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Sabratah
صبراتة
Sabratha
Sabratah is located in Libya
Sabratah
Location in Libya
Coordinates: 32°48′N 12°29′E / 32.8°N 12.483°E / 32.8; 12.483
Country Flag of Libya.svg Libya
District Az Zawiyah
2001-2007 Sabratha Wa Surman
Time zone UTC + 2
Archaeological Site of Sabratha*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

Sabratha - the theatre
State Party Flag of Libya.svg Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
Type Cultural
Criteria iii
Reference 184
Region** Arab States
Inscription history
Inscription 1982  (6th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

Sabratha, Sabratah or Siburata (Arabic: صبراتة‎), in the Az Zawiyah District[1] in the northwestern corner of modern Libya, was the westernmost of the "three cities" of Tripolis. From 2001 to 2007 it was the capital of the former Sabratha Wa Surman District. It lies on the Mediterranean coast about 65km (40 miles) west of Tripoli (ancient Oea). The extant archaeological site was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982.

Contents

Ancient Sabratha

Sabratha - the Seaward Baths

Sabratha's port was established, perhaps about 500 BC, as a Phoenician trading-post that served as a coastal outlet for the products of the African hinterland. Sabratha became part of the short-lived Numidian Kingdom of Massinissa before being Romanized and rebuilt in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. The Emperor Septimus Severus was born nearby in Leptis Magna, and Sabratha reached its monumental peak during the rule of the Severans. The city was badly damaged by earthquakes during the 4th century, particularly the quake of AD 365. It was rebuilt on a more modest scale by Byzantine governors. Within a hundred years of the Arab conquest of the maghreb, trade had shifted to other ports and Sabratha dwindled to a village.

The archaeological site

Theatre building

Besides its magnificent late 3rd century theatre that retains its three-storey architectural backdrop, Sabratha has temples dedicated to Liber Pater, Serapis and Isis. There is a Christian basilica of the time of Justinian and also remnants of some of the mosaic floors that enriched elite dwellings of Roman North Africa (for example, at the Villa Sileen, near Al-Khoms). However, these are most clearly preserved in the coloured patterns of the seaward (or Forum) baths, directly overlooking the shore, and in the black and white floors of the Theatre baths.

There is an adjacent museum containing some treasures from Sabratha, but others can be seen in the national museum in Tripoli.

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Max Mallowan at Sabratha

In 1943, during the Second World War, archaeologist Max Mallowan, husband of novelist Agatha Christie, was based at Sabratha as assistant to the Senior Civil Affairs Officer of the Western Province of Tripolitania. His main task was to oversee the allocation of grain rations, but it was, in the words of Christie's biographer, a "glorious attachment", during which Mallowan lived in an Italian villa with a patio overlooking the sea and dined on fresh tunny fish and olives.[2]

Panoramic image of the theatre of the archaeological site
Panoramic image of a part of the archaeological site


Modern Sabratha

Al Wefaq Sabratah is the football club, playing at Sabratah Stadium.

Notes

  1. ^ شعبيات الجماهيرية العظمى – Sha'biyat of Great Jamahiriya, accessed 20 July 2009, in Arabic
  2. ^ Janet Morgan (1984) Agatha Christie: a Biography

Further reading

  • Matthews, Kenneth D. (1957) Cities in the Sand, Leptis Magna and Sabratha in Roman Africa University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, OCLC 414295
  • Ward, Philip (1970) Sabratha: A Guide for Visitors Oleander Press, Cambridge, UK, ISBN 0-902675-05-2

External links


Coordinates: 32°47′N 12°29′E / 32.783°N 12.483°E / 32.783; 12.483


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