Lepcis Magna, one of the greatest cities of North Africa and one of the most famous archaeological sites in the Mediterranean, was situated in the region (later province) of Tripolitania. Birthplace of the emperor Septimius Severus, the city has yielded many well- preserved monuments from its Roman past, but the extraordinary architecture and history of this city has never been examined in the context of the ancient region as a whole, encompassing north-west Libya and southern Tunisia. David Mattingly has filled this gap, presenting important new research on the military frontier, the pre-Roman tribal background, the urban centers, and the regional economy. Drawing on recent excavations and field surveys, he reinterprets many aspects of the settlement history of this marginal arid zone that once was prosperous. Partly through large-scale cultivation of olives, one of the least promising environments of the Mediterranean hosted one of the wealthiest Roman provincial towns- -Lepcis Magna.David Mattingly also considers many wider themes in Roman provincial studies: Romanization, the military strategy on the frontiers, and the economic links between provinces and the sources of elite wealth. The dramatic rise and premature decline of this region, over the 500-year period between Caesar's victory at Thapsus in 46 B.C.E. and the conquest of North Africa by the Vandals, make it one of the most unusual provincial histories of the Roman world.
David J. Mattingly is Lecturer in Roman Archaeology, University of Leicester.
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