• Keywords: Tunicia, Cultural Landscape, Chebika, Tamerza, mountanous oases, waterfalls, cascades, Berber

1. OFFICIAL CLASSIFICATIONS AND CATEGORIES

1.2. Cultural Landscape Category/Tipology

Organically evolved landscapes
Relict (or fossil) landscape

1.3. Description and Justification by Med-O-Med

Description

Chebika and Taberza are two mountainous oases located in western Tunisia, in Tozeur Governorate. These oases show an unique sample of interaction between human being and nature, composing a living continuing landscape illustrated by especific agricultural and irrigation systems. In general, oases are considered by UNESCO and Med-O-Med as sample of the human genius in action. Skills, and particularly traditional know-how in coping with a hostile environment that is scarce in resources, appeared in the development of techniques enabling water (and land) to be used more judiciously, whether available permanently or cyclically. Basis on the UNESCO definition of Cultural Landscape (UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, Article 1, 1972, Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, 2008), considering this region as a result of “the combined works of nature and of man”, Med-O-Med resolves to value this site as a Cultural Landscape because of: -Its Natural Heritage Components: Chebika (also known as Qasr el-Shams) lies at the foot of the mountains of the Djebel el Negueb, in Ghadames desert, and it is considered as “the jewel of the desert” because of its great beauty. Tamerza is the largest mountain oasis in Tunisia, known as Ad Turres by the Romans. It has a pleasant canyon and has an abandoned old town. It is located north of the salt lakes and receives fresh water from the nearby hills. Chebika and Taberza are both small paradises surrounded by palms gardens, agricultural spots, lakes and natural cascades. The landscape of these oases is so particular that was the scenary choosen to shot many scenes of the movies: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, and The English Patient. -Its Cultural Heritage Components: The oases have been built in the traditional way, with adobe. The irrigation and agricultural system also keep the berber tradition. In antiquity, the villages were once a Roman outpost, and later a mountain refuge of the Berber people. Also, in Tamerza have been found several remains from Neolithic settlements that ilustrate the way of living of ancient civilization in this area.

2. NAME / LOCATION / ACCESSIBILITY

  • Current denomination Chebika (or Qasr el-Shams), Tamerza (or Tameghza).
  • Current denomination Chebika (or Qasr el-Shams), Tamerza (or Tameghza).
  • Original denomination Chebika (or Qasr el-Shams), Tamerza (or Tameghza).
  • Popular denomination Chebika (or Qasr el-Shams), Tamerza (or Tameghza).
  • Address: Chebika lies at the foot of the mountains of the Djebel el Negueb Chebika Municipality Address: Boulevard de l'environement Chebika 3121 Tél. : +216 77 240 358 Fax : +216 77 240 105
  • Area, boundaries and surroundings: Chebika is a mountain oasis in western Tunisia, in Tozeur Governorate. It is located at the center of Tunisia, 150 km from Tunis, 15 km form Kairouan, 30 km form Sebikha, 50 km from Nasrallah, 35 km from Hafouz, and 70 km form Weslatia. Tamerza is the largest mountain oasis in Tunisia. It is located north of the salt lakes and receives fresh water from the nearby hills. It is in the hillcountry near the border with Algeria, and is 6km from Mides.
  • Facilities:

    There are some cultural places: the house of the culture, the highschool, libreries, schools.

3. LEGAL ISSUES

Property regime
  • Public
  • Owner: Tunisian Government.
  • Body responsible for the maintenance: Tunisian Government.

4. HISTORY

There have been found several remains from Neolithic settlements that ilustrate the way of living of ancient civilization in this area.

5. GENERAL DESCRIPTION

5.1. Natural heritage

  • Heritage: Rural
  • Geography: Arid Mountain
  • Site topography: Natural
  • Climate and environmental conditions: General overview of the country: Winter rains fall over the northern highlands, with the highest readings along the coast. On parts of the Monts de la Mejerda and Mogod Mountains, annual falls of 1500 mm have been received in what is the wettest part of North Africa. However, at sea level, at Bizerte (37°18'N/9°52'E), mean annual precipitation is 625 mm, declining inland to 490 mm at Zaghouan (36°24'N/10°08'E) some 600 m asl, although again, higher falls are recorded on the nearby massif of Jebel Zaghouan (1294 m). Rainfall is 500 mm/yr at Makthar (35°50'N/9°12'E), 934 m asl, farther south and east, while at an altitude of 68 m asl on the central lowlands, Kairouan (35°42'N/10°01'E) receives an average of 286 mm/rain/yr. Off the east coast, Jerba Island has an average annual receipt of 207 mm/yr. Rainfall varies considerably from year to year, e.g. Makthar received over 900 mm in 1963-64, but only 400 mm in 1966-67. Coastal temperatures are moderated by cool sea breezes, but may occasionally be raised to extremes by a hot dust laden wind from the Sahara. August is the warmest month and mean daily maxima at the coast are then in the region of 31-33°C, while in the northern interior they are 36-38°C. January is the coldest month, when mean daily minima range from 7-8°C at the coast and 3-4°C in the northern interior. Summer temperatures in the far south may exceed 48°C.
Water resources:
  • Public
Tamerza is located north of the salt lakes and receives fresh water from the nearby hills. In Chebika and Tamerza there are small lakes and cascades.
Vegetation:

No information available, appart from date palms.

