The punic settlement at the Lebda delta,
dates back to the end of the 7th century BC., as proved by some
archeological pottery remains. Nevertheless its urban features
can only be dated back to the late 6th century BC., following
the Greek continuous
attempts to colonize the coast. The fertility of the inland and
its strategic position for long-distance trade gave to Leptis a
favourable asset in the “Emporia”, region which included the
lebanese-punic town of Oea (Tripoli) and Sabratha.
its defeat in the second punic war (202 BC.), Carthage lost its
control on the Emporia which went under the hegemony of
Maxinissa. As part of his kingdom, the town developed its trade
and the countryside became more populated with farms. By the end
of the century, during the Jugurtha war, Leptis signed with Rome
a treaty of mutual friendship and alliance. Having sided with
Pompey, Caesar imposed a tribute of 3 million pounds of oil to
the augustan age, as part of the African Proconsular province
and thanks to the generosity of its wealthy inhabitants, Leptis
typical architectural features of a roman town, with its own spa
and places for entertainment.
Under Vespasian, Leptis obtained the town
Statute, under Trajan the title of a Roman colony and following
to this, its inhabitants obtained the Roman citizenship.
193 AD. Lucius Septimius Severus from Leptis became emperor and
he bestowed the same privileges of any Italian town on his birth
place. Leptis reached its greatest splendour thanks to the
monumental public works that he planned and paid for.
Unfortunately, after the death of his son Caracalla, these
imponent works were stopped, all the villas in the territory
began to decay and soon afterwards they were abandoned.
is possible that in the late 3rd century , problems of
maintenance already appeared in the harbour structures.
Diocletian, within his comprehensive administrative reform,
Leptis became the main town of the new Tripolitan province.
following century saw a fast process of decay: the Tripolitan
countryside was repeatedly devasted by the raids of the
semi-nomadic tribes from the inland, among which were the
Austurians (363 – 367 DC.). The town was preserved thanks to
its walls, built during Costantine’s reign. When the Vandals
passed to Africa (429 AD.),
fell into their hands, but their presence didn’t leave any
visible sign on Leptis.
in 534 AD., when Justinian re-conquered Africa, Tripolitania and
Leptis became part of the Empire again. The Byzantine town was
enclosed in a new
and narrower wall circuit and lived its last urban phase, as
witnessed by the building of new religious monuments.
Nevertheless, the urban texture is hopelessly falling apart, and
with the Arabian conquerors the whole process of decay is
of the Roman town “Leptis Magna” in Lybia
exhibition includes 50 panels (50x70 cms) for 78 colour
photographs (30x45 cms).
maps and captions by Roma Tre University.