On the northwestern coast of Libya, the extensive archaeological site of Leptis Magna is one of the most splendid and unspoiled Roman sites in the Mediterranean. The ancient city encompasses some of the finest Roman monuments that were ever built.
Founded by the Phoenicians at the beginning of the 1st millennium BC, the colony existed without real influence until the 4th century BC when Carthage became a Mediterranean force. The town eventually became part of the Roman Republic (and then Roman Empire) and it was integrated in to the province of Africa around 46 BC. The city was expanded and became a major trading centre and leading city of Roman Africa during the reign of Roman Emperor Augustus and Tiberius.
The city reached its glorious pinnacle during the reign of Lucius Septimius Severus (193-211 AD), who was born there and the first Roman Emperor to be from Africa (he was of Phoenician rather than black African descent).
Severus mastered and instigated an ambitious building program that incorporated the latest and finest architectural and artistic elements, which completely transformed the city into one that was the envy of the Roman world.
What is observed now is chiefly from this remarkable age. There after the city was plundered and then become a stronghold of the Byzantine and then the Arabs. The drifting sands of the Sahara helped its preservation by burying the city over several centuries.
Leptis Magna is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are five UNESCO World Heritage sites in Libya – Archaeological Site of Cyrene. Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna. Archaeological Site of Sabratha. Old Town of Ghadames and the Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus.
All images, text and content are copyright Steven Sklifas.