• Keywords: Tunisia, Cultural Landscape, Djerba, archaeological remains, catacombes, roman temple, roman graves, Meninx, souq, mosques, synagogue, phoenicians, ancient mediterranean comerce.

1. OFFICIAL CLASSIFICATIONS AND CATEGORIES

1.1 National and International Classification Lists

Djerba Island Cultural Landscape is in the Tentative List of UNESCO (name: Île de Djerba), with date of submission: 17/02/2012, criteria: (v)(vi), category: cultural and ref.: 5686.

  • Tentative List of UNESCO

1.2. Cultural Landscape Category/Tipology

Organically evolved landscapes
Relict (or fossil) landscape
Associative cultural landscape
1

1.3. Description and Justification by Med-O-Med

Description

Djerba is, at 514 km², the largest island of North Africa, located in the Gulf of Gabes, off the coast of Tunisia. The site has both natural and cultural values that Med-O-Med has taken in consideration, defining the site as one Cultural Landscape: continuous and associate 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): -Its Natural Heritage Components: Located in the gulf of Gabes, south of Tunisia, the island is a magical mosaic composed by desert, pretty coastal areas and rural fields with palm gardens, olives trees and small farms. -Its Cultural heritage Components: Djerba island has some beatiful and touristical villages with cultural interest, as Midoun, the main touristical point in the island, Guellala Djerba, El Mey, or Houmt Souk, a lovely village plenty of white houses, mosques and souqs full of activity. The island has a long history related to commerce, since phoenicies until recent times. Carthage and Rome have left archaeological remains, Christians are implanted early, before it was invaded by the Vandals and the Byzantines and Arabs. It became a haven for pirates in the fifteenth century, after centuries of struggle against the Spanish invaders or Norman. The archaeological heritage of the island has a great value: Harb Bosson mausoleum, Meninx ancient city, the turkish fort of Mustapha Ghazi…There are a lot of churches, mosques and synagogues in the island, and this rich cultural heritage does not hide the beauty and quality of the natural landscapes.

2. NAME / LOCATION / ACCESSIBILITY

  • Current denomination Djerba.
  • Current denomination Djerba.
  • Original denomination Djerba (Tunisian Arabic: جربة), Jerba or Jarbah.
  • Popular denomination Djerba, Jerba or Jarbah.
  • Address: Djerba is the largest island of North Africa, located in the Gulf of Gabes, off the coast of Tunisia, Mednine Governorate.
  • Area, boundaries and surroundings: Djerba is, at 514 km², the largest island of North Africa, located in the Gulf of Gabes, off the coast of Tunisia. The capital of the island is Houmt Souk. The island comprises three of the delegations within the Tunisian Département of Médenine. Named after the three towns which form their administrative centres, these delegations (with their 2004 Census populations in brackets) are Djerba Houmt Souk (64,919), Djerba Midoun (50,459) and Djerba Ajim (24,166) – the island's population at the Census thus totalling 139,544.
  • Access and transport facilities: Airport in Houmt Essouk: Airport Djerba - Zarzis (AIJZ).

