Ermak Travel Guide


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Location: 40 km East of Zuwarah, Zawiya District  Map


When to visit: May- Sept

Sabratha Archaeological Site

Sabratha Archaeological Site






Description of Sabratha Archaeological Park


Sabratha Sabratha Archaeological Site is located 40 km East of Zuwarah in Zawiya District in Libya. Sabratha Archeological Site is best known for its impressive roman ancient ruins dating from the time of the Roman Empire. The history of Sabratha starts much earlier. Initially it was found by the local Berber tribes of Zwagha that also gave a name to their settlement. Expanding influence of Phoenicians soon arrived in the first millennium BC. This sea- faring nation established their trade post. Initially these were temporary settlements with many tents that were easily put up then the traders came to trade and then taken down once the trade was over. By fifth century BC Phoenicians start to settle in Sabratha permanently. Their stone houses and artifacts started to show up more often in more recent strata during archaeological digs.
Milder climate and great irrigation techniques made North Africa and important supplier of grain to all of the Mediterranean. According to Roman historian Pliny the Greeks even called it Abroton that means "grain market". The Latin form of that was Habrotonum. Neo- Punic coins spelled the name as Sabrat. Sabratha, being part of Numidian Kingdom played an important part during Punic wars. Its king Massinissa finally chose side of the Romans and helped to speed the end of the war. His grandson Jugurtha on the other hand was famous for his wars with the Roman Republic. He eventually lost the war and died of starvation in Roman prison in the mid- 2nd century BC. His kingdom including Sabratha became part of Roman possession. With the establishment of an empire the city grew significantly in the second and third centuries adding a majestic theatre that could seat over 5,000 spectators and temples devoted to many gods including those from Egypt. It became a common practice to worship many Egyptian gods throughout the Empire. Temples of Serapis and Isis is one of the best preserved in the city and also one of the most beautiful. Sabratha also has an honour of being the home city of Lucius Apuleius, famous author of the Metamorphoses.
The earthquake of 365 AD caused much hardship to Sabratha by disrupting its infrastructure and damaging irrigation fields. The invasion of the Vandals from Europe in the 455 AD completely destroyed erased Sabratha from the map. Some survivors probably lived in the area, but the city it seems never recovered. Lack of walls that the Vandals tore down left the city defenceless. There were attempts to resettle the area by the Byzantines, but these ultimately failed. Thanks to isolation of this archaeological site there were very little looting or reuse of Sabratha's stone. This practice destroyed many sites in Europe, but Northern Africa can still show the splendour of its Roman past.












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