Punic Heritage in Tunisia

Kathryn Lafrenz Samuels and Peter van Dommelen

in The Oxford Handbook of the Phoenician and Punic Mediterranean

Published in print October 2019 | ISBN: 9780190499341
Published online August 2019 | e-ISBN: 9780190499365 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Punic Heritage in Tunisia

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Phoenician and Punic studies have an enduring impact today, as the Phoenician and Punic past has become interwoven with contemporary society in Tunisia and elsewhere. In this chapter the authors address the political, economic, and symbolic contexts of Phoenician and Punic heritage within contemporary Tunisia, and also position Tunisia within the wider Mediterranean and international community more broadly. The modern significance of Punic heritage is primarily defined by tourism. The cultural content of Tunisia’s heritage has been used to project an image of intercultural coexistence and tolerance to foreign audiences of tourists, at the same time that heritage tourism has contributed to increasing economic inequality. The entanglement of conservation and economic development in Tunisia means that continuing international calls “to save Carthage” will prove ineffective unless development is made a central pillar of management plans for the site. This would mean taking seriously the political and economic contexts of Punic heritage in Tunisia, and especially recognizing the dire economic straits that Tunisia faces, in which tourism—including heritage tourism—constitutes a core economic sector. The difficult economic foundations of Ben Ali’s repressive rule, the 2010–2011 revolution in response, and the protracted recovery from both, together embed Punic heritage and its economic functions within a precarious time for Tunisian society and its future.

Keywords: cultural heritage; Tunisia; Punic; heritage tourism; economic development; international conservation

Article.  5907 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology by Region

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