Skip to main content Accessibility help

The UNESCO Libyan Valleys Survey 1980

  • G. W. W. Barker, G. D. B. Jones, R. H. Bewley, D. Gilbertson, R. Burns, D. J. Mattingly and Marijke van der Veen (a1)...


Two seasons of work have now been conducted by British and French survey teams, in conjunction with members of the Libyan Antiquities Department, under the charge of Dr. Abdullah Shaiboub. The objectives of the survey are to locate, survey and analyse the extensive remains of the ancient agricultural settlements that can be found in the wadis of the hinterlands of Tripolitania and the Sirtica. Within the framework established by the Department in cooperation with Unesco lies the archaeological aim of recording the evidence for periods when extensive areas of the pre-desert were, for whatever reasons, cultivated in ways that are not similarly practised today. In the longer term the programme is designed to locate those areas where modern farming might be re-established. Archaeology is thus brought into line with the aims of the modern world.

For the purposes of this report we intend to concentrate on the period which we call the Romano/Libyan in which the great majority of those farming settlements flourished. The prehistoric evidence is in any case mainly of the palaeolithic period, on which there is a separate section.

The preferred zone of settlement in Tripolitania has traditionally been the well watered coastal plain and the adjacent limestone hills of the Tarhuna Gebel as far south as the town of Beni Ulid, for these regions have more than 200 mm of rain a year, regarded as the threshold for settled farming without irrigation. Prehistoric settlement concentrated here, and mixed farming has probably characterised this zone from the fourth millennium b.c. In the Roman period the coastal cities like Sabratha and Leptis Magna were supported by prosperous farms on the plain and in the Gebel. In the Islamic period, too, the same region was densely settled.



Hide All
André, J. 1961 L'Alimentation et la Cuisine à Rome. Klincksieck, Paris.
Arnon, J. 1972 Crop Production in Dry Regions. Col. I, Leonard Hill, London.
Barker, G. W. al. 1980 Summary report on the specialist investigation of ancient land use in the Tripolitanian pre-desert. Sheffield, unpublished.
Brehony, J. A. N. 1960 Semi-nomadism in the Jebel Tarhuna. In Willimott, S. G. & Clarke, J. I. (ed.) Field Studies in Libya. Dept. of Geography, research paper 4, Durham Univ. pp. 6069.
Brogan, O. & Smith, D. 1957 The Roman frontier settlement at Ghirza: an interim report. Journal of Roman Studies, 47, pp. 173184.
Harlan, J. R. 1976 Barley. In Simmonds, N. W. (ed.) Evolution of Crop Plants. Longman, London, pp. 9398.
Purseglove, J. W. 1968 Tropical Crops. Dicotyledons, vol. I. Longman, London.
Renfrew, J. M. 1973 Palaeoethnobotany. Methuen, London.
Zeisr, W. van 1976 On macroscopic traces of food plants in south wesern Asia. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. London B 275, pp. 2741.
Zohany, D. 1976 Lentils. In Simmonds, N. W. (ed.) Evolution of crop plants. Longman, London, pp. 163164.

The UNESCO Libyan Valleys Survey 1980

  • G. W. W. Barker, G. D. B. Jones, R. H. Bewley, D. Gilbertson, R. Burns, D. J. Mattingly and Marijke van der Veen (a1)...


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed