The third season of excavation of a Roman town house adjacent to the theatre of Lepcis Magna took place in September 1996. The whole ground plan of the house had not previously been exposed and this was the primary task of the 1996 fieldwork. It appeared that the first building was constructed of well-dressed stone with interior mud-brick walls in the first half of the first century AD and continued in use until either the later first or the beginning of the second century AD. The site was then abandoned until the fourth century when the building was reoccupied, and the interior layout changed. Final abandonment seems to have taken place in the fifth century. The cisterns and well of the house were also examined, and probably what are the first waterlogged archaeological deposits from North Africa were sampled. They include large amounts of organic domestic waste.
Ceramic assemblages of late coarseware and first-century coarse and fineware were studied by Isabella Welsby Sjöström and Paul Reynolds. Sally-Ann Ashton worked on the wall-plaster, architectural marble fragments, and other finds, including ivory and bone, bronzes, and sculpture. The animal bone of all three seasons was examined by Jane Sidell, and included much butchered material. Sheep/goat were the most common animal found, and cattle and pig were a great deal more common than had been expected for North Africa. Keith Wilkinson discusses the palaeoenvironmental material and future hopes for its scientific examination.
During 1997 a Lepcis Magna web site has been opened to provide up to date news of the project. A virtual museum provides illustrations of many of the important finds, and an illustrated account of the excavation can be heard in the virtual lecture theatre. Its address is: www.alnpete.co.uk/lepcis/.