2012 March 29 – Day 18 – Sousse, Tunisia (Part 2)

We thoroughly enjoyed touring the huge amphitheater in El Djem, an hour’s drive from Sousse.  Our next stop was the museum to see the Roman mosaics and re-constructed Roman villa. The tiles that make up these gorgeous designs are only about a quarter of an inch square.  That is an awful lot of tiles!  Many of the beautiful mosaics were made in the second or third century BC. In the museum there was also displays of mortuary masks and sculptures.

                                                                Lucius Verus 2 c AD Many wealthy or aristocratic Romans would commission statues of themselves or cities would want a statue of a civic leader or local hero.  It was customary for sculptors to have a selection of draped figures in various poses that could have a head (and often hands and arms) added in the likeness of the person.  This was efficient for the purchaser as well as the artist.  If, perhaps, the hero is no longer in favour the head could be removed and replaced with a more popular person. (One of our guides said this was the reason there were so many heads in museums.) The foundation, floors, courtyard and columns of the Roman villa are original and rest has been rebuilt. There was also a large archaeological site at the back of the property. Back on the bus on the way back to Sousse someone asked if we could make a stop for some shopping.   We did not want to go shopping but everyone else on the bus did.  And, surprise, surprise, the guide knew a wonderful place to buy all kinds of things that he assured us were authentic goods.  Many of the trinkets and knick-knacks were Made in China.  The proprietor herded everyone to the basment for a carpet-making demonstration.  The smoke and incense were so thick I scooted right back upstairs again.  There were two ladies knotting rugs on the main floor that we could watch. These rugs were being made in wool but they also make them with silk.  The wool rugs have several thousand knots per square meter.  The silk rugs can have as many as one million knots per square meter (just over three feet square).  We, unfortunately spent almost as much time in the shop as we had been allowed at the amphitheater and museum.  Not a fan of the shopping stops!  We arrived back at the port in time to catch the last tender back to the ship. This fellow was actually slaughtering the sheep right beside the road.   I guess you would be assured of fresh lamb or mutton for dinner. We had a second port-of-call in Tunisia.  The next day was spent further down the coast in Gabes, where we rode camels into the Sahara Desert.


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