It´s the first temple of the Forum, and maybe the most beautiful. Juno was considered Jupiter´s wife and the queen of Gods. On the first of May women celebrated the Matronalia a feast in honor of this godess.
It was the main temple in Sufetula and located in the Middle of the Forum between the other two temples. Jupiter was the chief of the Capitoline Triad (Jupiter, Juno and Minerva), the God of Light and also the God of War, before a battle every commander pray him for assistance.
Much of Sufetula was built after Rome had converted to Christianity so there are numerous churches and Christian ruins to see. A guide indicated to us where the baptisimal font was in one of the remains of the church.
What attracts most visitors to Sufetula is the well preserved temples, which looked spectacular in the evening light. There are three temples in the remains of the Forum - named after Minerva, Juipiter and Juno. The Roman ruins in general seem very well preserved in Tunisia and the fact that the surrounding towns haven't got many big buildings makes them look all the more spectacular.
We arrived in Sbeitla late in the afternoon after long juorney from Gafsa. The grounds of Sufetula were open until 6 so we started in the museum, which closed earlier at 5. It was only a small museum with 2 or 3 rooms of artefacts from the site and some interesting old pictures of the ruins. The pictures of the ruins in the winter snow were very evocative. It was quite difficult to imagine snow ever landing here, given how good the weather was in March.
The Arch of Triumph to the Tetrarchy was built in honor of the four Emperors (the Tetrarchate) who jointly ruled the Empire around 300 AD, just prior to the reign of Constantine the Great. The Arch is an imposing mass, with baldaquins supported by columns and the decor is quite sumptuous.
This picture shows in the background the forum and the three temples and in the foreground a press for olive oil. There remains only the still part. The millstone is gone. This kind of olive mills are still used in Tunisia, usually a camel is used to operate the grinding. On the left a 3 stones structure on which I have no information. I should pay another visit to Sbeitla next September and will look for its meaning.
This close-up on the capital of a column allows to see that it is adorned with acanthus leaves. The use of acanthus leaves is very frequent in the capitals of Roman temples. Acanthus is a plant with beautiful leaves that grow wild as a weed in all that area.
The capitals of the columns of the Temple of Jupiter sustain a frieze carved with several lines of stylized leaves. They are in good condition as there are to high to have been hammered or submitted to any kind of aggression along the centuries!
The Temple to Jupiter, in the center of the picture is the best preserved of all three. It has kept its triangular pediment while the two others have lost it completely or partially. The summits of the columns are delicately carved as can be seen on the following close-up.
The Antonine Gateway was part of the ancient city walls. It has 3 archways that were closed by wooden doors. It gives access to the Forum of Sbeitla. An inscription carved in its basement refers to Emperor Antonius Pious and his two adopted sons, Marcus Aurelius, the future Emperor and philosopher, and Licius Verus, allows to date its building to 138-161 AD.
The Forum of Sbeitla is an almost square, wide esplanade, paved with stone slabs. Its size is a testimony of the importance of the city and of its wealth. It was surrounded by a portico of which remain only the columns. In the background the 3 temples dedicated respectively to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva, the 3 main Roman gods.
This smal but interesting museum is located just in front of the site, it has some good mosaics and a great statue of Baco found in the Theater.
The third temple of the Forum and dedicated to the Godess Minerva. Her name meant spiritual power, and she was the protector of arts and crafts.
The Forum consist of three temples dedicated to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. They all are very well preserved and give a good idea of how was the city in the days of splendour.