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Author Topic: Cyrenaica  (Read 218 times)
Description: Cyrene was the leading city of the Libyan Pentapolis
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« on: September 12, 2007, 11:01:33 AM »

Coin of Ophellas (c.355-308): Macedonian officer, served under Alexander the Great and Ptolemy*

Libya to protect past treasures with huge eco project

In a country that is mostly desert, Libya wants to preserve a rare verdant region with archaeological treasures from the ravages of looting and encroaching urbanisation.

To meet that ambitious goal the north African country has launched the world's first large-scale conservation and sustainable development project in the mountainous region of Djebal Al-Akhdhar (Green Mountain), about 1,200 kilometres (750 miles) from the capital Tripoli.

The massive ecological and cultural project, encompassing a region nearly the size of Wales, will be headed by the son of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi.

"It is time to join developed countries and make a statement that we are also concerned about the environment and culture," said Seif al-Islam Kadhafi at the project launch.

It took place at Libya's ancient Greek city of Cyrene, dating back to 631 BC, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the heart of the Green Mountain region.

Seif al-Islam, wearing traditional clothes, chose an imposing location to declare the country's commitment to sustainable development.

Standing at the foot of the monumental columns of the ancient Temple of Zeus overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, he said that the protected zone would extend for some 5,500 square kilometres (2,000 square miles) along 200 kilometres of coastline, making it the largest project of its kind.

"This treasure is not just for Libyans but for all mankind," he said.

The Libyan government has founded the Green Mountain Conservation and Development Authority, including engineers, archaeologists and experts on the environment and sustainable development, to steer the massive project and secure the necessary foreign investment.

The vision for this rare region of Libya includes eco-tourism, conservation of animals and plant life, clean industries and renewable energy.

The regional plan is being developed by the firm of renowned British architect Norman Foster, whose global projects include Beijing Airport, the Millau Viaduct in France, and the restoration of the Reichstag in Berlin.

"This is one of the most beautiful and little known landscapes on Earth," Foster said in a statement, calling it a unique challenge "to establish a sustainable blueprint for future development" in the Green Mountain region.

Such a major undertaking needs "foreign assistance and help," said Seif al-Islam, who heads the Kadhafi Foundation for Development and also Libya's Red Crescent Society.

Only about 10 percent of Libya's ancient treasures can be seen today as most of its cultural wealth still needs to be dug up.

"We have promises and I hope a commitment from the European Union to help us with our project to restore and rebuild the ancient cities in Libya," he said.

Joseph Stanislaw, an energy adviser, says the project is unique "because of the scale, size and holistic approach.

"The preservation of the beauty here is the way to develop industries and create a vibrant local economy and maintain the culture of the region."

The cost of a project of this scale will be "billions and billions of dollars," added the president of The JAStanislaw Group. No official cost estimate was announced.

Stanislaw said that financing will be split between foreign investors, the Libyan government and foundations.

The project's timing is critical as the Green Mountain region was on the brink of an environmental and cultural catastrophe, said Jomaa Anag, head of the Libya's department of archaeology.

Forest fires and urbanisation have destroyed vast swathes of the region's forestland, which now amounts to about 180,000 hectares (445,000 acres) compared with 500,000 hectares 20 years ago.

* Ophellas was born in Pella as the son of a Macedonian nobleman named Silenus. He was probably educated at the court of king Philip II (359-336) and queen Olympias, because he was later considered as one of the closest friends of the crown prince, Alexander the Great. We know nothing about Ophellas' youth and career during Alexander's reign (336-323), except for the fact that he was one of the trierarchs during Alexander's return from India. These officials were responsible for the building of the navy, and we know that only the most important courtiers were chosen for this important office (text).

After the death of Alexander, Ophellas sided with Ptolemy, the new satrap of Egypt and another personal friend of Alexander. Ptolemy had understood the situation in Alexander's empire better than anyone else: after the death of the conqueror, it was impossible to keep his possessions together, especially since his brother and successor Philip Arridaeus was mentally unfit to rule. Ptolemy saw that only smaller kingdoms had any chance of survival, and tried to become independent. Arridaeus' regent, Perdiccas, still tried to maintain the empire's unity and attacked Egypt in 320, but after a defeat, he was killed by his own officers Peithon, Antigenes, and Seleucus.

Map of Cyrenaica. Design Jona Lendering.
Cyrenaica (�**)
Ptolemy could be successful, because his rear was covered by Ophellas. In 323/322, a Spartan mercenary leader named Thibron had arrived in Cyrenaica, a group of five Greek towns in Libya. He carried with him a large treasure: all Babylonian taxes of the years 330-325. This was sufficient to start a small kingdom, and he had some success. However, the native Libyans appealed to Ptolemy, who recognized an opportunity when he was offered one: he immediately sent Ophellas with a small army to the west, to support the Libyans and occupy Cyrenaica. It was (probably) Ophellas' first independent command, but he was successful: in the winter of 322/321, Thibron was executed, and Cyrenaica and the Libyan tribes allied themselves to Ptolemy. Moreover, the treasure was sent to Egypt. Ptolemy could quietly wait for Perdiccas, knowing that he would not be attacked in his rear. As we have already seen, he won an important victory.

Meanwhile, Ophellas remained in Cyrenaica as Ptolemy's viceroy. He founded a new harbor, called Ptolemais, which was destined to become one of the most important towns in ancient Libya. In 313/312, there was a brief crisis; the details are unclear, but Ophellas stayed on as ruler of Cyrenaica.

In fact, it is possible that he de facto became independent. He was certainly independent in 309, when he allied himself to Agathocles, the tyrant of Syracuse. It is not likely that Ophellas was still collaborating with Ptolemy, because the terms of the treaty between Agathocles and Ophellas were, as we shall see in a moment, not in Ptolemy's advantage.

Agathocles had tried to conquer Sicily. This had brought him into conflict with Carthage, which possessed the western half of this island. In the summer of 311, the Carthaginian general Hamilcar, had won such a complete victory over Agathocles, that he was able to proceed to the siege of Syracuse. Although this city was strongly fortified, Agathocles had no effective army, and he had decided upon a desperate gamble: in August 310, he had sailed away from Sicily, and had invaded the Carthaginian homeland, Africa (modern Tunisia). Here, he won a brilliant victory, and he proceeded against Carthage itself.

