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Photographer's Note

EL JEM's Coliseu

The city was built, like almost all Roman settlements in Tunisia, on former Punic settlements. In a less arid climate than today's, Roman Thysdrus prospered especially in the 2nd century, when it became an important centre of olive oil manufacturing for export. It was the seat of a Christian bishop - which is still occupied by a titular Roman Catholic bishop today.

By the early 3rd Century AD, when the amphitheatre was built, Thysdrus rivalled Hadrumetum (modern Sousse) as the second city of Roman North Africa, after Carthage. However, following the abortive revolt that began there in 238 AD, and Gordian I's suicide in his villa near Carthage, Roman troops loyal to the Emperor Maximinus Thrax destroyed the city. It never really recovered.

How thorough the destruction was in the 3rd century is not known. Perhaps there was a garbage dump at Thysdrus like the one at Oxyrhyncus.

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Additional Photos by Armando Lourenco (aofl) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 62 W: 4 N: 68] (1088)
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