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Graffiti Now Covers the Walls of Libya’s Ancient City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site    

Magnificent columns on an ancient building facade. A public building of Sabratha, Libya. The theatre was built in 175-200 AD, so it was started by Emperor Marcus Aurelius; the construction was continued by his son Commodus and completed with a lavish proscaenium by Emperor Septimius Severus who was born in Leptis Magna; this time frame is applicable also to the enlargement of the theatre of Ostia.

Sabratha started out as a Phoenician trading post according to UNESCO, a part of the Numidian Kingdom of Massinissa before the Romans rebuilt it in the second and third centuries. In 2016 UNESCO added the site to the list of World Heritage in Danger. Now apart from the odd school visit the city is neglected and it has become a target for vandalism. Tour guide Adel Mahmoud says young visitors to this fragile site are often unattended and they don’t know how to behave around the ancient remains. The Punic temples surrounding the market square, the judicial court, and the municipal council were rebuilt in the fourth century AD. The ancient city is also famous for its huge Roman theatre, but with no foreign tourists, only Libyan families on weekends visit the site.


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