Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hilary Clinton in Tunisia

February 2012, Hilary Clinton visited Tunisia. The US embassy in Tunis arranged a meeting for civil society activist.
 http://ahmedguide.blogspot.com

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Synagogue of Djerba


From one of the oldest Jewish sanctuaries in the world, The synagogue of Djerba, Some Tunisian Jew reading the Torah  

Sun Rise in Ong Jemal

Ong Jemal in the Tunisian Sahara is one of the most beautiful spots to watch sun rise
Star Wars movie was shot there

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Introduction To Roman Tunisia

After the unification of the Italic peninsula, Rome came into conflicts with Carthage, a commercial power. The Roman ambitious started to emerge. They considered the Mediterranean Sea as theirs "Mare Nostrum". Thus the position of Carthage is strategic. With its destruction in 146BC, Rome became the new ruler of the territory. They ruled a territory that included the western and eastern coasts. Numidian kingdom stayed independent after the support of its king Massinissa.  With the strait of Messine, Rome controlled the universal wealth for more than six centuries.    


During the Roman civil war, the rulers of Numidia supported his rival Pompey. Caesar sent his army to Africa and defeated them in 46BC at Thapsus, actual Ras-Dimas , Tunisia.

To punish the Numidian kings, Caesar decided to annexe their kingdom to the Roman territory. The Numidian kingdom includes the east of Algeria and the west of Tunisia.This part was called Africa Nova "New Africa" while the first territory was known as Africa Vetus "Old Africa"  The new roman province  was ruled by a governor named by the Roman Consul.Since it became Africa proconsularis. Even with the transformation of Rome into an empire,Africa kept the name of proconsularis.
Map of the Proconsularis: It included the eastern part of Algeria

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The truth behind the destruction of Carthage

In 433, Carthage and the rest of the province of Africa fell under the control of the Vandals. These Germanic tribes had invaded Europe before founding their empire in north Africa that Carthage was the capital.

Many historians have confirmed that the Vandals destroyed the Roman Carthage. They had wrecked Gaul, Spain and Italy itself before occupying Carthage and north Africa.

When French archaeologists started the excavation of the site of Carthage, they declared that Roman Carthage was destroyed by Vandals and later by Arabs.

The approach of the French archaeologists "missionaries" is completely wrong: First Vandals founded an empire and they used the buildings left by Romans. Second, the mission of these archaeologists is to find a "link" between the French history and Tunisian history. Third, the French missionaries didn't read the perfect description of the ruins of Carthage by the Arabs historians and geographers. They mentioned that the Roman buildings remained intact. In the 13th century, the rulers decided to built the second level of Tunis walls. They used the huge buildings as a quarry.......
Bath of Antoninus Carthage: Albekri in the 11th century described with perfect details the building and its huge columns 

Come To Tunisia

Dear customers

I invite you to discover Tunisia. I organize private tours for groups and individuals.
The price is negotiable. It depends on number of the clients and other issues......
The price includes normally the service of English Speaking Guide and transportation (car, bus,  4WD....)  

Tunisia is a rich country, more than 3000 of history. Nowadays 8 sites are listed by UNESCO as a world heritage. Here i offer you a trip to discover these sites: UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Tunisia

 Photos from Tunisia : Different photos to show the richness and the diversity of the Tunisian culture.....

To read what I write about my country

For your reservation these are my contacts:
Email: ahmedguide@yahoo.com
          Phone: 00216 22 023 532
                       00216 52 270 057




Monday, September 10, 2012

Bacchus in Roman African Mosaics

Bacchus is the God if wine and vegetation in the Roman mythology. He was assimilated to the Greek God of wine Dionysus.

The birth of the god is a mystery. His father, Jupiter sewed him up in his thigh for four month because his mother Semele, the princess of Thebes, was burned to ashes. She was the first Jupiter mistress to ask him to appear in all his god majesty. The burn was caused by Jupiter lighting and thunder when he came before her.

