- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Konemann; First Edition edition (February 1, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 3895088447
- ISBN-13: 978-3895088445
- Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 1 x 12.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,076,983 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Libya: Lost Cities of the Roman Empire First Edition Edition
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Libya was a backwater in the Empire. The empurplement of its most famous son, Lucius Septimius Severus, founder of the Severan dynasty and conqueror of Parthians, was signal. The Punic-Roman emperor never forgot his origins; he commissioned an extensive building program at Leptis Magna, City of White Stones. It came to nothing. Once the veneer of civilization crumbled and the legions of the Second Rome - Byzantium - melted away, the metropolis was devoured by sand and lost to memory.
This lavishly produced coffee-table book surveys the various Roman cities of Libya which were exhumed from oblivion by Italian archaeologists in the first half of the Twentieth Century: Leptis Magna, Sabratha, Cyrene, Cyrenacia and Ptolemais. While the narrative covers off the history of the province, assuredly you are not purchasing this book for its text.
Bathed in gold as shadows amass, many of the ruins are photographed in the sunlight of late afternoon. The most mesmeric image of all is the photo taken of the medallions of the Medusa from the Severan Basilica at Leptis Magna. In varying states of decay, the trio commiserate in the twilight on their doom. Due heed is paid to the stupendous Roman theatre at Sabratha which the Italians restored to its former glory. What an edifice! The stage consists of three storeys of columns, no less. At last, here is a setting that is worthy of the Women of Troy or Oedipus at Colonus. Even so, I prefer its counterpart at Leptis Magna where the audience in the upper tiers could behold the Mediterranean as events unfolded on stage. One wonders: what was the last play to feature in Antiquity before the curtain came down for good? Was it Sophocles or a bawdy potboiler? Not even the wind can answer. Likewise mute are the statues of the Dioscuri who gaze out manfully at the empty seating. What are they looking at? Are they trying to out-stare Eternity?
Both Leptis Magna and Sabratha have amphitheaters to their name. The Altar of Nemesis, a customary feature of such structures, has ended up on the cobblestones of the former. Which much has been reconstructed, it awaits resurrection.
Being an advocate of busman's holidays, I am unlikely to see these wonders with my own eyes. The authors accordingly have my gratitude. Better still, if you want to glimpse New York in a millennium's time, purchase this book. And last person left - turn off the lights!
The photographs of these cities are without a doubt some of the finest in existence.Heretofore,I have only seen random scenes of these ancient cities, but nothing organized in a book like this.
Unless one has been to Lybia,as I have,it is difficult to imagine the splendor of these ruins.Greco-Roman ruins in Europe pale in comparison.A primary reason for their preservation is the dry climate,and their burial for 1000 years by the shifting sands of the Sahara from the 9th century A.D. Excavations began in the early 20th century.
The Italian authors are experts in archeological research of the Roman era,specifically in North Africa where they have conducted many missions. Their knowledge of the rise and fall of these wealthy,elegant,and powerful cities and their importance to Rome is well presented in the text throughout the book. The writers describe what life must have been like in these cities,and provide accurate maps and reconstructions of their original dimensions where still buried by sand.
For anyone interested in the period of history when these cities flourished-7th century B.C. to about the 4th century A.D.-this book is a must. If you don't like to read-just look at the pictures.
The book is pretty large, and the pictures are clear and give you a good sense of the urban spaces pictured.