Tunisia, Troglodyte Dwellings

Tunisia, Troglodyte Dwellings

Troglodyte dwellings are located in the south of Tunisia, in the village of Matmata. In 1970, the government began to provide an allowance to the Troglodytes, so now it is the most common Tunisian village with small houses of villagers. Originally “matmata” is the name of one of the Berber tribes that inhabited this area.

Later the name of this village became also the name of a people who built houses in the form of in-depth earthen caves with a diameter of 8 to 13 meters. In some of them you can go down only by a rope or a rope ladder.

As a rule, the “house” consists of several floors – two, and sometimes three. On the first floor there are living rooms, on the second floor there are small rooms designed for utility rooms. Since the houses are dug at a sufficiently large depth (9-12 meters), the temperature fluctuations characteristic of the desert are not felt in them, with forty-degree heat they are always cool. The earthen pit itself, which was dug out initially, is called haush.

After that, the rest of the premises (bedrooms, pantries, kitchens, small additional rooms (possibly for guests), and sometimes even cattle stalls) were pulled from the depth of a small mountain or hill. To bring the animals to the surface there were hidden passages that went a little further from the main entrance.

Each new house was built not by one family, but by the whole village, because to dig such a large hole in a solid rock, it was necessary to spend a lot of time and effort. 700 such caves are located on the territory of the village of Matmata. Now in several of them are open hotels and small restaurants for tourists.

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