At this stage, he concluded the treaty with Ophellas. The ruler of Cyrenaica was to bring new soldiers, and in return would be made Agathocles' governor at Carthage. To Ophellas, this offered beautiful prospects: being the viceroy of two masters, in territories that were separated from his master's countries by the sea and the desert, he would have almost regal powers. (This was of course unacceptable to Ptolemy.) Ophellas recruited many mercenaries, especially from Athens, and started his march to Carthage in the late summer of 308. Two months later, he arrived in Africa.

Almost immediately, the two commanders started to quarrel, and Ophellas was assassinated in November. It is possible that Agathocles had planned the murder all along, maybe in cooperation with Ptolemy (both men were quite capable of an intrigue like that). However this may be, Ophellas' mercenaries had little choice and sided with Agathocles, who left them behind, returned to Sicily, and concluded a peace treaty with Carthage that left him in control of Sicily east of the Halycus. The mercenaries, left alone, were killed by the Carthaginians.

Ophellas had been married to an Athenian lady named Eurydice, a descendant of Miltiades, the famous general who had defeated the Persians at Marathon (490). She returned to Athens, where she married Demetrius Poliorcetes.

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« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2007, 11:04:17 AM »

View across the Apollo sanctuary at Cyrene, looking toward the seacoast (� Cyrenaica Archaeological Project)
Nearly a century ago, a mission from the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) began excavations at Cyrene, a classical site on the eastern coast of Libya. The work came to an abrupt end, however, with the death of its assistant director.

Beginning in 1969, a second American mission, sponsored first by the University of Michigan and then by the University of Pennsylvania, explored much of the Sanctuary of Demeter and Persephone just outside the city walls. This work, too, came to a halt with the increasing conflict between the American and Libyan governments in 1981. Although fieldwork was suspended, publication of the results continued (11 monographs on the excavation have appeared to date).

Today, a new American mission is returning to Cyrene, the Cyrenaica Archaeological Project (CAP), to resume its work and renew collaborative efforts with the Libyan Department of Antiquities. Leading the project are Donald White, who directed the excavations begun in 1969, and Susan Kane of Oberlin College, who is the AIA's vice president for publications.

The temple of Zeus at Cyrene (� Cyrenaica Archaeological Project)

Return to Cyrene
Mark Rose

Drought gripped the Aegean island of Thera in the middle of the seventh century B.C. Desperate, the islanders sent an embassy to Delphi, to ask the oracle of Apollo for advice. There, the priestess told them to found a colony in Libya. Whether the story is legend or fact--it is recorded variously by poets, historians, and on ancient inscriptions--a Greek colony was established at Cyrene around 630 B.C. on an exceptionally fertile, well-watered plateau eight miles from the coast. Melding with the local population, the colonists flourished and, for a thousand years, their city was a leading center of commerce and culture in the eastern Mediterranean.

Explorations at Cyrene, conducted by American, Italian, British, and Libyan archaeologists, have taken place for nearly a century. As early as 1884, the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) began considering an expedition to Cyrene. In 1910, Richard Norton, son of AIA founder Charles Eliot Norton, led a team to the site, but the excavation was cut short after his assistant, Herbert Fletcher De Cou, was murdered (his killers were never identified). It was a half century before Americans returned. In 1969, a mission directed by Donald White and sponsored first by the University of Michigan and then by the University of Pennsylvania, began excavations at what proved to be one of the largest sanctuaries of the goddesses Demeter and Persephone ever found. Fieldwork there was suspended in 1981 because of the deepening hostilities between the United States and Libya. (Publication of the results continued, however, with 11 monographs on the site and finds being published to date.)

Among those working for White was a graduate student named Susan Kane. Today, White, now retired from the University of Pennsylvania, and Kane, a professor of art at Oberlin College, are leading the American return to Cyrene. "In January 2004, the very week that Donald retired," recalls Kane, "the official announcement that the United States was resuming relations with Libya changed everything. We immediately wrote to Libya's Department of Antiquities and were issued visas to come that July. The visit was extraordinary. Our Libyan colleagues in the Department of Antiquities welcomed us with open arms...."

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« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2007, 11:05:56 AM »

Cyrenaica Archaeological Project


The Cyrenaica Archaeological Project (CAP) is an international mission under the direction of Professor Susan Kane, Oberlin College. CAP comprises experts from a range of universities and scientific establishments in North America and Europe who are committed to the investigation of Cyrene and the surrounding area using a range of archaeological techniques. CAP is the successor to the American archaeological mission in Cyrene that excavated the Sanctuary of Demeter and Persephone in the Wadi Bel Gadir between 1969 and 1981 under the direction of Professor Donald White. Following the renewal of relations between the United States and Libya in 2004, the CAP was granted a license to resume work in Libya, which was renewed for five years in August 2006.

On ground examination of the situation in Cyrene was conducted in June 2006 by CAP team members from the University of Birmingham, UK and the University of Alberta, Canada in collaboration with the regional Department of Antiquities in Shahat and Omar al Mukhtar University, al Beida, Libya.  (see their Report) 


After a hiatus of 23 years, an international mission (under the direction of Professor Susan Kane, Oberlin College) will resume archaeological work in Cyrene, Libya. Cyrene, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site in eastern modern Libya, was the leading city of the Libyan Pentapolis. Settled by Greek colonists toward the end of the 7th century B.C., it remained an active Graeco-Roman city of distinctively Hellenic character until the time of the Islamic conquest (A.D. 643).

The first scientific archaeological mission to Cyrene was led by Richard Norton on behalf of the Archaeological Institute of America in the early 20th century. Subsequent foreign archaeological missions from America, Italy, and the United Kingdom have excavated in Cyrene for more than a century.

The most recent American archaeological mission in Cyrene began excavation in 1969 in the extra-mural Sanctuary of Demeter and Persephone in the Wadi bel Gadir. The project was first conducted under the auspices of the Kelsey Museum of Ancient and Mediaeval Archaeology at the University of Michigan. However, when its Director, Professor Donald White, joined the University of Pennsylvania in 1973, the project's sponsorship shifted to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

The American Archaeological Mission�s excavations were conducted between 1969 and 1978 when excavation work was suspended to allow for the study of the material that had been revealed. Two further study seasons took place in 1979 and 1981 before political problems between the US and Libya led to the project�s suspension. The results of the project were presented in a series of articles in Libya Antiqua and the American Journal of Archaeology between 1971 and 1977 and, from 1984, a seven volume Final Report published by the University Museum, University of Pennsylvania.

