Bulla Regia

Jendouba, Tunisia

Site History and Significance

A Unique Archaeological Site

Bulla Regia is an important archaeological site in the northwest of Tunisia. The region became part of the Roman Empire in the first century CE, and prospered by providing agricultural products such as wheat, grains, grapes, and olives to the rest of the Empire. The public and private architecture and ornate decoration of the province’s cities, including Bulla Regia, reflect this prosperity.

Bulla Regia is unique among the numerous archaeological sites in Tunisia because its domestic architecture was constructed below ground. Scholars have hypothesized that the houses were built in this manner to alleviate the intense heat. Most of the ornate mosaics adorning the houses have remained in situ, and visitors can view the elaborate polychrome mosaics in their original context.

Our Involvement

Condition Surveys and Emergency Interventions

World Monuments Fund (WMF) began working at Bulla Regia in 2009 in collaboration with local authorities and international preservation professionals. Early work at the site included a conditions survey to identify areas urgently in need of intervention. The Maison de la Chasse, one of the underground houses with a peristyle courtyard surrounded by rooms decorated with mosaics,  required emergency stabilization. The team strapped the unstable lintel and fissured columns with carbon fibers and injected resin into the architrave to alleviate pressure and cracking. In an effort to improve visitor safety, cracked staircases were repaired and new parapets were installed.

Because much of the archaeological site is below ground level, drainage poses a major threat. At Maison de la Chasse, the conservation team recently reopened and expanded the ancient Roman drainage system to help facilitate water dispersal. At Maison d’Amphitrite, the conservation team cleared a drain that had been completely obstructed. Other work at the site included repairing damaged arches; removing destructive vegetation; and collecting and verifying data to assemble comprehensive architectural documentation for each of the villas on site.

The Tunisia Site Management Planning Training Program

In 2020, building on work at Bulla Regia, WMF collaborated with the Institut National du Patrimoine (INP) in Tunisia, the Tunisian Ministry of Culture, and the Arab Regional Center for World Heritage (ARC-WH) in Bahrain to develop a series of on-the-job trainings for the preparation of site management plans.

Intended to help improve the management of seven UNESCO World Heritage sites across the country, as required by the UNESCO World Heritage Center, the Tunisia Site Management Planning Training program is also designed to facilitate the preparation of future World Heritage nominations and build heritage management capacity across the region.

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Last updated: April 2021.

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