The Kerkouane site is one of Tunisia’s most precious archaeological sites because so far it the only Punic city in the Mediterranean that hasn’t been re-built by other civilisations.
A few years after the accidental discovery of the Punic city of Kerkouane, in 1952 the large scale excavations revealed the Punic town spread over close to 9 hectares, though part of it had been clearly already washed away by the sea. Since 1965 the authorities were able to stop this damage, and methodical excavations followed up to 1976 unveiling town planning, hydraulic works, domestic architecture, sacred spaces and other records. In recent years, excavations were conducted in areas such as the sanctuary and the necropolis.
The cultural dimension of the Kerkouane site is strengthened with the creation of a museum, opened in 1987, which is crucible in the national memory. If the site reflects the picture of a Punic city, the museum reveals many aspects of everyday life, of economic and commercial activities, and of spiritual life of the city. The collections are mainly Punic, but there are also objects on display originating from Greece (especially decorative objects like vases, lamps etc) and Egypt (especially religious objects like seals, amulets, figurines etc.) that attest to the intense maritime activity of Carthaginian sailors.
Being aware of the site’s importance, the National Heritage Institute, together with the development agency and cultural promotion, is currently (2013) elaborating a new development program that is part of a policy culture which recognizes a real responsibility for all relevant actors.
Being the only known Punic city not to have been rebuilt after its destruction, the Kerkouane site is enrolled in the World Heritage List of UNESCO since 1985.