Bacchus was raised by satyrs, man with goat legs and pointed ears. Silenus, the oldest of the satyrs, taught him the secret of cultivating grapes and making wine.
Bacchus was represented as a handsome youth-god, beardless with long hair with wine ivy or vine leaves on the head. Bacchus like riding panthers and tigers. 

Bacchus in Roman African Mosaics   
Since the occupation of the Numidian territories by Caesar in 46BC, the Roman culture started to spread. A new culture emerged, Romano-African culture. Nowadays, Tunisia has the biggest collection of mosaics tableau. These mosaics are the witness of the flourished Roman-African culture.
Bacchus was represented in many tableau that archaeologists have extracted from the ground. It seems that he was assimilated to Shadrapha, the Semitic god that has the same features as Bacchus. ElJem museum shelters the most important tableaux depicting Bacchus and his cycle.
Mosaic depicting Bacchus riding a lion with a satyr and Silenus: Eljem Museum 2nd century



Bacchus surrounded by seasons and centaurs, Acholla (Henchir Botria north of Sfax) 2nd century.  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A ne pas rater : Une journée à Kairouan



Première fondation Arabo-musulmane au Maghreb et quatrième ville sainte de l’Islam, Kairouan n’était qu’un camp militaire instauré par les troupes Arabes conduits par le General Ukba Ibn Nafi en 670. L’emplacement semble judicieux, le site occupe un plateau qui se trouve à 60km de la mer et de la montagne. Or les Byzantins contrôlaient la mer alors que les Berbères se refugiaient dans les montagnes qui l’entourent.
Le début de la huitième siècle marque la fin de la conquête, Carthage tomba sous le contrôle des Arabes et Africa n’est plus une province Byzantine. Le nom devin Ifriqiya dont le gouverneur fut nommé par le Calife à Damas. Carthage céda la place à Kairouan et les Berbères commencèrent à se convertir en Islam. De plus plusieurs Arabes natifs de la péninsule arabique et le Cham choisissaient Kairouan pour y vivre. Vers le milieu du huitième siècle, Kairouan fut la plus grande cité du Maghreb.
Pour quatre siècles, Kairouan était la capitale de l’Ifriqiya avec une population de 500000 habitants.
En 800, une dynastie Persane, les Aghlabides, se proclama indépendante de Baghdâd. Cette autonomie dans la prise de décision a rendu la stabilité à Ifriqiya. C’est un âge d’or similaire à la Pax Romana. La grande mosquée a été reconstruite et se leva au rang d’une université vénérée par les orientaux et les occidentaux. Des gigantesques installations hydrauliques furent construites pour satisfaire le besoin d’eau potable à sa population et une ville princière   Vers le milieu du IXème siècle, la Sicile et l’Italie méridionale tombèrent sous le contrôle des Aghlabides. Ifriqiya se trouva encore le leader de l’Afrique du Nord.  

Vers 909 les descendants du prophète Mohamed et sa fille Fatma, les Fatimides, devinrent les nouveaux dirigeants du Maghreb. C’est la première monarchie Shiite dans l’histoire de l’Islam. Mahdia devint la capitale à fin de fuir les Sunnites qui se montraient hostiles vers les nouveaux dirigeants et le Shiisme. D’ailleurs les kharijites du sud Tunisien se révoltèrent contre eux vers 916. Les Kairouanais supportèrent les Fatimides et l’ordre se rétablis encore. Comme signe de reconnaissance ils fondèrent une ville princière « Sabra Mansouriya » avant de quitter vers leur nouvelle capitale le Caire En 974.

En quittant Ifriqiya, les Fatimides ont chargé les Zirides, tribus Berbère du Sahara au pouvoir. Ces derniers se tournèrent vers le sunnisme condamnèrent le Shiisme. Le calife Fatimide au Caire décida de les punir en envoyant les tribus barbares de Banu Hilal. Ils saccagèrent le pays et la capitale Kairouan tomba en ruine. Pour un siècle le pays se trouva sans autorité centrale. C’est sous les Almohades du Marrakech que le pays reconnu la stabilité. Mais Kairouan céda la place à Tunis.

