Cyrene Ruins (World Heritage)

By | August 5, 2021

Cyrene was founded as a Greek colony from Thera and was the oldest and most important Greek city in modern-day Libya. According to directoryaah, it lies in a depression in the Achdar highlands in Cyrenaica. Among the noteworthy monuments are the Temple of Apollo from the 7th century BC. BC, the temple of Demeter and a partially excavated temple of Zeus.

Cyrene Ruins: Facts

Official title: Ruins of Cyrene
Cultural monument: Greco-Roman city complex, including with the temple of Isis, agora and forum, the temple of Apollo built on an artificial terrace and the Kyra spring, four erected columns of the Greek Propylaea, the temple of Artemis, the 118 m long stoa of the Hermes with 56 statues of Hermes and Hercules, the triumphal arch of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (Mark Aurel) and the Thermae of Trajan
Continent: Africa
Country: Libya
Location: Cyrene, now Shahhat, northeast of Benghazi and east of Tripoli
Appointment: 1982
Meaning: Example of a Greek colony and Roman city with traces of 1000 years of history

Ruins of Cyrene: History

631 BC Chr. Foundation by Greeks from Thera (Santorin)
514 BC Chr. Suppression of a popular uprising against Queen Pheretima
around 400 BC Chr. cultural bloom; Lectures by the famous philosopher Aristippus and the mathematician Theodoros
331 BC Chr. after the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great, Kyrenes voluntarily submitted
116-96 BC Chr. Ptolemy Apion ruler of Cyrene
96 BC Chr. Incorporation into the Roman Empire
98 and 119 Construction of the Thermae of Trajan
114-17 Jewish uprising and devastation
455 Conquest by the Vandals
527-65 under Emperor Justinian renaissance of the city
642/43 Conquest by Arabs
1838, 1861 and 1864 Excavations
1921 further excavations
2005 Archaeologists from the University of Urbino find 76 intact Roman statues from the 2nd century, which were covered by stones and sand for over 1,600 years after the earthquake in 375

The lure of the Pythia

“Now there was no rain in Thera for seven years”, so Herodotus begins his story Kyrenes, and he goes on to write: “During these years all the trees on the island with the exception of one.” In view of this situation, the Theraians consulted the Delphic Oracle, and the Pythia gave the command to visit the herd-blessed Libya on behalf of Apollon Phoibos. So initially two fifty-six rowers drove across the Mediterranean to scout out the Libyan country.

On the North African coast they found a barren island on which they lived rather poorly than well for two years. After the hardships they had suffered, they returned to Delphi disappointed to ask the oracle for advice again and to report that they had fared no better in Libya than in their old homeland. But this time again they did not elicit any other advice from the seer. The Theraians resolutely sailed again to Libya in order to settle on the mainland. After living there for seven years, the Libyans offered to take them to an even nicer place and persuaded them to leave. They led them to a source sacred to Apollo and said: »Hellenes! Here is the right place to start your city. Here comes heaven’s blessing upon you. ”

On the other side of the sea, another oracle promised Pythias: “Anyone who comes to Libya once, the beloved, too late, when the land is already divided, will bitterly regret it!” So people from different parts of Hellas came together in Cyrene and took part away much of their land from the neighboring Libyan tribes. The robbed Libyans, for their part, placed themselves under the protection of the king of Egypt, who gathered an army to march against Cyrene. The Cyrenaians, however, emerged victorious from the battle.

It is not only the sacred spring that makes the location of Kyrenes unique, which lies on the steep slope of the Djebel Akhdar, the “green mountains”. In the cool mountain air, the view from the temples and especially from the theater sweeps unhindered to the north. You think you can look across the Mediterranean to Greece. Was it these views that inspired the thoughts of the geographer Eratosthenes, who calculated the circumference of the earth as early as 250 BC? We do not know it. In any case, the sciences enjoyed a high reputation in the city: Plato attended lectures here; The early Socratic Aristippus and the “representative of the right spiritual attitude”, the phrênesis, Theodoros, lived in its walls. The economic well-being of Kyrenes was based on a wild medicinal plant that has not yet been identified, Called Silphion, which was collected in the hinterland of the city. Along with grain and cattle, it was the most valuable commodity.

Always in competition with the Phoenician-Roman power center of the Tunisian-Tripolitan cities in the west, the demarcation between the opposing spheres of power was carried out by a runners’ competition: at the same time, two runners were to leave Carthage and Cyrene. The border was to be drawn where the two groups meet: 1,500 kilometers east of Carthage, but only 500 kilometers west of Cyrene this was the case. In order to dispel doubts about the honesty of the victorious Phileanae brothers in view of the enormous difference in distance, they died voluntarily.

And once again the saying of an oracle ensured the existence of Cyrene, but this time of the Amun oracle of Siwa: the region had already surrendered without a fight to Alexander the Great during his campaign to Egypt; following the oracle, however, this turned to the east and left the city intact. Later, Cyrene became politically part of Egypt and finally came to Rome as an inheritance. The Hellenistic element that had dominated until then took a back seat, and Christianity made its way into the wake of the Romans.

Cyrene Ruins (World Heritage)