Cyrene was the leading city of the Libyan Pentapolis or "Region of the Five Cities." Settled by Greek colonists toward the end of the 7th century B.C., it remained an active Graeco-Roman city of distinctively Hellenic character until the time of the Arab invasions (A.D. 643). The ancient town was established about 13 km inland from the Mediterranean on the 600 meter-high crest of a limestone plateau known today as the Gebel el-Akhdar or the "Green Mountain". This plateau forms an important physical barrier separating coastal eastern Libya from the Saharan region to its south. During the winter and early spring the mountain heights block the southerly drift of water-laden clouds, squeezing from them enough rain to support a fertile, temperate northern Mediterranean environment that is just 64 km north of the Sahara, one of the most arid regions on earth.

Cyrene's agriculturally based economy thrived on the export of wheat, legumes, fruit, sheep and goat-derived products, horses, and a highly sought-after herbal plant known as silphium, which grew exclusively on the Libyan gebel. The city, enclosed by a protective circuit of stone defensive walls, has two massive hills. The southwest hill (on which lie the acropolis, the agora, and forum) is totally free of modern building. The northeast hill is largely covered with the old Arab village of Shahat, stands of reforested evergreens, and cultivated ploughlands, and remains largely unexplored.

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« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2007, 11:09:01 AM »

The Roman Empire ca. 120 AD, with the province of Cyrenaica highlighted

Cyrenaica or Cirenaica (Greek: Κυρηναϊκή, Arabic: برقه, pronounced as: Barqah, see Barqah) is the eastern coastal region of Libya and also an ex-province or State ("muhafazah" or "wilayah") of the country (alongside Tripolitania and Fezzan) in an old system of administrative divisions which was abolished in the early 1970s in favour of a system of smaller-size municipality or "baladiyat" (singular "baladiyah"). The "Baladiyat"-system was subsequently changed many times and has lately become "Sha'biyat"-system. What used to be Cyrenaica in the old system is now divided up into several "Sha'biyat", see administrative divisions in Libya. In addition to the eastern coastal region, the ex-Province extended to the south to include South Eastern Libya which has not always been part of historical Cyrenaica (it was not part of Ottoman Cyrenaica for example, hence the restriction to coastal areas in some definitions and maps like the ones on the top of this article). However on maps dating back to prior to the abolishment of the old system and showing the administrative divisions of Libya during the Kingdom, Italian or Ottoman eras (e.g. [1]), Cyrenaica represents the eastern half of Libya (the western half being shared by Tripolitania and Fezzan as seen in the linked map).

The name Cyrenaica is obviously derived from Cyrene a historical city around which the region has evolved), the Arabic name (برقه , pronounced "Barqah" is similar to Barca and might also be related to Barneek or Berenice, old names of Benghazi, capital of the region in modern times.

Kufra, a vital oasis for overland travel is situated amid the desertous southern part of the ex-Province of Cyrenaica.

Ancient history

Cyrenaica was a Roman province on the northern coast of Africa between Egypt and Numidia, and also included the island of Rhodes; In antiquity, it had been an area heavily colonised by the Greeks. That area is now the eastern part of the Mediterranean coast of Libya.

The east of the province was called Marmarica (no major city), but the important part was in the west, comprizing five cities, hence known as the Pentapolis� Cyrene (near the village of Shahat) with its port of Apollonia (Marsa Susa), Arsinoe (Tocra), Berenice (modern Benghazi) and Barca (Merj)� of which the chief was the eponymous Cyrene. After the earthquake of 365 the capital was moved to Ptolemais. In the south Cyrenaica faded into the Saharan tribal areas, including the pharaonic oracle Ammonium.

Conquered by Alexander the Great, it passed to the diadoch dynasty of the Lagids, better known as the Ptolemaic dynasty. It briefly gained independence under Magas, stepson of Ptolemy I Soter, but was reabsorbed into the Ptolemaic empire after the death of Magas. It was separated from the main kingdom by Ptolemy VIII and given to his son Ptolemy Apion, who, dying without heirs in 96 BC, bequeathed it to the Roman Republic. It became a senatorial province in 20 BC, like its far more prominent western neighbour Africa proconsularis, unlike Egypt itself which became an imperial domain sui generis (under a special governor style Praefectus Augustalis) in 30 BC.

Marble statue found in Cyrene, Libya

Although some confusion exists as to the exact territory Rome inherited, by 78 BC it was organised as one administrative province with Crete. The Tetrarchy reforms of Diocletian in 296 changed all of the administrative structure. Cyrenaica was split into two provinces: Libya superior comprized the abvementioned Pentapolis, Libya Inferior Marmarica (only significant city now the port Paraetonium), each under a governor of the modest rank of praeses. Both belonged to the same diocese (originally as part of Oriens) as Egypt itself (from the start three provinces, later more), within the praetorian prefecture of Oriens (also comprizing Oriens proper�mainly Syria�and, both in Asia Minor, Asiana and Pontiana). Its western neighbour Tripolitania, the largest split-off from Africa proconsularis, became part of Africa, a diocese of the western emperor's home prefecture "Italia et Africa"

Under Byzantium it remained the westernmost regular area in North Africa, while Tripolitania was part of the more militarized prefecture -later exarchate- Africa (reconquered from the Arian Vandal kingdom).

Muslim and modern history

Cyrenaica was conquered by the Islamic Arabs during the tenure of the second caliph, Omer Bin Khattab, in 643/44,[[2]] and became known as Barka after its new provincial capital, the ancient Barca. After the breakdown of the Ummayad caliphate, it was essentially annexed to Egypt, although still under the same name, under the Fatimid caliphs and later under the Ayyubid and Mamluk sultanates.

Ultimately, it was annexed by the Turkish Ottoman Empire in 1517 (it was mentioned in the full style of the Great Sultan as the vilayet of Barka, alongside Tripoli, with which it had been joined); its main cities became Bengazi and Derna.

The Italians occupied Cyrenaica during the Italo-Turkish War in 1911 and declared the protectorate of Cirenaica on 15 October 1912,. Three days later, the Ottoman Empire officially ceded the province to Italy. On 17 May 1919, Cirenaica was established as an Italian colony, and, on 25 October 1920, the Italian government recognized Sheikh Sidi Idriss as the leader of the Senussi, who was granted the rank of Emir until in 1929, when Italy derecognized him and the Senussi.

On 1 January 1934, Tripolitania, Cyrenaica, and Fezzan were united as the Italian colony of Libya.

After the overthrow of the al-Sanussi dynasty by Colonel Gaddafi, Cyrenaica has occasionally witnessed anti-regime, nationalist activity, such as a military rebellion at Tobruk in 1980.[1]

    * Westermann Grosser Atlas zur Weltgeschichte (in German).
   1. Associated Press, 'Libyan Opposition to Khadafy Growing but Fragmented Says Expert,' 17 April 1986.