3. LEGAL ISSUES

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

4. HISTORY

Legend has it that Djerba was the island of the Lotus-Eaters where Odysseus stranded on his voyage through the Mediterranean. The island, called Meninx until the third century AD, included three principal towns. One of these, whose modern name is Būrgū, is found near Midoun in the center of the island. Another city, on the southeast coast of the island at Meninx, was a major producer of murex dye, cited by Pliny the Elder as second only to Tyre in this regard. A third important town was probably the ancient Haribus. The island was densely inhabited in the Roman and Byzantine periods, and probably imported much of the grain consumed by its inhabitants. Ghazi Mustapha Fort, Djerba, Tunisia During the Middle Ages, it was occupied by members of the Kharejite sect, known as the Ibadites. The Christians of Sicily and Aragon disputed its possession with the Ibadites of the island. Remains from this period include numerous small mosques dating as early as the twelfth century, as well as two substantial forts. The island was controlled twice by the Norman Kingdom of Sicily: in 1135–1158 and in 1284–1333. During the second of these periods it was organised as a feudal lordship, with the following Lords of Jerba: 1284–1305 Roger I, 1305–1307 and 1307–1310 Roger II (twice), 1310 Charles, 1310 Francis-Roger III, there were also royal governors, partially overlapping with the lordship terms: c. 1305–1308 Simon de Montolieu, 1308–1315 Raymond Montaner. In 1503, the corsair Aruj and his brother Hayreddin Barbarossa took control of the island and turned it into their main base in the western Mediterranean, bringing it under Ottoman control. Spain launched a disastrous attempt to capture it in November, 1510. In 1513, after three years in exile in Rome, the Fregosi family returned to Genoa, Ottaviano was elected Doge, and his brother Federigo Fregosi (archbishop, later cardinal), having become his chief counsellor, was placed at the head of the army, and defended the republic against internal dangers (revolts of the Adorni and the Fieschi) and external dangers, notably suppression of the Barbary piracy: Cortogoli, a corsair from Tunis, blockaded the coast with a squadron, and within a few days had captured eighteen merchantmen, being given the command of the Genoese fleet, in which Andrea Doria was serving, Federigo surprised Cortogoli before Bizerta, effected a descent on the island of Djerba and returned to Genoa with great booty. El Ghriba synagogue Spanish forces returned to Djerba in 1520, and this time were successful in capturing the island. It was twice occupied by Spain, from 1521 to 1524 and from 1551 to 31 July 1560, again there were governors: 1521–1524 …, 1560 Giovanni Andrea Doria. On May 14, 1560, the Ottoman fleet under the command of Piyale Pasha and Turgut Reis severely defeated the Holy League of Philip II at the Battle of Djerba. Djerba belonged to the Ottoman regency of Tunis until 1881, subsequently under the French colonial protectorate, which became the modern republic of Tunisia. An archaeological field survey of Jerba, carried out under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania, the American Academy in Rome and the Tunisian Instiut National du Patrimoine between 1995 and 2000, revealed over 400 archaeological sites, including many Punic and Roman villas. In the Ghriba synagogue bombing on April 11, 2002, a truck full of explosives was detonated close to the famous synagogue, killing 21 people (14 German tourists, 5 Tunisians and 2 Frenchmen). Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility. For a time tourists ceased visiting Djerba, but normal activity has since resumed.

5. GENERAL DESCRIPTION

5.1. Natural heritage

  • Heritage: Archaeological
  • Geography: Coastal area
  • 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
Natural springs, lakes, rivers and sea.
Land uses and economical activities:
Tourism, fishery, agriculture, comerce. Djerba has a mild climate and a well cultivated soil. Its largest city is Houmt-Souk, with a population of around 65,000. The island is a popular tourist destination, particularly with French, German and Italian tourists, and is known for its beautiful beaches and dramatic sunsets.
Agricultural issues or other traditional productions and their effect on the landscape:
Palm gardens, olives trees and other crops.
Summary of Landscapes values and characteristics:

Located in the gulf of Gabes, south of Tunisia, the island is a magical mosaic composed by desert, pretty coastal areas and rural fields with palm gardens, olives trees and small farms. The island has some beatiful and touristical villages with cultural interest, as Midoun, the main touristical point in the island, Guellala Djerba, El Mey, or Houmt Souk. Also, the archaeological heritage of the island has a great value: Harb Bosson mausoleum, Meninx ancient city, the turkish fort Mustapha Ghazi…There are a lot of churches, mosques and synagogues in the island.

5.2. Cultural Heritage

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

Architectonical elements /Sculptures:

Mosques: Side Smael Side Jmousi Mosque Trouk Mosque EL Bassi Subterranean mosque of Sedouikech Mosque Tlakin Mosque Medrajen Mosque Fadhloun Mosque Ghorba Mosque Haouari

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

  • Archaeological components:

    Main archaeological points: -Djerba Bougou -Djerba Catacombes -Djerba roman temple -El Jem: A magnificently preserved Roman Coliseum. -Matmata: Special underground homes that have been carved out of the rocks. -Meninx: The archaeological site of Meninx, founded by the Phoenicians in the land of the island to the 10th century BC. AD keeps many vestiges of this city that was the time of the Romans, the capital of the island, the island was a crossroads of trade between Africa, the East and the West for many centuries. This explains aspects of prosperity we see on the site. Not far from the ancient Meninx, stand the ruins of El Kantara (literally, “bridge “), a 6 km long causeway built by the Romans to link Djerba to the coast. At this time Roman was always Pioneer in urban architecture, their work reflects a great experience and a rich culture in urban planning, it remains today as the famous ruins. A road was built in 1951 at the former site of the ancient Kantara, Djerba to connect to the shoreline. -Houmt Souq: Houmt Souq is the small capital of the island of Djerba. It is a sociable, busy, little town, with its small yet lively souk, wide streets with modern buildings and a picturesque fishing port. Arabs and Jews (mostly silversmiths and goldsmiths) live peacefully alongside each other here. Do not miss out the interesting, small museum, as the building itself is even worth a visit. Here you can find many aspects of daily life on Djerba, such as jewels, old Korans, traditional clothing and the huge jars that these are preserved in. A chance discovery of around 100 Roman graves was made recently near el Kantara on the island of Djerba.

