Tunisia’s most impressive Punic ruins are about 15km from El Haouaria on the eastern coast of the Cap Bon Peninsula. Kerkouane dates to the 6C BC and was destroyed by the Romans in 256 BC. It was never rebuilt and was only discovered in 1952. Kerkouane gave archaeologists their first accurate picture of Carthaginian life and architecture. The single-story houses, built around a central courtyard, were sophisticated. Most have hip baths lined with pink cement. Look for the House of Tanit, which has a mosaic floor inlaid with the triangular symbol of the moon goddess at the threshold.
Kerkouane was a centre for the manufacture of a purple dye, highly prized by the Carthaginians, extracted from the murex shellfish. It is thought that around 2,500 people lived here. Many were artists and craftsmen. The museum here displays beautiful pottery and jewellery, and a carved wooden sarcophagus cover known as the ‘Princess of Kerkouane’. The site itself is a lovely spot, set along the sea with well-kept gardens and wild herbs.