Cultural-Geographic Archaeological Research on the History of Cyrenaica

This project will disclose, in a representative sample, the cultural-geographic archaeological investigations already underway of the outlying territories (Grk. Chorai) of the ancient Greek cities of Cyrenaica (c. 600 BCE–400 CE). The central question regards the tension between the resistance and demarcation of indigenous ethnic groups in opposition to incoming groups with a claim to dominance. The material traces of remains will be taken as an indicator of the pertinent behaviors or processes of contact. A picture of the interculturalism research in a historically significant region of North Africa should emerge by means of the described empirical investigations. The project aims to provide a cultural-geographic and historical- archaeological analysis of the individual results extending far beyond the state of current research with regard to the changes to the landscape brought about by nature and by humans. A six-week campaign in 2008 was to focus on three case studies: the urban center of Cyrene; its port city of Apollonia; and the polis Ptolemais, lying further west on the Libyan coast. The lines of communication and infrastructure conditions that existed between these centers on the broadly terraced mountainous plateau Jebel Akhdar were to be precisely examined and their intercultural interdependencies analyzed. The most important are the Greek and Roman roadways between Cyrene and Apollonia; the networks connecting Ptolemais was to be comparatively examined in a second step. In the long term, questions of archaeological stratigraphy and of ancient religious history can be incorporated into urban and rural settlement patterns by means of systematic analytical sub-projects (excavations). As a historical site, Cyrenaica presently stands at the center of attention for the Libyan government and for UNESCO. Thus a not unimportant aspect of this project concerns the imparting of knowledge of heritage preservation and care to the Department of Antiquities in Libya; in this regard, the co-operation of the Brandenburg University of Technology at Cottbus plays a vital role.

Project Term:  October 2008–November 2008

Project Members:
Prof. Detlev Kreikenbom (Institute for Ancient Studies)
Prof. Anton Escher (Geography) 
Prof. Thomas Weber (Institute for Ancient Studies)

Co-operation Partners: 
Prof. H.-R. Goette  (German Archaeological Institute, Berlin)
Department of Antiquities, Libya
Chair, History of Architecture, Brandenburg University of Technology at Cottbus (BTU Cottbus)