Table of Jugurtha

Table de Jugurtha is a mountain in northwestern Tunisia, on the territory of the municipality of Kalaat Senan (Kef governorate), consisting of a mesa rising 600 meters above the surrounding plain, culminating at 1,271 meters above sea level and extending over more than 80 hectares. It’s ranking on the UNESCO World Heritage List is proposed by the Tunisian Ministry of Cultural Affairs in 2017. Close enough to the Tunisian-Algerian border, this rock dominates by its mass and by its altitude (1,271 m) the surrounding highlands. Tabular in shape, this mountain has a marly base suitable for grass and cereals. Its limestone cliffs depict a mountainous terrain of almost oval shape four kilometers in circumference covering an area of 80 hectares. It is only accessible from the north where an embankment reduces it by half. From here, it is used to climb a staircase of 136 steps defended by a tower shortly before its summit before coming directly on the mesa called Menaa (refuge).

It is an immense plateau of stone without vegetation. There is a mosque placed under the protection of Sidi Abdel Daoud and which houses in its courtyard the tomb of Brahim Bou Aziz, former Hanencha boss. A little further, cisterns dug in the stony ground helped to ensure the water supply of the inhabitants. Ten in number, their width varies between three and four meters. Covered with a heavy limestone slab fifty meters thick, the Table Jugurtha is subject to a slow process of erosion accentuated by snow periods. This erosion degrades the rock and creates fractures causing the separation of large blocks of limestone.

History

The site still displays vestiges of human occupation from different eras, mainly medieval. There are indications of a primitive city with remains of dwellings, granaries, fortifications, and cavities dug in the rock to retain, once, the rainwater. Snails, dolmens, Haouanet, Libyan steles and vestiges of structures whose origin could be protohistoric are present. They translate cultic and cultural practices into an ancient human group. According to studies conducted by Franco-Tunisian archaeological missions, taking up the hypotheses of André Berthier on the geography of ancient North Africa, the Table of Jugurtha would correspond to the narrative from Sallust describing the battlefield that pitted the Numidian kingdom against the Romans in 107 BC. AD. This interpretation is however hypothetical. During the Middle Ages, the site sometimes serves as a fortress to control the region, sometimes a refuge for indigenous people, in the context of struggles for the control of Ifriqiya. The surrounding region and its plains have many battles between invaders, rebels, and masters of the country, without the articulation between the plain of Bulla and Table Jugurtha is clear on the strategic and military.

In 533, the nearby plain of Bulla serves as a refuge for the last Vandal king Gelimer persecuted by the Byzantines. Three years later, it serves as a rallying place for the rebel army of Stotzas who opposes the patrician Solomon. In 686, again, the Berber tribes found refuge in the nearby plain of Mermagenna after the death of King Koceïla.

During the tenth century and the eleventh century, the plain was a refuge for the first Fatimids and then for the Zirids. In 1283, the Hafside emir of Béjaïa, Abu Faris, is killed by the usurper Ibn Abi-Umara while the survivors of the battle find refuge on the mountain. In 1352, the Hafside emir Abu Ishaq Ibrahim al-Mustansir was defeated by rebels.
In 1644, Hammouda Pasha Bey defeated the Sheikh of Hanencha, who had a refuge on the plateau. In 1694, Hussein ben Ali, suspected of treason by the Mouradites, took refuge there before becoming master of the regency of Tunis.
In the eighteenth century, the Table would have served as a refuge for the brigand Senane, hence the name of the current town of Kalaat Senan “Fort Senan”. In the twentieth century, the French established a mine, now abandoned.

UNESCO

In August 2017, the Tunisian Ministry of Cultural Affairs begins the first steps to inscribe the Jugurtha Table on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The nomination file is officially submitted on 28 September 2017 to the Paris headquarters of the organization by the Minister Mohamed Zine El Abidine. The project to open a museum dedicated to the site in the compound of the former presidential palace of Habib Bourguiba is announced. It is also planned to provide in the following year a second file focused on the valuation and development of the site.

Although geographically and geomorphologically, there are comparable sites in the region (Djebel el Kef, Djebel El Goraa, Djebel Kesra), Kallat-Senen remains unique in its size, shape and historical load. Nowhere else in North Africa can we find, on the same site, such a concentration of natural wonders and witnesses of culture.
In order to enhance the site’s value, an old building (housing of the director of the mine dating from 1901), currently owned by the municipality, will be renovated and converted into a complex consisting of a dig house, an interpretation center and a lapidary museum in its garden space. Economic development projects are also planned to create a new economic, tourism, social, and cultural dynamic based on an effective and sustainable management plan for heritage resources.

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Hallo Tunisia

Local Travel Agent Tunisia

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