Amphitheatre of El Jem

Background:

  • Located in Tunisia
  • 1979
  • Criteria: iv-to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architechtural or technological ensemble or landscape which illusstrates (a)significant stage(s) in human history. vi- to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artisitc and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this is criterion should be used in conjunction with other criteria)
  • 6 other Cultural Sites and 0 Mixed Heritage Sites

Basic Archaeological Site information:

  • 1.37 ha, the Amphitheatre itself is 138 m long by 114 m wide
  • built in the 1st half of the 3rd century
  • from the Roman Empire, illustrates the grandeur and influence of the Roman Empire at this time
  • This site is associated with the Roman Empire and the Roman world at that time period

Archaelogical Summary:

The construction of this amphitheatre was commenced in 238 by Gordius I and was never totally completed for political and financial reasons; despite this is was used anyways. At the time the town was known as Thysdrus and was very prosperous especially during the rule of Emperor Hadrian when they became a main producer of oliv oil.

The amphitheatre had two tunnels underneath it for the transport and storage of gladiators and animals. It is a complex and well preserved site, eliptical in form and could hold most likely hold around 30,000 people, some estimate as many as 45,000 people.

Threats/Status:

This site is not in danger, none of the sites, natural or cultural, in Tunisia are on the “In Danger” list.

Links/Media:

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/38

http://www.tunisia.com/tunisia/travel/tunisia-travel-guides/central-tunisia/el-jem

Additional Information/Fun Facts:

  • It’s the third largest Roman amphitheatre
  • The amphitheatre was used as a defensive structure for centuries, it was the last Berber defense against Arab invaders
  • One of the walls is missing, it was blown to pieces in the 17th century by the ruling Turks.
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