Carthage was founded by Phoenicians in one of the most strategically important geographic locations in the Mediterranean and one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, the Bay of Tunis. Situated at the bottom of a gulf in the middle of the Mediterranean, on the north-east of Tunisia, Carthage controlled rigorously, watchfully and discretely the Strait of Sicily, a crossing point linking the East and West part of the Mediterranean.

The legendary achievements of Hannibal  illustrate the strategic position in the Mediterranean and the domination of Carthage. This “epopee” (218-203 AC) is made ​​at the height of the construction of the hydraulic works of Carthage: the construction of the Cisterns of Malaga (3rd century BC) and the completion of the aqueduct between Carthage and Zaghouan (2nd century BC).

In the recent history, by 1888 the city of Tunis is confined in the suburbs and protected by the ramparts: the medina.The area is surrounded by two major rivers, the wadi Medjerda from the north and the wadi Milianeto from the south. Nonetheless, these two waterways are not easily accessed from Tunis: mountains in the north and lakes and sabkha in the south prevent easy access to their waters. Moreover, the sudden and violent floods that characterized these wadis were a restraining factor for the people of Tunis, who wanted to avoid the risk of flooding.

                    Image courtesy of Hydria Virtual Museum
Chartography of the city of Tunis and its surroundings of 1888.

Hydria Virtual Museum

Tunis however boasts two major advantages: the relative wealth of the underground watertable and the high average rainfall (450 mm/yr) which is sufficient to fill the public and private cisterns of the city.

Next: Waterworks