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Coordinates: 36°33′31″N 8°45′18″E / 36.558668°N 8.754987°E / 36.558668; 8.754987

Mosaic from the House of Amphitrite, Bulla Regia

Bulla Regia is an archaeological site in northwestern Tunisia, a former Roman city near modern Jendouba. It is noted for its Hadrianic-era semi-subterranean housing, a protection from the fierce heat and effects of the sun. Many of the mosaic floors have been left in situ; others may be seen at the Bardo Museum, Tunis. There is also a small museum connected with the site.


In the unique domus architecture developed in the city, a ground-level storey, open to the warming winter sun, stood above a subterranean level, built round a two-story atrium. Open-bottomed terracotta bottle-shapes were built into vaulting. Water sprinkled on the floors brought the colors of the mosaics to life while they provided cooling by evaporation.

Entrance to the site

In the House of the Hunt, the basilica, with an apse at its head, a transept and dependent spaces opening into what would be the nave if it were a church, has been instanced (Thébert) as an example of the conjunction between public architecture and the domus of the ruling class in the fourth century, spaces soon to be Christianized as churches and cathedrals.

The subtle colors and shading and the modelling of three-dimensional forms of the finest mosaics at Bulla Regia are not surpassed by any in North Africa, where the Roman art of mosaic floors reached its fullest development. The mosaic of a haloed Amphitrite (House of Amphitrite) is often illustrated (above, right).



The Berber origins of Bulla Regia probably pre-dated its Punic culture: imported Greek ceramics of the fourth century BCE have been found; it came under the hegemony of Carthage during the third century, when inscriptions reveal that the inhabitants venerated Baal Hammon and buried their dead in urns, Punic style. A capital from a temple of Tanit is preserved at the site's museum.

Later history[edit]

Broadly speaking, Bulla Regia was part of the territory conquered for Rome in 203 BCE by Scipio Africanus, but in 156 BCE it became the capital of the Numidian king Massinissa, who "recovered the lands of his ancestors", according to an inscription, and gave to the site its epithet Regia ("Royal"); later, one of his sons had a residence in the city. Under the Numidians, a regularized orthogonal grid street plan in the Hellenistic manner [1] was imposed on at least part of the earlier irregular system of alleys and insulae (Thébaut). The Romans assumed direct control in 46 BCE, when Julius Caesar organized the province of Africa Nova and rewarded the (perhaps simply neutral) conduct of Bulla Regia in the Civil Wars by making it a free city. Under Hadrian, it was refounded as Colonia Aelia Hadriana Augusta Bulla Regia, giving its citizens full Romanitas.

Its small amphitheatre, the subject of a reproach in a sermon of Augustine of Hippo, retains the crispness of its edges and steps because it lay buried until 1960-61. To this day, the Roman Catholic Church retains this site as a bishopric, a titular see, Bullensium Regiorum.

Decline and destruction[edit]

After its season of flourishing[vague], Bulla Regia was slowly degraded under Byzantine rule. As elsewhere in the Late Empire, the local aristocracy found themselves in a position to increase the extent of their houses at the expense of public space: the House of the Fisherman was adapted to link two separate insulae turning a thoroughfare into a dead end. Finally an earthquake destroyed Bulla Regia, collapsing its first floors into the subterranean floors.


Drifting sand protected the abandoned sites, which were forgotten until the first excavations were begun, in 1906, in part spurred by the destruction of the monumental entrance to the Roman city. The forum, surrounded by porticoes, was excavated in 1949-52. Its public basilica had an apse at each end. As a cathedral it had a highly unusual cruciform baptismal font inserted the center of the rear (west end) of its nave (Jensen).


  1. ^ Perhaps initiated at the founding of Alexandria.

Further reading[edit]

The excavations at Bulla Regia were published as Les ruines de Bulla Regia, A. Besaouch, R. Hanoune, and Y. Thébert, Rome, 1977.

External links[edit]

Website about Bulla Regia Website about Bulla Regia Virtual tourist site

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulla_Regia — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
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124 news items


Fri, 30 Jan 2015 07:56:15 -0800

Da Tabarka in giornata si arriva vicino a Jendouba, al sito di Bulla Regia, un sogno in un paesaggio che più mediterraneo non si può. Il sito è antichissimo ma le vestigia che ammiriamo sono romane e bizantine (dall' 80 d.c.). Molti edifici sono in ...
Sun, 20 May 2012 16:15:00 -0700

Since 2009, the WMF, an international nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of historic architecture and sites, has been helping to stabilize and safeguard the ruins of Bulla Regia, a once prosperous colony-city not far from Carthage, the home of ...

Kapitalis.com (Communiqué de presse) (Inscription)

Kapitalis.com (Communiqué de presse) (Inscription)
Fri, 02 Jan 2015 02:31:34 -0800

... à décliner conformément à chaque apport civilisationnel spécifique: le site paléolithique de Sidi Zin, la basilique et les anciens remparts romains, le mausolée de Sidi Bou Makhlouf, la mosquée Al-Qadriya, Dougga, Makthar, Zama, Bulla Regia, Kesra ...

Radio Express FM

Radio Mosaique FM
Tue, 18 Feb 2014 11:27:03 -0800

Les agents de la prison civile de Bulla Regia dans le gouvernorat de Jendouba ont décidé d'observer une grève ouverte à partir de demain 19 février 2014 devant ladite prison et ce en signe de protestation contre le fait qu'ils n'ont pas été informés ...


Sat, 22 Feb 2014 04:14:55 -0800

Je félicite la jeune journaliste-citoyenne, Nawel Bizid, auteur de cet article bien pensé, bien structuré et bien exprimé, pour avoir attiré l'attention et réveillé la conscience civile sur ce grave épisode de terrorisme qui vient de se vérifier en ...

Jawhara FM

Jawhara FM
Thu, 20 Mar 2014 13:37:30 -0700

En guise de contestation contre leur exclusion de la dernière liste de bénéficiaires de l'amnistie à l'occasion de la fête de l'indépendance, huit détenus de la prison de Bulla Regia dans le gouvernorat de Jendouba ont profité d'un climat de vive ...

African Manager

Thu, 13 Feb 2014 11:02:24 -0800

Une campagne de nettoyage du site archéologique de Bulla Regia a démarré aujourd'hui, mercredi, lancée par l'Association de Développement et de Reforme Sociale de Jendouba (ADRSJ), sous la supervision de techniciens de l'Institut National du ...

Business News

Business News
Tue, 18 Feb 2014 04:38:46 -0800

Le Bureau des Affaires étrangères britannique et du Commonwealth constate l'augmentation de l'activité terroriste en Tunisie et rappelle les derniers événements de Bulla Regia (gouvernorat de Jendouba) où 4 personnes ont été tuées et considère qu'il y ...

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