The National Archaeological Museum of Tebessa

Tébessa: A brand new museum still untapped for three years

The National Archaeological Museum of Tebessa, which was approved three years ago to enhance the archaeological heritage of the wilaya, remains unused today, regret the members of the local association “Minerve” for the protection of cultural heritage. The director of culture, Mr Djillali Zebda, even says that his services have “permanently abandoned this building”, considering that its conception “hardly meets the architectural standards of national museums”.

Built on two levels near the family park and recreation center of wilaya, on an area of ​​1.650 m2, the building nevertheless required a public investment of the order of 80 million dinars. It includes several large rooms and spacious halls that were originally intended to house various old pieces from the former communal museum of the city.

A unique wall in the world

The wilaya of Tebessa, it is recalled, contains, as far as archaeological objects are concerned, real treasures, including 1,161 coins, copper and silver, as well as thousands of objects testifying to the passage of Many civilizations.

Tebessa, ancient Theveste, is one of the first cities to have been founded by the Romans in North Africa, after Carthage in Tunisia. Its Roman wall, unique in the world and still in good condition, has been invaded for a few years by detritus, as are other sites such as the ancient city of Tebessa-El-Khalia, the Roman oil mill of Berzguene or l Roman amphitheater.

A true open-air museum

The Tebessa region contains over a hundred archaeological sites which remain unattended. The phenomenon of squandering of wealth has increased markedly in recent years. An archaeologist has even argued that “Thousands of pieces bequeathed by the Roman, Byzantine, Arabic and other civilizations are every year delivered to normal looting, and in fact a real juicy trade of the traffickers who carry out a real bleeding of these cultural goods . The traffic, which is not new, is encouraged by European collectors. They are sponsors who, through Tunisians, encourage some border inhabitants to carry out clandestine excavations, especially in unsupervised sites in scattered areas “.

A head of the bronze christ

Thus, an archaeological piece in bronze representing the head of Christ was recovered by the brigade of the fight against the traffic of cultural goods. Bronze statuettes, a Jewish candlestick and 53 Roman coins will be retrieved by the police in Tebessa, while they were about to be transported to Tunisia.

Other objects such as a column bearing Roman inscriptions, jars, stones engraved with Byzantine inscriptions and others dating from the prehistoric era were about to be exported. At the sites of Gastel, Elma Labiod, Tebessa and Besseriani, in the extreme south of the wilaya, coins, pottery, sarcophagi, mosaic tiles … were hijacked by strangers, The fact that the region is only a short distance from the borders.

The statue of the Shooting Star (a naked woman) disappeared 15 years ago, ceded at a derisory price to an Italian, who was waiting for her on Tunisian soil could be recovered unlike the statue of Joan of Arc, Standing, carrying a spear in his hand, which has not yet been found.

As a reminder, the many lithic vestiges that stretch here and there in the region of Tebessa attest to a continuous human presence in this region since the lower Palaeolithic, about a million years ago according to an archaeologist of the association “Minerva “.