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« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2007, 03:52:23 PM »

Though Cyrene is described above variously as Greek, Roman and Arab, its earliest roots lie with the people of Thera, that small island which had been part of the Minoan empire.

The topic began with this coin:

Gold Drachm (322 to 308 BCE)

Obverse: Rider on prancing horse;     Reverse:  Silphium plant,
horse; POLI upwards left.                   mouse below on right;
                                                           RK/UA in field on left and right.

Kyrene (Cyrene) was founded by Dorian Greeks from the volcanic island of Thera.  The land around Kyrene, on the northern slope of the plateau of Libya, proved to be especially fertile and the agricultural produce of the city, the silphium plant (pictured on the reverse), was the most famous export of the city.  In ancient times the silphium plant (related to the Asian asafetida) was highly prized: from the juices of the flower came perfumes and seasonings; the stalk was used as a vegetable; and the plant had medicinal qualities as well.  The silphium was extinct by Roman times.  The natural historian Pliny writes this about the plant:

    . . . it takes an important place in general use and among drugs, and is sold for its weight in silver denarii.  It has not been found in [Cyrenaica] now for many years, because the tax-farmers who rent the pasturage strip it clean by grazing sheep on it, realizing that they make more profit in that way.  Only a single stock has been found there within our memory, which was sent to the emperor Nero.  If a grazing flock ever chances to come on a promising young shoot, this is detected by the indication that a sheep after eating it at once goes to sleep and a goat has a fit of sneezing.(NH xix 38-46)

Pliny further states that in combination with �bulbs� silphium was used to treat dysentery, and to cure intestinal wounds and infections. It was also used, among an extensive list,  for abortion of a dead fetus, as an antidote to poison and for sore throat (NH xxii 100-106).

Cyrene (the first four letters of the city�s name appear on the reverse)  was first ruled by the Battidae dynasty but in the middle of the 5th century BC it became a republic.  Eventually the city succumbed to Ptolemy I Soter of Egypt.  The obverse of the coin bears the abbreviation of a magistrate�s name POLI.

Minoan eruption

The Minoan eruption of Thera (VEI = 7, DRE = 60 km3) was a major catastrophic volcanic eruption around 1600 BCE. The eruption was one of the largest volcanic events on Earth in recorded history.[1][2][3] The eruption destroyed most of the island of Thera, along with the Minoan towns nearby and on the coast of Crete, contributing to the collapse of the Minoan culture.

The eruption caused significant climatic changes in the eastern Mediterranean region, Aegean Sea and much of the Northern Hemisphere.[4] There is also evidence that the eruption caused failure of crops in China, inspired certain Greek myths, contributed to turmoil in Egypt, and influenced many of the biblical Exodus stories.[5][4][6]

Satellite image of Thera

Historical impact

Minoan civilization

According to several researchers, tsunamis caused by pyroclastic flows and caldera collapse destroyed the navy, merchant vessels and ports of the Minoans on the north side of Crete. As the Minoans were a sea power and depended on their naval and merchant ships for their livelihood, the Thera eruption caused significant economic hardship to the Minoans. Whether these effects were enough to trigger the downfall of the Minoans is under intense debate. Early research into the effect on the Minoans concluded that the ashfall from Thera on the eastern half of Crete choked off plant life, causing starvation of the local population. It was originally thought that 7 centimeters (2.8 in) to 11 centimeters (4.3 in) of ash fell on Kato Zakro, while 0.5 centimeters (0.2 in) fell on Knossos. However, after more thorough field examinations, this theory has lost credibility, as it has been determined that no more than 5 millimeters (0.2 in) of ash fell anywhere on Crete.[25][12][4][26][27][28]

Significant Minoan remains have been found above the Late Minoan I era Thera ash layer, implying that the Thera eruption did not cause the immediate downfall of the Minoans. The Mycenaean conquest of the Minoans occurred in Late Minoan II period, not many years after the eruption, and many archaeologists speculate that the eruption induced a crisis in Minoan civilization, which allowed the Mycenaeans to conquer them easily.[27]

Chinese records

Some scientists correlate a volcanic winter from the Minoan eruption with Chinese records documenting the collapse of the Xia dynasty in China. According to the Bamboo Annals, the collapse of the dynasty and the rise of the Shang dynasty, approximately dated to 1618 BCE, were accompanied by "'yellow fog, a dim sun, then three suns, frost in July, famine, and the withering of all five cereals".[5][4]

Impact on Egyptian history

There are no surviving Egyptian records of the eruption, and the absence of such records is sometimes attributed to the general disorder in Egypt around the Second Intermediate Period. However, there are connections between the Thera eruption and the calamities of the Admonitions of Ipuwer, a text from Lower Egypt during the Middle Kingdom or Second Intermediate Period.[29]

Heavy rainstorms which devastated much of Egypt, and were described on the Tempest Stele of Ahmose I, have been attributed to short term climatic changes caused by the Theran eruption.[6][30][31] This theory is not supported by current archaeological evidence which show no pumice layers at Avaris or elsewhere in Lower Egypt during the reigns of Ahmose I and Thutmosis III. While it has been argued that the damage from this storm may have been caused by an earthquake following the Thera Eruption, it has also been suggested that it was caused during a war with the Hyksos, and the storm reference is merely a metaphor for chaos, upon which the Pharaoh was attempting to impose order.[32]

There is a consensus that Egypt, being far away from areas of significant seismic activity, would not be significantly affected by an earthquake in the Aegean. Furthermore, other documents, such as Hatshepsut's Speos Armedios, depict similar storms, but are clearly speaking figuratively, not literally. Research indicates that this particular stele is just another reference to the Pharaoh overcoming the powers of chaos and darkness.[32]

Greek traditions

The eruption of Thera and volcanic fallout inspired myths of the Titanomachy in Hesiod's Theogony. The background of the Titanomachy is known to derive from the Kumarbi cycle, a Bronze Age Hurrian epic from the Lake Van region. However, the Titanomachy itself could have picked up elements of western Anatolian folk memory as the tale spread westward. Hesiod's lines have been compared with volcanic activity, citing Zeus' thunderbolts as volcanic lightning, the boiling earth and sea as a breach of the magma chamber, immense flame and heat as evidence of phreatic explosions, among many other descriptions.[33]

