Libya’s Precious Roman Remains Now At Risk From ISIS

The news this week that ISIS gunmen briefly occupied the center of Sabratha, a city of around 100,000 people between the Libyan capital, Tripoli and the border with Tunisia, where they beheaded twelve security officers, is an ominous sign that ISIS’ growing strength could soon threaten Libya’s prized Roman ruins.

Sabratha is one of two significant sites of Roman cities dating back to the Second Century AD; the other is on the western side of Tripoli at a place called Leptis Magna. Libya was occupied by the Roman Empire for the best part of eight centuries, from 146 BC, when Carthage fell to Roman armies, to 670 AD, with Leptis Magna the capital.

Libya has about fifteen sites dating back to the Roman occupation, five of which, including Leptis Magna and Sabratha, are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Libya, or to be precise the fertile coastal strip between what are now the borders with Egypt and Tunisia, became ‘Rome’s breadbasket’, supplying, inter alia, the grain to make the bread that Roman rulers traditionally gave away to the masses, which along with free games at the Coliseum, gave rise to the phrase ‘bread and circuses’ to describe how Rome’s leaders held on to power.

Both cities have beautiful and historically significant ruins, much of which have not been fully explored, but of the two, Leptis Magna, which in its heyday rivaled the great Roman cities of Carthage and Alexandria, has the most impressive remains, including a theatre which is simply stunning.

The great fear is that if ISIS continues to grow in strength it will repeat in Libya the unforgivable acts of historical vandalism carried out in the name of Islam which saw the ancient city of Palmyra devastated and other of the countries most impressive Roman monuments destroyed.

Below are photos of what was destroyed in Syria and what is at risk in Libya. As you view them remember that this monstrous desecration was made possible not just by a barbaric distortion of an otherwise peaceful religion, but by foreign policies of a sort advocated by people now vying to become leader of the modern version of the Roman empire – in particular Hillary Clinton, Obama’s Secretary of State when Libya was plunged into the anarchy and chaos which now fuels ISIS.

Roman columns at Sabratha

Roman columns at Sabratha

A Roman trading post in Sabratha

A Roman trading post in Sabratha

The Roman theatre at Sabratha

The Roman theatre at Sabratha

The theatre at Leptis Magna

The theatre at Leptis Magna

Arch of Septimus Severus, Roman consul who made Leptis Magna one of the great cities of the Roman empire

The tomb of Septimiuss Severus, a Libyan native who became Emperor of Rome in 193 AD, and made his home town Leptis Magna one of the great cities of the Roman empire

Leptis Magna

Leptis Magna

Roman ampitheatre, Leptis Magna

Roman ampitheatre, Leptis Magna

Public toilets at Leptis Magna

Public toilets at Leptis Magna

Roman tombs in the town of Ghirza

Roman tombs in the town of Ghirza

The arch of triumph at Palmyra, destroyed by ISIS

The arch of triumph at Palmyra, destroyed by ISIS

ISIS destroys Roman monuments in Palmyra

ISIS destroys Roman monuments in Palmyra

4 responses to “Libya’s Precious Roman Remains Now At Risk From ISIS

  1. A special thanks to the Yanks, the French and the Brits for bring all this.

  2. Pingback: Libya’s Precious Roman Remains Now At Risk From ISIS | seftonblog

  3. 我很爱中国,也很爱加州,但让我最难忘的就是Leptis Magna,因为我爱人类文明。西方政府军队,你们让我心碎,深深的心碎。但愿地球和平。因为我想再次回到那里!!
    I love China, but also love California, but the place I love the most and most memorable is Leptis Magna, Libya because I love human civilization. Western government, armed forces, ISIS, has broken my heart, deeply heartbrokem. I hope the earth is peaceful, because I want to go back there again! Stop the war, stop bombing.

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