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Report 1992: Tunisia - the North and the Roman Sites

By Eleanor from UK, Spring 2012

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Page 27 of 30: Elles Tombs

photo by MAW

Elles Tombs

Elles Tombs don’t figure in the guide books and there is little information on the web. Elles is a short drive from Maktar. It is a small village of typical Tunisian houses with white painted walls and flat roofs. Chickens run freely round the village and donkeys are still the main means of transport.

There are over 70 megalithic tombs from the Punic period (2ndC BC) scattered across the landscape. The exact number is uncertain as many tombs have collapsed as a pile of rocks in an already rocky landscape and more keep getting discovered.

The best preserved tomb (number 16) is in the village with a parking area and small building with very basic toilet (and I do mean very - if desperate find a bush), ticket office and a few finds from round the site. The tomb is asymmetrical. On one side there are large upright slabs and on the other it is built up with a series of steps made up of small stones to give it stability. The top is covered with a series of massive slabs. Inside there are seven chambers.

There are many more tombs scattered across the hillside behind the hut, each with the same basic design and in different states of preservation. It is a beautiful place with bare limestone hills with eroded sloping strata and pine trees. There are scattered farm buildings and some wheat being grown. At the end of March there were wild flowers everywhere, marigolds, ragwort, poppies, charlock, anemones, wild peas...

It is a delightful place and we really enjoyed it.

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