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Durham University

Department of Archaeology

All Research Projects

From Africa to Ifriqiya: Investigating Lepcis Magna and its Territory

A research project of the Department of Archaeology.


Libya is one of the most important regions in the Mediterranean, hosting a number of highly important world heritage sites. Within its borders are the remains of many monumental cities such as Cyrene, Apollonia, Sabratha, and Lepcis Magna. The latter was the capital of the Roman province of Tripolitana and also the birthplace of the emperor Septimius Severus. The state of preservation of the city and its monumentality is impressive, and for this reason the majority of past work has concentrated on the Roman and Byzantine periods, principally within the urban sector. The early Arab phases have been the objects of massive amounts of destruction that eschewed quality record keeping, especially during the Italian colonial period.

The proposed project plans to investigate the still-unknown Msellata plateau (20 km ca. inland from Lepcis Magna) aiming: to understand, for the first time, the close hinterland of Lepcis Magna and not just the urban area itself; to shed new light on the often neglected Early Arab periods; to produce the GIS of the archaeological remains necessary to develop a strategic plan for the management of the territory; and to test long term sustainability to improve tourism in the area, involving the local population and Libyan authorities. The plateau is in a key geographical position, close to two major roads connecting the North African coast and east Africa.

This is a joint project between Durham University, The Department of Antiquities of Libya (Dr Mftah Haddad), University of Msurata - Libya (Dr Hafed Abdouli) and the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut (Dr Ralf Bockmann)


From the Department of Archaeology

Scottish Soldiers Project

Cooperating with the Palace Museum in China