Zarzis Museum

The Zarzis Museum is a Tunisian archaeological and heritage museum, one of the latest museums in Tunisia. which has the particularity of bringing together archeology and anthropology and, likewise, between history and contemporary lifestyle.

It occupies the former Notre-Dame de la Garde Catholic Church built in 1920, at the time of the French protectorate located in the Southern Territories, which remained under military administration until the independence of Tunisia, the city of Zarzis counts too few Christians at the time of the protectorate for the archdiocese of Carthage to consider it useful to build a church in this remote and turbulent region which depends on the parish of Gabès.

The arrival of Father Gabriel Deshayes in September 1913 would upset this situation. Affiliated with the congregation of Notre-Dame de Sion, he criss-crossed the south of the country for two years. Appointed military chaplain at the head of this immense territory in October 1915, he sold all the goods he owned to dedicate them to the construction of churches.

After building the Notre-Dame-des-Victoires church in Tataouine in 1918, he moved to Zarzis in 1920, where at the time there were only a few French settlers and Maltese and Italian families. Housed with a resident who also provided him with food, he celebrated services in a converted store where it rained in winter and scorched in summer. Encouraged by his success in Tataouine, he bought land for 950 francs and, becoming an architect, mason and quarryman, undertook to build a church in the style of the country.

After independence, the church was finally closed on the occasion of the modus vivendi signed between the Tunisian government and the Vatican on July 10, 1964. The building was transferred free of charge with the assurance that it would only be used for purposes of public interest compatible with its former purpose. It was then transformed into an archaeological and heritage museum after the bell tower was replaced by a dome.

Reopened in 2003, this museum presents the history of the Zarzis peninsula and the most important ancient sites in the southern region through archaeological pieces but also everyday objects that have survived the centuries.

The Carthaginian period is represented by an amphora extracted from a wreck and bearing an epitaph in Punic characters as well as by a wooden sarcophagus dated from the 4th century BC. J.-C.

The collections which are exhibited in this museum present to the public objects from excavations carried out in the various archaeological sites of the almost island of Zarzis and which go back to the different civilizations which have succeeded one another on Tunisian soil.

In a second part, the visitor becomes acquainted with the way of life of the Akkaras (the population of the peninsula) in their ancestral relations with the land, with the sea and… with others, through trade.

A model of the site of Gigthis recalls the importance of economic exchanges in Roman times, illustrated by the statues and stelae of Zita (Zian) and the collections of Punic and Roman ceramics from the sites of Chammakh, Ras Lemsa and Al Alindaya .

The visitor can also contemplate the tools and instruments used by the Zarzissians in the three activities that have marked their daily life since Antiquity, namely the cultivation of the olive tree, fishing and trade.

The Zarzis museum in pictures

Musée de Zarzis
Musée de Zarzis

The Zarzis museum in video

The museum on the map