mediterranean harbouring a mine of information on town planning (development of space respecting a pre-established general plan: wide and fairly straight streets form a checkerboard network, the squares of which are filled with the insulae) and architecture (defence, domestic, religious, artisanal structures, construction techniques and materials). Based on the data discovered, the archaeologist is able to trace the profile of a Punic city as it was between the 6th and the middle of the 3rd century BC.  The discovery of Kerkuane contributes considerably towards improved knowledge of Phoenician-Punic sites in the Mediterranean.


The Punic Town of Kerkuane has preserved all its architectural and town planning components, which are located at the boundary of the property. Following its destruction by Regulus around 255 BC, the town was abandoned and, contrary to other Punic cities which after the fall of the Carthaginian metropolis, were Romanised and lost their Punic features, Kerkuane was never reinhabited.  The integrity is threatened by sea erosion.  The presence of a modern supporting wall on the cliff side aims at slowing down erosion of the site and preserving its integrity.  As concerns the Necropolis of Arg el Ghazouani, the boundaries of this sector contain the most well preserved part of the great necropolis of Kerkuane.


The « punicity » of Kerkuane is perfectly reflected in the architecture, town planning, life style (it appears to have been largely city-dwellers), the socio-economic life (diversity and wealth of economic activity), as well as some religious and funerary practices.  The functional relationship of the two portions of the property, the city and its necropolis, must also be perceived in visual terms.

Protection and management requirements

The property is protected by the Law 35-1994 concerning the protection of the archaeological and historical heritage as well as the traditional arts. The property, State-owned, is managed by the National Heritage Institute (INP) which is responsible for the application of the Heritage Code.  The enhancement of the site is the responsibility of the Agency for Heritage Presentation.  A team attached to the INP is responsible for its safeguard and daily management.  A supporting wall has been built against the cliff to counter the negative effect of undertow on the vestiges.  The necropolis is enclosed and a permanent guard is maintained.  Archaeological excavations as well as safeguarding (restoration) of the monuments are planned.  A buffer zone which shall be submitted for control by the INP is being studied.  Its boundary should enable the integration of the two elements of the inscribed property and the administrative and regulatory measures for its management should be defined.