Les nouveaux dirigeants du pays n’ont pas ignoré Kairouan. Les Hafsides du 13éme siècle et les ottomans à partir du 16éme siècle ont reconstruit la ville. D’ailleurs la plus part des monuments comme les mausolées des saints et les écoles coraniques datent du 15éme, 16éme et 17éme siècle. Les remparts furent reconstruits au 18éme siècle par les beys husseinite dont leur nom et mentionné dans les inscriptions situées au-dessus des portes.   

Aujourd’hui le site historique de Kairouan est fréquenté par les tunisiens et les étrangers. Ici, un compagnon « Sahabi » est inhumé depuis 634. Son mausolée est le plus visité en Tunisie. On dit souvent que six visites sont équivalentes à un pèlerinage à la Mecque. De plus le site abrite des monuments considérés comme uniques dans le monde musulmans. Notons la grande mosquée, les bassins des Aghlabides et la ville princière de Sabra Mansouriya.

Les visiteurs suivent un itinéraire bien précis. Il a été aménagé par la municipalité avec l’aide de l’institut du patrimoine.
Plan de Kairouan

En prenant un louage de Tunis, il est recommandé de s’arrêter devant le syndicat d’initiative. D’où on achète le ticket et le droit photo (8D droit d’entée et 1D droit de photo). Vous pouvez demander au chauffeur de vous déposer à coté du syndicat.
Apres le payement vous pouvez monter à la Terrace pour une vue des bassins des Aghlabides. Ces sont les plus grandes installations hydrauliques dans le monde musulmans. Il s’agit, selon les historiens médiévaux, d’un groupe de 14 ou 15 bassins circulaires dont les fouilleurs ont exhumés que deux. Chaque bassin est divisé en deux ; un petit bassin pour la décantions d’eau de pluie et des rivières qui entoure la plaine de Kairouan transportées par des aqueducs. Un grand bassin de réserve qui permet une deuxième purification des eaux avant la collection dans les citernes de puisages.  
Avant de quitter vous pouvez jeter un coup d’œil sur les bassins de prés. L’entrée se trouve prés des toilettes.

Apres 100m, on trouve le mausolée de Sidi Saheb. C’est un compagnon du prophète Mohamed enterré en 634 durant une expédition contre les Byzantins en terre de Tunisie. Pour 10 siècles, il était qu’une chambre surmontée par une coupole. Vers le XVIIIème siècle, le gouverneur ottoman a ordonné la construction d’un complexe dédié au compagnon du prophète. Il se compose d’un oratoire, une chambre funéraire abritant le catafalque du compagnon et des chambres d’hôtes pour les étudiants. Le monument……

La grande mosquée de Kairouan ou mosquée d’Ukba Ibn Nafi est la plus ancienne mosquée dans l’occident musulman. Elle est devenue un model pour les mosquées de Fez et Cordoue en Espagne. Le plan final date du 9éme siècle mais les dynasties ayant gouverné la Tunisie depuis le 10éme siècle ont pris soin de cette mosquée. En effet le carrelage en marbre a été ajouté par les beys Husseinite vers le milieu du 18éme siècle……

Avant le 13éme siècle, la grande mosquée occupait le centre de la médina. C’est avec les Hafsides du 13éme siècle que le centre fut déplacé vers son emplacement actuel. On peut commencer la visite à partir de la grande mosquée. D’abord on trouve les maisons privées qui occupent les ruelles jusqu’à atteindre la voix principale. La voix principale est le centre de la médina de Kairouan dont les ruelles ne sont que des voix secondaires occupées par les maisons et les différentes boutiques artisanales. A l’époque chaque ruelle avait sa propre spécialité, souk des babouches, souk des selliers……  Aujourd’hui ces souks gardent leurs noms malgré la disparition des activités d’origines.
Les écoles d’époques Hafsides et ottomanes se trouvent à l’entrée des souks secondaires. Notons l’école de Sidi Abid Ghariyani 15éme siècle, l’école hussaynite 18émé siècle….  

