(© AFP/File - Fethi Belaid)
Under the direction of Jean-Paul Morel and his team the excavation brought to light from a depth of five metres below the modern surface the skeleton of a young man aged between 19 and 24 years old. The skeleton (below right) was more than 2,500 years old, thus the young man died sometime in the 6th century BC.
An anthropological study of the skeleton showed that the man had a pretty robust physique and was 1.7 metres (five feet six inches) tall. The cause of his death is not known. He was buried with gems, scarabs, amulets and other items, and therefore may have belonged to the Carthaginian elite.
The young man, whose actual name is not known, was given the name Ariche, meaning ‘the desired man’ by Minister of Culture Abderraouf Basti, and was repatriated to Tunisia on September 24 to appear in an exhibition at Byrsa alongside the objects found in his tomb.
Ariche is dressed in a white linen tunic, sandals in the ancient Carthaginian style, and a pendant and beads like those found with his skeleton. He will be on show at Byrsa until the end of March 2011 when he will travel to Lebanon, the land of the Phoenicians who founded Carthage, for an exhibition at the American University of Beirut. In the meantime, he is proving a popular attraction for Tunisians, providing them with a visible link to their Carthaginian roots.