Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Roman Antonine Baths of Carthage, Tunisia 🇹🇳

The Baths of Antonine in Carthage, Tunisia, are the largest Roman baths constructed in Africa. In fact, they are one of the three largest Roman baths built anywhere. Built between 146 and 162AD, the baths are located right next to the Mediterranean Sea. The freshwater for the baths came via aqueducts from the Zaghuan mountains 60km south of Carthage. This aqueduct and the cisterns where the water was stored was a favorite site of mine, located less than 10 minutes' walk from my apartment.

Due to its close proximity to the sea, the baths (separate facilities for males and females) were located on the upper floors instead of the ground floor as is traditional. The marble capitals on the eight granite columns supporting the central dome each weighed four tons. Swimming pools were located both inside and outside the structure.

Much of what we see today is from the ground floor service area. One can still see the wood furnaces. A large portion of the masonry from the more beautiful upper floors was repurposed after the basement roof collapsed.
I especially liked the ornamental carving. This vertical piece, whose size dwarfs an adult, gives one an idea of how ornate the baths were. The Antonine Baths are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Carthage.

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