Libya invites archaeology teams to excavate sites

There is interesting news in a Reuters report, Long-isolated Libya plans archaeology drive

Libya plans to invite the world’s top archaeologists to unearth its ancient past as it tries to lure more tourists after decades in isolation, the head of the government’s archaeology department said. …

We will open our arms to the best scientists from Japan to the United States. We will not exclude one major institution, be it Oxford, Cambridge, the Sorbonne or Rome,” said Giuma Anag, chairman of the government’s archaeology department. …

The archaeology campaign is backed by leader Muammar Gaddafi’s most prominent son, Saif al-Islam, who recently approved setting up of a society for safeguarding archaeology that would coordinate the work of foreign and local researchers.

“It is a huge acceleration,” Anag told Reuters. “We never had this kind of support before.” …

With a low population and dry climate, Libya’s secrets are well preserved. Historians say the vast desert was once savannah that supported small communities of which little is known. …

Key discoveries were made in recent years by French researcher Andre Laronde at the ancient Greek port of Apollonia in Cyrenaica, birthplace of the philosopher and mathematician Erastosthenes.

The question for me is whether there might be papyri out there. Is anyone looking? Should someone be?


Visit Leptis Magna in Libya using Google Maps

The magnificent Roman city of Leptis Magna is one that few have visited. Fewer still have walked across the silted-up harbour basin to the eastern wharves, or visited the lighthouse at the tip of the western mole, because the site is so large.

So I was delighted to find that we can all go now, thanks to Google maps! (Although pasting this into a blog post is quite tricky, since the visual editor corrupts the tags…)

So let’s visit the city and take a tour! Below the overview image, I’ve noted some sights. Click on the links to open Google maps on the relevant area!

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Note the circular blob to the right of the scrambled area — that’s the mighty amphitheatre, hewn out of a quarry in a hill. The seats are so steep that I felt quite ill standing at the top!

Above it in the same picture is a stadium, in the characteristic oval shape, with a spine down the middle. Apparently substantial remains stood here until the 17th century, when a French adventurer used it as a quarry for stone.

The scrambled area runs along the eastern wharf and covers the harbour entrance and lighthouse. West of it is the harbour; west of that is the main city, with the old forum, and the unbelievably splendid new forum and basilica of Septimius Severus (which includes an inscription recording his campaign in Britain).

Also there is the nymphaeum, whose broken concrete tanks show that this temple of the water deities fronted the city reservoir. The enormous baths are well preserved to a considerable height, complete with toilet block and marble seats; the corner of two streets is in the same picture.

At the entrance to the city is the reconstructed triumphal arch of Septimius Severus. Back inside the city is the theatre; to the east of that some shopping areas and an arch of Titus.