Sites & cities that bear the name of Simitthu


Today in : Tunisia
First trace of activity : ca. 5th century B.C.E
Last trace of activity : ca. 10th century C.E
Recorded names : Simitthus, Simithu, Chemtou, Chimtou, شمتو

Description : Chemtou or Chimtou was an ancient Roman-Berber town in northwestern Tunisia, located 20 km from the city of Jendouba near the Algerian frontier. It was known as Simitthu (or Simitthus in Roman period) in antiquity. Chemtou was founded in the 4th to 5th century BC as a colony of the Berber kingdom of Numidia. It later became a Roman town in the province of Africa. The city was important enough to become a bishopric, before its eventual abandonment around the 9th to 10th century. It lies at the crossroad of two major highways: the one that connects Carthage and Hippo Regius (today Annaba), and the one that connects Thabraca (today Tabarka) and Sicca (today El Kef). The town is known for its quarries, where one of the most precious types of marbles in the Roman Empire, the antique yellow marble (marmor numidicum or giallo antico), was exploited. With Chemtou's ruins dating from over a period of 1,500 years, the site covers over 80 hectares of area pending further excavations. After being partially excavated in the late 19th century, a series of excavations carried out since the late 1960s by a Tunisian-German archaeological team has uncovered new parts of the city, as well as the Roman road connecting it to Thabraca for the purpose of transporting marbles to the Mediterranean Sea. The excavated ruins are typical of Roman cities with temples, baths, an aqueduct, an amphitheatre, and housing for quarry workers whose number may exceed a thousand. The Chemtou Museum displays artifacts discovered in the area. The testimonies of the long history of the settlement of Chimtous have been partly preserved on the rocky ridges and on their southern, western and northern slopes. In Simitthus there were all the buildings that are to be found in Roman cities: an amphitheater, a theater, a forum with forum basilica and fountain, a three- aisled market hall, a nymphaeum, at least three thermal baths. Byzantine church buildings and a building in the north-west of the city, interpreted as an imperial edifice, which is most probably a so-called Italian podium temple or temple italique. There were also two Roman sanctuaries, the temple districts of Dii Mauri on the eastern slope, and the Caelestis on the western slope at Djebel Bou Rfifa. In addition, Simitthus also had a few buildings that stand out because of their uniqueness in the North African region

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