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Urban water supply and discharge in punic city Kerkouane, Tunisia

The city of Kerkouane was built on a strategic geographical location. It is characterised by its proximity to the Sicily Channel (the closest point between Africa and Sicily therefore the European continent). Kerkouane is also halfway between the two famous ports, Carthage in the north and Hadrumete in the south.

Ancient Kerkuane spread over an on an area of about 7-9 hactares and housed about 2,000 people. It was a rich and well operated settlement with most of its resources deriving from hinterland. The economic and social development of the city is linked to the diversity of the activities of its population, namely trade, handcrafts, and agriculture.

The “Good Cape” region belongs to a geomorphological landscape where there are two Tyrrhenian formations: Douira (old Tyrrhenian) and Rejiche. Both contribute to the region’s topography. By the eastern side, parallel to the current shoreline, stretches a Rejiche bead.

In Tunisia, in general, and in the region of Kerkouane more precisely, water issue is acute, since ancient times, for several reasons:

  • First, it is an area devoid of rivers, which could provide water continuously. So no permanent surface water resource is available. Although the city hinterland has a fertile soil, it requires an extra supply of water in all seasons for agriculture to be developed.
  • The region's climate, typically Mediterranean, is semi-arid with modest amounts of rainfall (400 – 500 mm per year) and a quite long hot and dry season (lasting 4 to 5 months). Local people are then obliged to find the best solutions to supply satisfactory water quality and quantity, for domestic needs and for different urban and suburban activities.