The last mosaic represents a brown bear. There are 23 Roman mosaics in Northern Africa that represent a bear, sometimes called the “Atlas bear”. However all the specialist do not agree on the presence of wild bears in Northern Africa at the Roman period, though fossils show that they have been present in remote times. The question remains open whether these 23 mosaics represent indigenous bears or bears imported from Europe, for example for circus games. However, recent findings seem to show that "Atlas bears" were still living in Northern Africa a few centuries ago.
This picture is a close-up on another part of the mosaic showing a large fish which might be a Dusky grouper or Black grouper (Epinephelus guaza or Mycteroperca spp), Mérou in French, in Arab it is known as mennani ahmar or merot. It is surrounded by various shells and in the top right, there is an urchin. At the bottom of the picture, a large eel.
The close-up on the Cupid on the left shows that he is leading the dolphin with a bridle. All around the Mediterranean, there are plenty of legends of children living with dolphins or saved by dolphins, legends of dolphins harnessed by fishermen.
In the house of the Fishing, a mosaic presents two Cupids, each riding a dolphin in a sea rich with fishes of all kind. The Cupid on the right seems to be holding a large pan, may be to cook fried fish for dinner ! Is he going first to knock them down with the pan ?? Not a regular way of fishing !
The close-up on Venus shows well how the small pieces of colored and polished stones were delicately arranged to render the feeling of volume and all the smoothness of the curves of the body. They are all arranged in files underlining the movements of the body. On the arms, they follow the length of the arm. On the chest, they are arranged circularly, beginning on the tip of each breast. When each circle meets, they progressively turn to a horizontal straight line, which curves again itself to underline the belly around the nostril.
In the house of Amphitrite a superb mosaic represents Venus sitting on the back of a Centaur (a mythic creature build as a horse with a human torso) that holds a shell. In the background, the human figure with crab claws on his forehead, crab legs on his cheeks and crab antennas over his forehead might be Neptune, the God of the Seas.
Click on the miniature to enlarge the picture and see every detail.
Unlike in most Roman remains in Tunisia, most mosaics were kept in situ and not brought to the Bardo museum. Actually, only some of them have been transferred. This portrait of a young man is in good condition except the eyes that have been ruined.
The semi-circle sitting rows ý an indispensable characteristic of the theatre - are probably the thing in the best condition of all the performance in Bulla Regia. The lower three rows were for the most noble and rich folk, providing a kind of dress-circle seating. In fact, they are wider than the others, and separated by (what then was) a low wall from the seats designated for common public.
After washing, the shows :))) If you follow the road leading from the Memmian Baths to the right, you will in no time get to the well-preserved theatre, decorated near the stage with a famed Roman Tunisian mosaic ý this particular one depicting a bear.
Memmian Baths are in are a way a unique construction for the ruined settlement of Bulla Regia. That is because they are built on the ground, rather than under it. In most other locations thatýs be commonplace, not so here :)) They were named after the wife of the Roman Emperor (Tunisia was then part of the Empire) Septimius Severus ý his wife was called Julia Memmia. Situated just right of the entrance and are as good an orientation point as you might need.