Biblical traditions

Some researchers have claimed that some of the ten plagues resulted from the eruption of Thera; however, the presumed dates of the events of Exodus, approximately 1450 BCE is almost 150 years after the radiometric date of the eruption.[34] According to the Bible, Egypt was beset by such misfortunes as the transforming of their water supply to blood, the infestations of frogs, gnats, and flies, darkness, and violent hail. These effects are compatible with the catastrophic eruption of a volcano in different ways. While the "blood" in the water could have been red tide which is poisonous to human beings, the frogs may have been displaced by the eruption, and their eventual death would have given rise to large numbers of scavenging insects. The darkness could have been the resulting volcanic winter, and the hail the large chunks of ejecta spewn from the volcano. The tsunami that resulted from the Thera eruption could have been the basis for the myth of the parting of the sea, when the sea receded from the shore immediately prior to the arrival of the tsunami. Shallow areas of the sea would have allowed the Israelites, under Moses, safe passage across the Red Sea, while the ensuing tsunami devastated the Egyptian army. Exodus mentions that the Israelites were guided by a "pillar of smoke" during the day and a "pillar of fire" at night, which many scholars have speculated that it refers to volcanic activity. However, unambiguous radiometric dating of Thera eruption places it at a date significantly different from the proposed dates of the Exodus from Egypt.[35][36][4]

More importantly though, the chronology of events as presented in Exodus drastically differs from those that would have preceded from a volcanic eruption. For example, the plague of darkness came last in Exodus. In reality, darkness caused by volcanic ash would have preceded displaced frogs, hail, or a "river of blood." These effects would only have appeared after an eruption had taken place. Further, assuming the eruption had cause any of the plagues, any sort of accompanying tsunami would have taken place months before the Israelites would arrive at the Red Sea. By that time, the waters would have recessed, blocking any sort of passage on dry land.

   1. a b Oppenheimer, Clive (2003). "Climatic, environmental and human consequences of the largest known historic eruption: Tambora volcano (Indonesia) 1815". Progress in Physical Geography 27 (2): 230-259.
   2. a b c McCoy, FW, & Dunn, SE (2002). "Modelling the Climatic Effects of the LBA Eruption of Thera: New Calculations of Tephra Volumes May Suggest a Significantly Larger Eruption than Previously Reported". Chapman Conference on Volcanism and the Earth's Atmosphere, Thera, Greece: American Geographical Union. Retrieved on 2007-05-29.
   3. a b Sigurdsson H, Carey, S, Alexandri M, Vougioukalakis G, Croff K, Roman C, Sakellariou D, Anagnostou C, Rousakis G, Ioakim C, Gogou A, Ballas D, Misaridis T, & Nomikou P (2006). "Marine Investigations of Greece's Santorini Volcanic Field". Eos 87 (34): 337-348.
   4. a b c d e f LaMoreaux, PE (1995). "Worldwide environmental impacts from the eruption of Thera". Environmental Geology 26 (3): 172-181. DOI:10.1007/BF00768739.
   5. a b c Foster, KP, Ritner, RK, and Foster, BR (1996). "Texts, Storms, and the Thera Eruption". Journal of Near Eastern Studies 55 (1): 1-14.
   6. a b EN, Davis (1990). A Storm in Egypt during the Reign of Ahmose. Thera and the Aegean World III. Thera Foundation. Retrieved on 2007-03-10.
   7. a b Friedrich, WL (1999). Fire in the Sea, the Santorini Volcano: Natural History and the Legend of Atlantis. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-65290-1.
   8. Davidson, DA (1979). "Aegean Soils During the Second Millennium BCE with Reference to Thera". Thera and the Aegean World I. Papers presented at the Second International Scientific Congress, Santorini, Greece, August 1978: 725-739, UK: The Thera Foundation. Retrieved on 2007-03-10.
   9. G, Heiken; McCoy, F (1990). "Precursory Activity to the Minoan Eruption, Thera, Greece". Thera and the Aegean World III, Vol 2: 79-88, London: The Thera Foundation.
  10. Santorini eruption much larger than originally believed (2006). Retrieved on 2007-03-10.
  11. Pumice on south Mediterranean - remnant of the Thera eruption? (2004). Retrieved on 2007-03-10.
  12. a b c Keenan, Douglas J. (2003). "Volcanic ash retrieved from the GRIP ice core is not from Thera". Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems 4 (11): 1097. DOI:10.1029/2003GC000608. 1525-2027. Retrieved on 2007-03-10.
  13. Stanley, DJ & Sheng, H (1986). "Volcanic shards from Santorini (Upper Minoan ash) in the Nile Delta, Egypt". Nature 320, 1986: 733-735. DOI:10.1038/320733a0.
  14. Guichard, F et al. (1993). "Tephra from the Minoan eruption of Santorini in sediments of the Black Sea". Nature 363 (6430): 610-612. DOI:10.1038/363610a0.
  15. New research in Science: date of the largest volcanic eruption in the Bronze Age finally pinpointed (2006). Retrieved on 2007-03-10.
  16. a b Warren, PM (1989). Summary of Evidence for the Absolute Chronology of the Early Part of the Aegean Late Bronze Age Derived from Historical Egyptian Sources in: Thera and the Aegean World III, Hardy, DA (ed). The Thera Foundation, 24-26. ISBN 0 9506133 6 3. Retrieved on 2007-03-10.
  17. Lolos, YG (1989). On the Late Helladic I of Akrotiri, Thera On the Late Helladic I of Akrotiri, Thera. The Thera Foundation. Retrieved on 2007-03-10.
  18. Pearce, N. J. G., J. A. Westgate, S. J. Preece, W. J. Eastwood, and W. T. Perkins (2004). "Identification of Aniakchak (Alaska) tephra in Greenland ice core challenges the 1645 BC date for Minoan eruption of Santorini". Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. 5. DOI:10.1029/2003GC000672.
  19. Baillie, MGL (1989). Irish Tree Rings and an Event in 1628 BC. The Thera Foundation. Retrieved on 2007-03-10.
  20. Grudd, H, Briffa, KR, Gunnarson, BE, & Linderholm, HW (2000). "Swedish tree rings provide new evidence in support of a major, widespread environmental disruption in 1628 BC". Geophysical Research Letters 27 (18): 2957-2960. DOI:10.1029/1999GL010852.
  21. Manning, Sturt W; Ramsey, CB, Kutschera, W, Higham, T, Kromer, B, Steier, P, and Wild, EM (2006). "Chronology for the Aegean Late Bronze Age 1700-1400 B.C.". Science 312 (5773): 565-569. DOI:10.1126/science.1125682. Retrieved on 2007-03-10.
  22. Friedrich, Walter L; Kromer, B, Friedrich, M, Heinemeier, J, Pfeiffer, T, and Talamo, S (2006). "Santorini Eruption Radiocarbon Dated to 1627-1600 B.C.". Science 312 (5773): 548. DOI:10.1126/science.1125087. Retrieved on 2007-03-10.
  23. Balter, M (2006). "New Carbon Dates Support Revised History of Ancient Mediterranean". Science 312 (5773): 508-509. DOI:10.1126/science.312.5773.508. Retrieved on 2007-05-01.
  24. Wilford, JN. "Ancient Crete more ancient than thought? New volcanic evidence suggests discrepancy of more than a full century", The Columbus Dispatch, 2006-05-09. Retrieved on 2007-05-20.
  25. Callender, G (1999). The Minoans and the Mycenaeans: Aegean Society in the Bronze Age. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195510283.
  26. Marinatos, S (1939). "The Volcanic Destruction of Minoan Crete". Antiquity 13: 425-439.
  27. a b Antonopoulos, J. (1992). "The great Minoan eruption of Thera volcano and the ensuing tsunami in the Greek Archipelago". Natural Hazards 5: 153-168. DOI:10.1007/BF00127003.
  28. Pareschi, MT, Favalli, M & Boschi, E (2006). "Impact of the Minoan tsunami of Santorini: Simulated scenarios in the eastern Mediterranean". Geophysical Research Letters 33. DOI:10.1029/2006GL027205. .
  29. Galanopoulos, Angelos Georgiou (1969). Atlantis: The Truth Behind the Legend. Bobbs-Merrill Co. ISBN 978-0672506109.
  30. Goedicke, Hans (1995). 'Studies about Kamose and Ahmose'. Baltimore: David Brown Book Company, Chapter 3. ISBN 0-9613805-8-6.
  31. Foster, KP & Ritner, RK (1996). "Texts, Storms, and the Theran Eruption". Journal of Near Eastern Studies 57: 1-14.
  32. a b Wiener, MH; Allen, JP (1998). "Separate Lives: The Ahmose Tempest Stela and the Theran Eruption". Journal of Near Eastern Studies 57: 1-28.
  33. Luce, John Victor (1969). The end of Atlantis: New light on an old legend (New Aspects of Antiquity). London: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 978-0500390054.
  34. Bennett, JG (1963). "Geo-Physics and Human History: New Light on Plato's Atlantis and the Exodus". Systematics 1 (2). Retrieved on 2007-05-22.
  35. Phillips, G (2003). Atlantis and the Ten Plagues of Egypt: The Secret History Hidden in the Valley of the Kings. Bear & Company. ISBN 978-1591430094.
  36. Phillips, G. Act of God. Graham Phillips. Retrieved on 2007-05-22.