  • Historical routes:

    Because of its geographical situation the island was considered as the “supermarket” of the ancient Mediterranean.

  • Traces in the environment of human activity: Ancient remains. Agriculture.
C) Related to intangible, social and spiritual values

  • Languages and dialects: Berber
  • Lifestyle, believing, cults, traditional rites: Djerba is noted as a center of the Islamic sect Al-Ibadhiyah and is also noted for its Jewish minority, which has dwelt on the island for more than 2,500 years, although the Jewish population has declined due to emigration to Israel and France since 1967. The El Ghriba synagogue on Djerba is over 2,000 years old and is as such the oldest and one of the most famous in the world. It was once known as the island of the Kohanim, Hebrew for the Jewish Priestly caste, a large percentage of the community being direct Patrilineal descendants of Aaron the first high priest. Djerba also has a sizeable minority of Maltese Catholics, who established themselves on the island as sponge-fishers.

5.3. Quality

Perspectives/Views/ Points of interest/Setting:

-The natural landscape of the island. -The churches, mosques and synagogues. -The archaeological remains already described in this file.

6. VALUES

Tangible

  • Aesthetic
  • Archaeological
  • Architectonical
The main tangible values of "Djerba Island Cultural Landscape" are: -Aesthetic: The island is really very beatiful, its beaches, the golden dunes, the palm fields, the small villages... -Archaeological/architectonical: There are a lot of mosques, churches, and synagogues scattered around the island. There are also archaeological remains as catacombes, the roman temple, or the ancient city of Meninx, with great value. The main intangible values of "Djerba Island Cultural Landscape" are: -Historical: The island has a long history related to commerce, since phoenicies until recent times. Carthage and Rome have left archaeological remains, Christians are implanted early, before it was invaded by the Vandals and the Byzantines and Arabs. It became a haven for pirates in the fifteenth century, after centuries of struggle against the Spanish invaders or Norman. -Religious: All the mosques etc show the religious importance of the site. Djerba is noted as a center of the Islamic sect Al-Ibadhiyah and is also noted for its Jewish minority. Djerba also has a sizeable minority of Maltese Catholics.
Authenticity:
The archaeological site of Meninx was founded by the Phoenicians in the land of the island to the 10th century BC.
Universality:
Med-O-Med agrees the UNESCO criteria (v, vi) described in the Tentative List: v) The kind of soil occupation of the island is an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, and sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment. Djerba island is described as a Cultural Landscape by UNESCO. vi) The territory is strongly associates to the ancient an medieval mediterranean history. Because of its geographical situation the island was considered as the "supermarket" of the ancient Mediterranean.
Values linked to the Islamic culture and civilisation:
-Architectonical/Religious: there are a lot of mosques scattered around the island that preserve the islamic architectonical style. Also, Djerba is noted as a center of the Islamic sect Al-Ibadhiyah and is also noted for its Jewish minority. Djerba also has a sizeable minority of Maltese Catholics.

7. ENCLOSURES

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

Djerba Island Cultural Landscape 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://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5686/ http://whc.unesco.org/venice2002 http://jerba.be/ http://www.djerbatourisme.com/djerba/ http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com.es/2012/02/roman-cemetery-discovered-in-djerba.html#. http://www.tunisietourismes.com/en/Tunisian-archaeological-tourism-djerba.html -Fentress, E, et al. (2009). An Island through Time: Jerba Studies vol 1. The Punic and Roman Periods. Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplementary series 71. -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.

Practical Information:
Another factor drawing some tourists to Djerba is the 1977 location of the Mos Eisley exterior scenes in the first Star Wars movie, filmed in the town of Ajim.

Compiler Data: Sara Martínez Frías.