Quant au repas il est recommandé d’essayer le kafteji, c’est différent du kafteji tunisois. Le kafteji Kairouanais  est composé de piment, tomate et oignons. Le sandwich coute maximum 1.5DT. Les restaurants qui le servent se trouvent à l’intérieur de la médina. Si vous voulez un menu complet il y a des restaurants dont le budget ne dépasse pas 7DT.

       

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tunisia By Henk Overberg


 It has been interesting to follow from afar as a disinterested but not uninterested observer the developments that have been taking place in Tunisia since the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, which sparked off the Arab Spring.   I have been fortunate to lead groups to visit Tunisia three times: twice prior to the revolution and once just before the recent elections.   We enjoyed all our visits to Tunisia, were made very welcome, and learnt a lot about people and country.  Within the time of our three visits, the country has certainly changed.

Two things that struck us especially were the changes in attitude: of the bureaucracy we came in contact with, and also of the people we met while travelling city and country.   We well remember how custom officials obstructed and delayed our arrival at Tunis Airport.  We had us wait for hours for no purpose, before they even started to think of issuing visas.  This upset our people greatly: we spent much time afterwards calming them.   Whenever we had to deal with officials we struck the same unfriendly attitude.  On our last visit officials and police had lightened up considerably, welcoming us with open arms, and were in general enthusiastic and helpful.   People we met on our pre-revolution visits were circumspect in their comments about officialdom. Where a comment was made they often mentioned frustration with the corruption of officials, unreasonable levels of taxation, restrictive rules of business, and the like.

Such attitudes had disappeared on our last visit early October 2011.   People had energy: they expressed hope that long established problems could be resolved and that a new future was dawning.   The hope was mixed with fear: hope that things might become better, but also fear that the old patterns might linger.   Much was expected of the forthcoming elections.

Looking at the situation from afar, it seems that the elections have had a positive effect on Tunisian society.   Moderate Islamists form the majority in government, and they are allied with centre-left groups: there seems to be no wish to establish an Islamist state.   A new constitution has been introduced.   The violence seen in Egypt, Libya and Syria has largely been avoided.
MR Henk Overberg in Matmata, Tunsian south east.
He is a senior lecturer in Deakin university Melbourne Australia

I think a number of factors have been at play here.   First, the old authorities, symbolized by ex-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, went quickly.   Second, there was little foreign interference, so that the proxy wars in Libya and Syria have been avoided.   Third, the army played a far less intrusive role in the transition than it has done in Egypt, which led to a greater public acceptance of transitional arrangements.   Fourth, Tunisian society is relatively homogeneous, and there has neither been the inter-tribal warfare that has so disfigured Libya, nor the Islamic-Christian confrontation that is complicating the situation in Syria.   Without wishing to trivialize the suffering of Tunisians during the revolution, the level of antagonism in Tunisia was lower to a degree than it has been in Egypt, Libya, and Syria.

Will it last?   There is a real chance that it will.   The West had hoped for a transition to a Western-style secular political establishment.   Given the situation in Tunisia before the revolution, that was never likely to happen.   The polity under President Ben Ali was secular, but its secularism was linked with deep-seated patronage which generated wide-scale corruption.   In this context a secular outcome of the revolution was too much to hope for.   Yet with a moderate Islamic government in charge there is hope for the future.   Some of the signs have been good.    First, relatively uncorrupted elections were held.   Second, the population has by and large accepted the outcome.   Third, a constitution with reasonable democratic safeguards has been put into place.   Fourth, the whole process of transformation has been achieved in a context of relative absence of violence.   The next elections will provide a further measure of the success of the revolution.   If the present government is returned, well and good.   If such elections point to a change of government, then it remains to be seen whether the present lot in power will relinquish power without violence or corruption.   If such is the case, then Tunisia may well feel that a new future has dawned.