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« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2007, 04:04:03 PM »

Santorini remained unoccupied throughout the late Bronze Age, during which time the Greeks took over Crete. At Knossos, in a LMIIIA context (14th century BCE), seven Linear B texts while calling upon "all the gods" make sure to grant primacy to an elsewhere-unattested entity called qe-ra-si-ja and, once, qe-ra-si-jo. If the endings -ia(s) and -ios represent an ethnikonic suffix, then this means "The One From Qeras[os]". If aspirated, *Qhera- would have become "Thera-" in later Greek. "Therasia" and its ethnikon "Therasios" are both attested in later Greek; and, since -sos was itself a genitive suffix in the Aegean Sprachbund, *Qeras[os] could also shrink to *Qera. (An alternate view takes qe-ra-si-ja and qe-ra-si-jo as proof of androgyny, and applies this name by similar arguments to the legendary seer, Tiresias. But these views are not mutually exclusive.) If qe-ra-si-ja was an ethnikon first, then in following him/her/it the Cretans also feared whence it came.[3]

Over the centuries after the general catastrophes of 1200 BCE, Phoenicians founded a site on Thera. Then, in the 9th century BCE, Dorians founded the main Hellenic city - on Mesa Vouno, 396 m above sea level. This group later claimed that they had named the city and the island after their leader, Theras.

House from the Doric colony of Thera

The Dorians have left a number of inscriptions incised in stone, in the vicinity of the temple of Apollo, attesting to pederastic relations between the authors and their eromenoi. These inscriptions, found by Friedrich Hiller von Gaertringen, have been thought by some archeologists to be of a ritual, celebratory nature, due to their large size, careful construction and - in some cases - execution by craftsmen other than the authors. Other historians, such as Dover and Marrou, have considered them to be pornographic in nature.[4]

According to Herodotus (4.149-165), following a drought of seven years, Thera sent out colonists who founded a number of cities in northern Africa, including Cyrene.

In the 5th century BCE, Dorian Thera did not join the Delian League with Athens; and during the Peloponnesian War, Thera sided with Dorian Sparta against Athens. The Athenians took the island during the war, but lost it again after the Battle of Aegospotami.

As with other Greek territories, Thera then was ruled by the Romans; and it passed to the eastern side of the Empire when it divided - which is now known as the Byzantine Empire.

Sfakian People and the Dorians

"In the southwest part of the island of Crete today lives
a Dorian Greek tribe. They are very tall, fair haired and have blue eyes."

In actual fact, the origins of the Dorians, a pastoral people, are necessarily obscure, but it appears they originated in northern and northwestern Greece, i.e. Macedonia and Epirus. From there they apparently swept southward into central Greece and then into the southern Aegean area in successive migrations beginning about 1100 BC, at the end of the Bronze Age. This new people brought with it a new material, iron, which was of Balkan origin.

Dorian Greeks settled in Illyria before 2000 BC, ancient regions of the Balkan peninsula occupied by Indo-European-speaking tribes, including the Dalmatians and Pannonians. Warlike and piratical, they withstood (6th cent. B.C.) Greeks attracted by their iron mines and later attacks by Macedonians. The Romans conquered them and set up (168-167 B.C.) the province of Illyricum. Today Illyria means the Adriatic coast North of central Albania.