Land uses and economical activities:
Comerce, tourism and some agriculture.
Agricultural issues or other traditional productions and their effect on the landscape:
Palm dates.
Summary of Landscapes values and characteristics:

Chebika and Tamerza belong to a collection of special oases in northern Tunisian mountain chain. They offer perhaps the most stunning visual experience of the oases of the country. Where mountains come out, Chebika dies. Tamerza is the door of the desert.

5.2. Cultural Heritage

A) Related to current constructions, buildings and art pieces in general

Architectonical elements /Sculptures:

The houses are built preserving the traditional way of berber culture, with adobe.

In the case of gardens: original and current style:
It is not the case.
B) Related to ancient remains

  • Archaeological components:

    In Tamerza have been found several remains from Neolithic settlements that ilustrate the way of living of ancient civilization in this area.

  • Historical routes:

    Chebika was a strategic point because of its location. From this site it was possible to control several caravan routes.

  • Traces in the environment of human activity: Palm gardens. Some ancient remains.
C) Related to intangible, social and spiritual values

  • Population, ethnic groups: The oases were, in antiquity, two Roman outpost and later a mountain refuge of the Berber people.
  • Languages and dialects: Berber
  • Lifestyle, believing, cults, traditional rites: Berber customs.

5.3. Quality

Condition: environmental/ cultural heritage degradation:
Med-O-Med did not find specific information about this site. In the document "Towards a strategy for the sustainable development of tourism in the Sahara in the context of poverty eradication”, produced at UNESCO’s request by Mr Rachid in 2003, the main threats (in general) of the oases are: • climatic deterioration: the intensification of drought and its consequences on the availability of water, • the discrepancy between demographic pressure and urbanization in relation to the capacity of ecosystems, • the maladjustment of oasis-based operators in regard to economic activities (tourism services, commercial circuits), • modifications in lifestyles and consumption patterns to the detriment of local craft industries, • the absence of any change in legislation on land, water and methods of exploitation, • geographical isolation and remoteness, • the absence of adequate attention being given to the specific nature of oasis conditions in public policies, particularly in the fields of research, agriculture, education and continuing education.
Quality of the night sky, light pollution and possibility to observe the stars:
Oases are privileged sites to breath in silence, to find ourselves and to observe the pure beauty of nature, including the stars that are brighting in the night sky, free of light pollution.
Perspectives/Views/ Points of interest/Setting:

Chebika and Tamerza oases, their natural spring, lakes and cascades. The palm fields.

6. VALUES

Tangible

  • Aesthetic
  • Ethnological
  • Living heritage
The main tangible values of "Chebika and Tamerza: the Mountanous oases of Tunicia" are: -Aesthetic: Chebika is considered as "the jewel of the desert" because of its great beauty. Tamerza has a pleasant canyon. Chebika and Taberza are both small paradises surrounded by palms gardens, agricultural spots, lakes and natural cascades. The landscape of these oases is so particular that was the scenary choosen to shot many scenes of the movies: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, and The English Patient. -Living heritage, ethnological and others: The beauty and quality of the oases as a picture of human interaction with the desert, their botanical, agricultural-specially the palm fields, and the ethnological particularities.

Intangible

  • Historical
  • Mythical
The main intangible values of "Chebika and Tamerza: the Mountanous oases of Tunicia" are: -Historical: There oases are part of ancient caravan routes because of their privileged location. -Mythical: An oasis could be considered (according to UNESCO) as an image of the garden of Eden. It is the practical expression of a mythical idea. -Social significance: Chebika and Tamerza enjoy a unique cultural heritage and a society rich in berber customs and traditions with social significance. The living heritage is composed of practices that are the result of slow, patient adaptation to the hostility of the environment and the scarcity of its resources.
Authenticity:
The current oases are built on ancient ruins. Also, there have been found several remains from Neolithic settlements that ilustrate the way of living of ancient civilization in this area.
Universality:
***According to the general criteria described by UNESCO for Cultural Landscapes, Med-O-Med considers that Chebika and Tamerza oases achieve the following criteria: (iii) To bear an unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living (berber culture) or which has disappeared (Neolithic remains in Tamerza). (v)These oases of the region are an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement and land-use, which is representative of its culture , and the human interaction with the environment. It is represented in the way of farming and irrigation. (vi) The territory is strongly connected with the berber traditions. (vii) Both oases are located in sites of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance.
Values linked to the Islamic culture and civilisation:
-Historical: There oases are part of ancient caravan routes because of their privileged location. -Living heritage: the traditional way of farming and irrigation practiced in the oases, also the architectonical style, come from the Islamic culture. -Mythical values: oases could be considered as a picture of the garden of Eden, of islamic culture. -Social significance and ethnological: this territory preserve traditions of berber culture.

7. ENCLOSURES

Historical and graphical data (drawings, paintings, engravings, photographs, literary items…):

Chebika and Tamerza: the Mountanous oases of Tunicia is one of all of the cultural landscapes of Tunisia which is included in The Cultural Landscape inventory runned by Med-O-Med.

Bibliography:

http://www.commune-chebika.gov.tn http://tunez2.blogspot.com.es/2008/01/tamerza.html http://whc.unesco.org/venice2002 -Sidi Boumedine, R. (2003). The Sahara of cultures and people: Towards a strategy for the sustainable development of tourism in the Sahara, in the context of combating poverty. UNESCO, Paris. -UNESCO. (2001). Convention concerning the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage. World Heritage Committee. 25 session. Helsinki, Finland. -UNESCO. (2002). Cultural Landscapes: the Challenges of Conservation. Associated Workshops, World Heritage. Ferrara , Italy.

Compiler Data: Sara Martínez Frías.