The archaeological site of Mactaris adjoins the city of Makthar which is, in a way, a late outgrowth, from the colonial period, as evidenced by some buildings (such as the seat of the delegation) or houses with sloping roofs covered with red tiles.
Mactaris is the Latin transposition of the initial toponym: Mktrm, which testifies to the lybic origins of the city, as evidenced by the large number of funerary monuments dating back to this civilization and which are inserted in the site. This is about all that survives from this I era as a “monumental” legacy.
The foundation of the city itself seems to date back to the 1st century BC, with the installation of Punic or Punicized Numidian settlers who spread the religion, culture and arts of Carthage in the region in a lasting manner. This city survived even after the arrival of the Romans, at the very beginning of the 1st century. It is, however, to the Roman period that most of the archaeological heritage can be traced, considered to be one of the richest and most beautiful in Tunisia. The city reached its peak in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Its decline began in the fourth century and precipitated with the Vandal and Byzantine invasions.
A monumental gate, which today stands at the entrance to the modern city, welcomes visitors. Across the road, the site itself is surrounded by a fence. Behind, all the monuments that make up a Roman city, for the most part in a good state of conservation: amphitheater, thermal baths (4, in all), forum crowned by an imposing triumphal arch dedicated to Trajan, temples, basilicas, crypts, mausoleums and even… Roman tax collection!