The Phoenicians founded Hadrumetum in the 11th century B.C.
Roman and Vandal eras
The city allied itself with Rome during the Punic Wars, thereby escaping damage or ruin and entered a relatively peaceful 700-year period under the Pax Romana. Livy tells us that Hadrumetum was the landing place of the Roman army under Scipio Africanus in the second Punic War.
As part of Bonifacius's revolt against Constantinople, the Vandals were invited in and they took Hadrumetum in 434 CE and renamed the town Hunerikopolis. During the Vandalic War Justinian retook the town in 534 CE and restored its Roman name.
In the 7th century A.D. Arab-Islamic armies conquered what is now Tunisia and rapidly spread Arab culture across what had been a thoroughly Romanized and Christianized landscape. The Arabs seized the city, which in the aftermath of Rome's fall was but a remnant of its former self. They renamed the city Sūsa and within a few decades elevated it to the status of the main seaport of the Aghlabid Dynasty. When the Aghlabids invaded Sicily in 827, Sūsa was their main staging ground.
In the centuries that followed, as Europe gained technological ascendancy and began pushing back at Islam, Sūsa was briefly occupied by the Normans in the 12th century, was later more thoroughly occupied by the Spanish, and in the 18th century was the target of bombardments by the Venetians and the French. The French called the city Sousse.
Despite the turmoil around it, Sousse's character had retained the solidly Arabian look and feel it had assumed in the centuries after Islam's wars of conquest. Today it is considered one of the best examples of seaward-facing fortifications built by the Arabs. Its ribat, a soaring structure that combined the purposes of a minaret and a watch tower, is in outstanding condition and draws visitors from around the world.