Leptis Magna Off The Beaten Path

  • Off The Beaten Path
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  • Off The Beaten Path
    by iwys
  • Off The Beaten Path
    by iwys

Most Recent Off The Beaten Path in Leptis Magna

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    Hunting Baths

    by iwys Updated Nov 6, 2007

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    On the beach, about a kilometre to the west of the city are the Hunting Baths, built in the 2nd century AD. From the outside you see its domed roof, which looks a bit like a Second World War bunker, but inside there are some fascinating frescoes depicting hunting scenes. You can see men armed with spears hunting wild animals, including leopards. One theory is that these baths belonged to the guild of hunters who captured the animals to be used in the amphitheatre. I am not too sure about this explanation though,as all of the frescoes depict them killing the animals, rather than capturing them.

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    The Pharos

    by iwys Written Apr 7, 2007

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    The Pharos or lighthouse of Leptis Magna was originally at least 35m high and a flame at the top helped guide ships into the port.

    This lighthouse should get a lot more attention than it does, as it was a twin of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Pharos of Alexandria. As only one of the original wonders, the Pyramids, survives today, this is the closest thing there is to a second one that you can actually still see. What you can see today, standing on a headland, are ten layers of limestone blocks that formed the base of the lighthouse tower.

    If it was indeed the twin of the Pharos of Alexandria, of which a written description exists, the tower would have had three levels: a square base, a middle octagonal section and a circular section at the top. The whole structure was covered with white marble. Fuel for the fire could be hoisted up through a central shaft. A mirror would have been used to reflect the sun in the daytime and the fire would have been lit at night.

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    Villa Sileen

    by grets Written Apr 11, 2005

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    Villa Sileen

    Villa Sileen is not officially open to the public and a special written permit is required from the Depertment of Archaeology is required to enter, as well as a lot of patience and good humour when dealing with the extremely surly curator. Photography is not permitted inside.

    The villa was discovered in the 1950s and excavated in the 1970s. It covers 800 square metres of exquisite mosaics. The building is not truly Byzantine, with some late Christian elements and an African round design. The mosaic workers would have been all African.

    The mosaics inside the 47 rooms are amazing, with intricate detail and lovely colours, showing symmetrical patterns, pygmies with flowers, crocodiles, birds, Greek mythology, shields, animals & hunters, hippodrome sports, chariots & horse riders, dolphins in a pool, muses & meneads with Bacchus, images from Trojan war, Treton abducting a nymph, raging bull fight.

    At the end of our walk through the villa, the miserable and actually rather threatening curator, wanted a tip. The best one we could give him was: "try smiling at your customers"

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    Private villa

    by grets Written Apr 11, 2005

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    Private villa

    This recently discovered villa near the amphitheatre and harbour, was only uncovered in 2004. It was completely under the ground. It is built in local African style, and the black and white mosaics found inside are Ionic and Hellenistic, with no Roman influence. The villa is thought to date from the 2nd cenury AD.

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    The harbour

    by grets Written Apr 11, 2005

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    Harbour

    The harbour, which has now almost entirely silted over, was once the home to the lighthouse - a structore of more than 35 metres in height, and fashioned on the famous lighthouse of Alexandria. There was also warehouses, a wathctower, loading docks and a temple dedicated to Jupiter.

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    Position

    by grets Updated Apr 11, 2005

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    The amphitheatre is situated ca 1km from the port along the coast. It was placed outside the city as Gladiator sports were considered only for the common people and by placing the amphitheatre in such a position, they were able to keep the yobs out of the city centre. Much as they do with football stadiums today. The theatre could hold an audience of 16,000 people.

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    Hippodrome

    by grets Written Apr 11, 2005

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    Exit from amphitheatre to hippodrome

    The Hippodrome dates from year 162 AD during the reign of Marcus Aurelius Antonius. This is where chariot races were held, and attended by up to 25,000 people.

    The Hippodrome, or Circus, was approached via a side passage from the Amphitheatre, and people would file from one to the other in long orderly queues.

    It is the largest known hippodrome outside Rome. Not much can be seen today.

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    Gladiators

    by grets Written Apr 11, 2005

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    Entrance of the Gladiators

    In the Roman world the amphitheatres were places for cruel entertainments, in which men and animals were slaughtered for fun, and it was extremely popular.

    Amphitheatres were an African Roman invention, and in fact most of the Gladiators were African.

    In the mornings, wild animal hunts would be held, in which the central part of the theatre would have been decorated with trees and plants to resemble a jungle. Prisoners would fight wild animals, and animals would fight each other.

    Other types of entertainment would include wrestling and hand-to-hand fighting between Gladiators. Many of the Gladiators were condemned prisoners.

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    Amphitheatre

    by grets Written Apr 11, 2005

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    Amphitheatre

    The site was used for 50 years as a quarry, and once the area was exhausted, an amphitheatre was built on the site. The structure is rich in Greek influence, unlike most Roman amphitheatres, it is built below the ground.

    The theatre dates from year 56 and was renovated in the 2nd century AD and again during the reign of Severus.

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Leptis Magna Off The Beaten Path

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