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Archaeology Sites in Libya

Ancient Sabratha

Sabratha began life as a Carthaginian trading post. With its excellent natural harbour on a long, straight coast, it became a permanent settlement in the 4th century BC to act as a terminal for the trans Saharan trade. Under the Romans, development continued and Sabratha became one of the three great cities of Roman Tripolitania, along with Leptis and Ocean (modern Tripoli.). It does not match Leptis Magna for its range and richness of buildings, but it is still impressive. The coastal location is magnificent the theatre, the largest in Africa, is superb. The stage platform or pulpit is over 40 metres wide, and fronted by a white marble frieze featuring mythological characters. There are Byzantine mosaics indicating a post Vandal revival and Italian excavations and some reconstruction have made it well worth a visit.


Excavations in the late 1940s revealed evidence that there had been a seasonal Punic trading post before the actual stone city was built. In the 3rd and 4th centuries BC, the city continued to develop. As of the 2nd century BC, Sabratha seems to have grown richer, becoming a major population centre. Two imposing mausolea testify to the wealth of Sabratha at this time.

Rebuilding Sabratha
Serous archaeological work on Sabratha began in 1927. Giacome Guidi ran the excavations from 1928 to 1932. In 1932, Guidi started to rebuild the theatre, a task continued by his successor Giacome Caputo from 1937. The whole building had been destroyed by an earthquake. Guidi and Caputo found most of the original masonry and the result gives the visitor a very real feel for what a Roman theatre must have been like.

Touring the site
There are publications and artefacts on show at the museum. The site is open from 0800-sunset daily, the museum is closed Mon. Sabratha is about an hours journey time from Tripoli, making an easy day trip.

Leptis Magna

The ruins of Leptis Magna, in east of Tripoli, second Roman port in Africa, must be among the most impressive ancient sites in the Mediterranean. There is a noble triumphal arch, and vast baths, famous in antiquity. In early modern times, sands covered the site, preserving it for 20th century archaeologists to discover.

Archaeological Sites In Fezzan

The Fezzan is rich in pre historic sites where well preserved cave paintings can be viewed. The artwork depicting antelope, elephant and giraffe like animals and human hunters dates from 6000-3000 BC.

The main sites are at Akakus and Tashinat; close to Ghat in the Wadi Fuet; at Zinkera in the western Garma, and at Wadi Buzna.

Libya is famous for the remains of the Garamantian civilization of the Wadi Al-Ajal, west of Sabha. The centre was Garma, established about 2000 BC, and only rediscovered in the 1960s. A series of ruins and sites are open for visitors to the Wadi Al-Ajal. Nearby Garma are the tombs of Saniat Jebril and Ben Howaidi. Other tombs and cemeteries include the tombs of Ahramat Al-Hatiyah, the royal cemetery to the south of Garma, the cemeteries at Bent Hayah and Budrinnah, and Al-Khareyk.
There are the remains of forts at Al-Abeiad and Al-Gullah where excavations at the site have not been finished.

All Libyan monuments are open 0800-1700 and are normally closed on Tuesday.
Permits are required from the Ghat police stations to visit the Akakus region.

Last Updated on Sunday 22nd November 2009

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