Illyrian culture is believed to have evolved from the Stone Age and to have manifested itself in the territory of Albania toward the beginning of the Bronze Age, about 2000 BC. The Illyrians were not a uniform body of people but a conglomeration of many tribes that inhabited the western part of the Balkans, from what is now Slovenia in the northwest to (and including) the region of Epirus, which extends about halfway down the mainland of modern Greece. In general, Illyrians in the highlands were more isolated than those in the lowlands, and their culture evolved more slowly, a distinction that persisted throughout history. In its beginning, the kingdom of Illyria comprised the actual territories of Dalmatia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, with a large part of modern Serbia. Shkodra (Scutari) was its capital, just as it is now, the most important center of Northern Albania. The earliest known king of Illyria was Hyllus (The Star) who is recorded to have died in the year 1225 B.C.

The Illyrians carried on commerce and warfare with their neighbors. The ancient Macedonians probably had some Illyrian roots, but their ruling class adopted Greek cultural characteristics. The Illyrians also mingled with the Thracians, another ancient people with adjoining lands on the east. In the south and along the Adriatic Sea coast, the Illyrians were heavily influenced by the Greeks, who founded trading colonies there. The present-day city of Durr�s evolved from a Greek colony known as Epidamnos, which was founded at the end of the seventh century B.C. Another famous Greek colony, Apollonia, arose between Durr�s and the port city of Vlor�. The Illyrians produced and traded cattle, horses, agricultural goods and wares fashioned from locally mined copper and iron. Feuds and warfare were constant facts of life for the Illyrian tribes, and Illyrian pirates plagued shipping on the Adriatic Sea.

The first hellenic tribes of Dorians and Achaeoi resided in Macedonia in prehistoric times, first in Emathia near mountain Vermion and later expanded northwards and eastwards.

The warrior-like Dorians fanned out over much of the mainland, razing the city-states and enslaving the inhabitants, and later conquered Crete and the southwest coast of Asia Minor. Other Indo-European tribes known as the Thessalians settled in what is now Thessaly. Of the original Greek tribal groups, the Aeolians fled to the northwest coast of Asia Minor; the Ionians sought refuge on the central coast and the islands of Lesbos, Samos and Chios, although they also held out in mainland Greece, in Attica and the well-fortified city of Athens.

According to Herodotos, the Makednoi (Macedonians) who crossed Doris and moved to the Peloponnese were later called Dorians. The Dorians who formed the Macedonian state came in contact with the local Pelasgic population whose size was much smaller than the one residing at the sea shores and the islands of Southern Greece. It is for this reason that German historian K. Belloch considered the Macedonians the purest Greeks of any other part of Greece. The Dorians (Makednoi) of Macedonia were larger in number than those who moved southwards. This is because those who moved southwards were reduced in number either due to attrition or to settlements in the areas they visited along their movement to Southern Greece. Such a place of permanent residence for some Makednoi (Dorians) was Doris. When these Dorians (known until then as Makednoi only) moved to the Peloponnese, they became known there as Dorians (that is, the people [coming] from Doris).

They arrived in the Peloponesse between 1100 and 950 B.C., drove out the Achaeans, the ruling class from 1250 BC, and rapidly extended their influence. Sparta, Corinth and parts of Crete were Dorian centers. The Dorians' arrival inaugurated a period of Greek decline, but they did contribute to Greek culture as well, particularly in the Doric style of architecture. Iron marked the end of the Mycenaean Age and the transition to the "Geometric Period" in the field of art.

Fifth century BCE hoplite, or "heavy-armed soldier", possibly the Spartan king Leonidas, a Dorian, who died holding the pass at the Battle of Thermopylae


The Dorians (Greek: Δωριεῖς, Dōrieis, singular Δωριεύς, Dōrieus) were one of the principal ancient Greek tribes, the other three being the Achaeans, the Ionians and the Aeolians. They were distinguished by the Doric Greek dialect and by characteristic society and historical traditions. Traditional accounts place their origins in the north, north-eastern mountainous regions of Greece, ancient Macedonia and Epirus, whence obscure circumstances drove them south into the Peloponnese, to certain Aegean islands, parts of the coast of Asia Minor and Magna Graecia. Late mythology gave them an eponymous founder, Dorus son of Hellen, the mythological patriarch of the Hellenes.

By classical times, in the fifth century, Dorians and Ionians were the two most numerous and politically important Greek ethne, whose ultimate clash resulted in the Peloponnesian War fought between the allies of the two groups. The degree to which fifth-century Hellenes self-identified as "Ionian" or "Dorian" has itself been disputed.[1] The fifth- and fourth-century literary tradition through which we view these ethnic identifications was profoundly influenced by the social politics of the time.[2] Nineteenth-century European admirers of virtues they considered "Dorian" identified themselves as "Laconophile" and found responsive parallels in the culture of their day as well; their biases contribute to the traditional modern interpretation of "Dorians".

   1. Edouard Will, in an "essay on the value of applying the ethnic criterion to the study of Greek history and civilisation" in Doriens et Ioniens (Strasbourg 1956) concluded that there was no true ethnic component in the fifth-century culture, in spite of anti-Dorian elements in Athenian propaganda. John Alty reinterpreted the sources, in "Dorians and Ionians", The Journal of Hellenic Studies 102 (1982:1-14 and concluded that ethnicity did motivate fifth-century actions.
   2. E.N. Tigerstedt, The Legend of Sparta in Classical Antiquity (Stockholm 1965) discusses the development of the story of the Dorian invasion, pp28-36.

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« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2007, 04:37:52 PM »

A Libyan drawn by ancient Egyptians

Ancient Libya

Ancient Libya was the region west of the Nile Valley. It corresponds to what is now generally called North Africa. Its people were the ancestors of the modern Berbers.[1]

In the Greek period the Berbers were known as "Libyans"[2] and their lands called "Libya" extended from modern Morocco to the western borders of ancient Egypt. Modern Egypt contains the Siwa Oasis, historically part of Libya, where the Berber Siwi language is still spoken.

Ancient Map from Herodotus


Compared with the History of Egypt, there is a little known on the History of Libya as there are few written texts.

The libyco-Berber script (also known as Tifinagh) was used in Libya was mostly used as a funerary script.[11] It is difficult to understand and there are a number of variations.[12]

Information on Ancient Libya comes from archeologic evidence and historic sources written by Egyptians neighbours, the Ancient Greeks, Romans and Byzantines in the addition to the Arabs from the Medieval times.

[edit] The territory

The boundaries of Ancient Libya have yet to be determined.

It was to the west of Ancient Egypt, and it was known as "IMNT" to the Ancient Egyptians Libya was an unknown territory to the Egyptians: it was the lands of the spirits.[13]
Ancient Map from Herodotus
Ancient Map from Herodotus

To the Ancient Greeks, Libya was one of the three known continents besides, Asia and Europe. In this sense, Libya was the whole African continent to the west of the Nile Valley. Herodotus distinguished the inhabitants of Libya into two people: The libyans in North Africa and the Etheopians [sic] in the south. According to Herodotus, Libya begins where the Ancient Egypt ends, and ends in Cape Spartel in the south of Tangier on the Atlantic coast.

