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Leptis Magna RW0607 - XXIII

Location: Al-Khums, Libya

I am very fortunate to have been to certain places that most travellers and tourists would not have the opportunity to.  I count my short visit to Leptis Magna in Libya one of these places.  I visited shortly before the Fall of Gaddafi and the ensuing descent of the country into utter chaos.  Even then I had special permission to visit the site, very few visitors were allowed in then and I doubt if it has seen many visitors since then.

This was probably the first time I used RAW format and I decided to rework them, to see if I could do better than my initial attempts.


Leptis Magna, also spelled Lepcis Magna, Punic transliteration Labqior Lpqi = modern Labdah, largest city of the ancient region of Tripolitania.

It is located 62 miles (100 km) southeast of Tripoli on the Mediterranean coast of Libya. Lying 2 miles (3 km) east of what is now Al-Khums (Homs), Leptis contains some of the world’s finest remains of Roman architecture. Founded as early as the 7th century BC by Phoenicians of Tyre or Sidon, it was later settled by Carthaginians, probably at the end of the 6th century BC. Its natural harbour at the mouth of the Wadi Labdah facilitated the city’s growth as a major Mediterranean and trans-Saharan trade centre, and it also became a market for agricultural production in the fertile coastland region. Near the conclusion of the Second Punic War, it passed in 202 BC to Masinissa’s Numidian kingdom, from which it broke away in 111 BC to become an ally of Rome.

Through the 1st century AD, however, it retained several of its Punic legal and cultural traditions, including its municipal constitution and the official use of the Punic language. The Roman emperor Trajan (reigned 98–117 AD) designated Leptis a colonia (community with full rights of citizenship). The emperor Septimius Severus (193–211 AD), who was born at Leptis, conferred upon it the jus Italicum (legal freedom from property and land taxes) and became a great patron of the city. Under his direction an ambitious building program was initiated, and the harbour, which had been artificially enlarged in the 1st century AD, was improved again. Over the following centuries, however, Leptis began to decline because of the increasing insecurity of the frontiers, culminating in a disastrous incursion in 363, and the growing economic difficulties of the Roman Empire. After the Arab conquest of 642, the status of Leptis as an urban centre effectively ceased, and it fell into ruin.

Buried by sand until the early 20th century, Leptis still preserves traces of early Punic structures near the excavated shell of its amphitheatre (56 AD) and its old forum, the heart of the city in early Roman times. From this nucleus, the city spread westward along the coast and inland to the south. Second-century buildings include well-preserved baths erected under the emperor Hadrian (117–138) and a circus (racecourse) some 1,500 feet (460 metres) long. The largest surviving monuments were erected during the reign of Severus.

Linking the city centre to the harbour was a colonnaded street roughly 1,350 feet (410 metres) long that terminated in a circular piazza dominated by an intricately designed nymphaeum (ornamental fountain house). Leptis’s two main roads intersected under a massive four-way arch, a tetrapylon, upon which the grandeur of Severus and his family was depicted in a frieze.

Among the other structures erected during that period were an aqueduct 12 miles (19 km) long, an elaborate complex of buildings on the left bank of the wadi, and the Hunting Baths, which are extraordinarily well preserved, with colourfully painted scenes of hunting exploits (including a 2nd- or 3rd-century painting of a leopard hunt) and the still-legible names of honoured hunters on the walls
Image details
Image size
900x599px 352.18 KB
Shutter Speed
1/50 second
Focal Length
18 mm
ISO Speed
Date Taken
Dec 16, 2010, 8:45:18 PM
Sensor Size
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HankBee's avatar

very interesting. And your photos of the place are excellent. Good thing you went for raw.

InayatShah's avatar

Thank You very much ... :-)

MortimerderHenker's avatar
I really appreciate the efforts for putting metric to imperial/American measurements into the picture's description and some lines about the place added as well as some background information about the photographer's view while taking it...
Also good shot!
InayatShah's avatar
Thank you very much.  Both for the kind appreciation and your precious time to go through my gallery
MortimerderHenker's avatar
NotWithoutHonor's avatar
Manlarr's avatar
Amazing photograph :)
InayatShah's avatar
NewAccountNewMe's avatar
I have been informed that this is in the other half and is Roman, not Greek.
InayatShah's avatar
Yes It is Roman and this particular image is The ruins of the Roman Basilica in Leptis Magna
NewAccountNewMe's avatar
This is Cyrenaica or the other half of Libya?
InayatShah's avatar
This is in the Tripolinatia, about a 100 Km east from Tripoli along the coast (Near Khoms).  Cyrenacia starts about a further 200kms East from Khoms.
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