[edit] Later sources

After the Egyptians, the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines mentioned other various tribes. The late tribal names are different from the Egyptian ones. But it is supposed that some tribes were named in the Egyptian sources and the later ones, as well. The Meshwesh-tribe is an example for this assumption. The scholars believe it would be the same tribe called Mazyes by Hektaios and Maxyes by Herodotus, while it was called as "Mazaces" and "Mazax" in the Latin sources. All those names are somehow similar to the name used by the Berbers themselves Imazighen.[14]

The sources of the late period gave more detailed descriptions on Libya and its inhabitants. Herodotus is the most notable ancient historian who tried to cover Libya and the Libyans in his fourth book, which is known as "The Libyan Book". In addition to him, Pliny the Elder, Diodorus Siculus and Procopius are considered as the basic sources on Libya and the Libyans.

Ibn Khaldun, who dedicated the main part of his book Kitab el'ibar, which is known as "The history of the Berbers", did not use the names: "Libya" and "Libyans" in his works. He used instead Arabic names: "The Old Maghreb" (El-Maghrib el-Qadim) and "The Berbers" (El-Barbar or El-Barabera(h)).

Unlike Ibn Khaldun who divided the Berbers into the Batr and the Baranis,[15] Herodotus divided them into Eastern Libyans and Western Libyans. The Eastern Libyans where the nomadic Libyans to the east of the Lake Tritonis. They lived as nomadic shepherds, while the Western Libyans who lived to the west of the Lake Tritonis were farmers who led sedentary life.[16]

Neither Ibn Khaldun nor Herodotus distinguished the Libyans on the basis of their ethnic background, but according to their lifestyles. The distinction of Herodotus was also followed by the modern historians, like Oric Bates in his book "The Eastern Libyans". Some other historians used the modern name of the Berbers in their works like the French historian Gabriel Camps.[17]

The Libyan tribes mentioned in these sources were: "Adyrmachidae", "Giligamae", "Asbystae", "Marmaridae", "Auschisae", "Nasamones", "Macae", "Lotus-eaters (or Lotophagi)", "Garamantes", "Gaetulians", "Maures(Berbers)", "Luwatae" and still many other tribes.

References and notes

   1. Gabriel Camps, L'origin des berb�res
   2. Brian M. Fagan, Roland Oliver, Africa in the Iron Age: C. 500 B.C. to A.D. 1400 p. 47
   3. Moustapha Bazam, Libya: This name in its historic roots (Arabic) (This source will be referred to as "Moustapha Bazma")
   4. There were no vowels in the Egyptian script. The name Libu is written as LBW or RBW in the Egyptian hiergolyph.
   5. After Gardiner 1964, 273, from the Stele of Merenptah.
   6. Clark Desmond J., Oliver Roland, Sanderson G. N., Roberts A. D., Donnelly Fage John, Gray Richard, Flint John, Crowder Michael The Cambridge History of North Africa 1975 p. 141.
   7. The Campridge History of North Africa, p. 141.
   8. The full name of Ibn Battuata was Abu 'abd Allah Muhammad ibn 'abd Allah al-Lawati at-Tanji ibn Battuta
   9. The History of Ibn Khaldun, the thirth chapter p. 184-258(Arabic)
  10. Bates Oric, The Eastern Libyans pg 57
  11. The libyco-Berber script, by Salem Chaker: Professor of the Berber languages at INALCO, Paris (French)
  12. The libyco-Berber script, by Salem Chaker (the pervious source.)
  13. Bates, Oric
  14. Mohammed Chafik, Highlights of thirty-three centuries of Imazighen p. 9 .
  15. Ibn Khaldun, The History of Ibn Khaldun: The thirth chapter p. 181-152.
  16. Herodotus, On Libya, from The Histories, c. 430 BCE
  17. "Gabriel Camps is considered as the father of the North African prehistory, by founding d'Etude Berb�re at the University of Aix-en-Provence and the Ensyclop�die berb�re." (From the introduction of the English book "The Berbers" by Elizabeth Fentres and Michael Brett p. 7).

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« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2007, 04:41:31 PM »

Apollonia and Cyrene

Cyrenicia is directly due south from Greece and the ancients built five cities here, which collectively became known as the Pentapolis. Cyrene was the greatest of these and was considered one of the most important cities in the Greek world of the 4th Century BC. Apollonia is 20km east of Cyrene and served as the port.

The ruins of Apollonia are mainly Byzantine. They ruled here after Alexander, the Ptolemies of Egypt and the Romans had taken their respective turns). The churches, bath houses, port, theatre and houses are most evocative and stretched out along a kilometre of stunning coastline. Roughly one half of the town is underwater after a massive earthquake in the 7th century finally condemned Apollonia (and nearby Cyrene) to the history books. Perhaps, one day, there'll be SCUBA tourism of those offshore ruins. At the moment you are not even allowed to snorkel off the coast here.

Cyrene's ruins are a mix of Greek and Roman. After a few centuries of decline after the Greeks, the Roman emperor Hadrian rebuilt and repaired the city in the 2nd century AD and today's ruins show this melange of Greek and Roman styles. The site is both enormous and well preserved - a winning combination that easily allows me to rank Cyrene & Apollonia alongside the other great ancient sites I've seen at Ephesus, Palmyra and Ba'albeck.

One of the many Byzantine churches at Apollonia. The white marble shines brilliantly against the azure blue of the Med.

The church in the expansive merchant's house, Apollonia. The house also has personal and slave quarters - it's quite the mediterranean villa.

The theatre of Apollonia

The forum at Cyrene, a Roman addition to the originally Greek city and a magnificent first impression for visitors.

Statues of Herakles and Hermes surround the sports ground in Cyrene. The gods represent strength and speed.

Statues of Demeter (goddess of the hearth and home) and her daughter Persephone (queen of the underworld) in their temple, Cyrene

The temple of Apollo, Cyrene

The enormous temple of Zeus at Cyrene - bigger than the Athenian Parthenon.

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« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2007, 04:50:11 PM »

terracotta comic figurine, Greek from Cyrenaica, c. 350 BCE
represents an actor portraying an old woman.
London, British Museum. Credits: Barbara McManus, 2001

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