Open Access: The Archaeology of the Fezzan

The Archaeology of the Fezzan series is now available open access from the Society for Libyan Studies. Descriptions and download links are below.

The Archaeology of Fazzan, Volume 1: Synthesis
Edited by D. J. Mattingly (2003)

‘An extraordinary civilisation emerged on the very margins of the Classical world in the remote Libyan desert. This is a vital study of a society at the crossroads between the Mediterranean and continental Africa.’ (Professor Michael Fulford, University of Reading)

‘The Garamantes have emerged from the shadows. This study of the Fazzan from remotest antiquity to the present day is striking for the extent and range of the enquiry, the meticulousness of its documentation, and the clarity of its exposition. The completed volumes will immediately become the standard work on the region, and seem unlikely ever to be superseded.’ (Professor Roger Wilson, University of Nottingham)

This is the second volume detailing the combined results of two Anglo-Libyan projects in Fazzan, Libya’s projects in Fazzan, Libya’s southwest province. The late Charles Daniels led the first expeditions between 1958 and 1977, with David Mattingly directing the subsequent Fazzan Project from 1997-2001.

This second volume presents some of the key archaeological discoveries in detail, including a richly illustrated gazetteer of sites discovered and the first attempt at a full-scale pottery type series from the Sahara. In addition, there are separate reports on the programme of radiocarbon dating carried out, on lithics, metallurgical and non-metallurgical industrial residues and various categories of small finds (including coins, metal artefacts, beads, glass and stone artefacts).

This volume contains reports and analysis on a series of excavations carried out between 1958 and 1977 by the British archaeologist Charles Daniels, lavishly illustrated by site plans and numerous colour photographs – particularly of the rich artefact assemblages recovered. The publication is a high-profile and significant landmark in work seeking to record information about Libya’s long-term Saharan heritage. It is an indispensable reference work to the nature of Libya’s Saharan archaeology.

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Article: The Origins and Development of Zuwila

raza_a_980126_f0008_bDavid J. Mattingly, Martin J. Sterry & David N. Edwards. 2015. “The origins and development of Zuwīla, Libyan Sahara: an archaeological and historical overview of an ancient oasis town and caravan centre.” Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa 50(1), 27–75

This article is open-access and can be read by everyone for free by clicking on the above link!

Abstract: “Zuwīla in southwestern Libya (Fazzān) was one of the most important early Islamic centres in the Central Sahara, but the archaeological correlates of the written sources for it have been little explored. This paper brings together for the first time a detailed consideration of the relevant historical and archaeological data, together with new AMS radiocarbon dates from several key monuments. The origins of the settlement at Zuwīla were pre-Islamic, but the town gained greater prominence in the early centuries of Arab rule of the Maghrib, culminating with the establishment of an Ibāḍī state ruled by the dynasty of the Banū Khaṭṭāb, with Zuwīla its capital. The historical sources and the accounts of early European travellers are discussed and archaeological work at Zuwīla is described (including the new radiocarbon dates). A short gazetteer of archaeological monuments is provided as an appendix. Comparisons and contrasts are also drawn between Zuwīla and other oases of the ash-Sharqiyāt region of Fazzān. The final section of the paper presents a series of models based on the available evidence, tracing the evolution and decline of this remarkable site.”

Article: Preserving Cultural Heritage in the Jabal Nafusa

Nebbia, N., Leone, A., Bockmann, R., Hddad, M., Abdouli, H., Masoud, A. M., Elkendi, N., Hamoud, H., Adam, S. & Khatab, M. (2016). Developing a Collaborative Strategy to Manage and Preserve Cultural Heritage During the Libyan Conflict. The Case of the Gebel Nāfusa. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 23(4): 971-988.

Abstract: The paper discusses the potential of a collaborative scheme for the development of a protocol for recording and managing the cultural heritage in Libya. The critical political situation in the country urges the development of cultural heritage management policies in order to protect it more thoroughly and consistently. Moving on from the numerous international initiatives and projects dealing with a mostly “remote” approach to the issue, the project here presented to engages with staff members of the Department of Antiquities (DoA) in the development of a joint strategy for the application of remote sensing and geographical information systems (GIS) to the preservation and monitoring of Libyan cultural heritage. A series of training courses resulted in an initial development of new ways of recording and analysing field data for a better awareness of the full range of threats that the archaeology of the country is subject to. Focussing on the case of the Jebel Nafusa, the training involved the assessment of site visibility on satellite imagery, the analysis of high-resolution satellite datasets for archaeological mapping, the creation of a GIS spatial database of field data, and the mapping of risks and threats to archaeology from remote sensing data. This led to the creation of of a risk map showing the areas that are affected by a number of threats, thus giving the DoA a tool to prioritise future fieldwork to keep the assessment of site damage up to date. Only a collaborative approach can lead to a sustainable strategy for the protection of the invaluable cultural heritage of Libya.

Note: the article is behind a paywall, but those with university or library accounts should be able to access it.

Archaeological Horizons | افاق اثرية

Archaeological Horizons (افاق اثرية) is the name of an Arabic-language periodical about Libyan archaeology, archaeological sites, museums, and all other related matters. It was founded in July 2011, during an explosion of print media that occurred once cities like Benghazi were free of the regime, and its most recent issue appeared in September 2014. All 19 issues of the periodical are available for free download as PDFs at the following site: http://afaqatherya.com/

The periodical is full of all sorts of interesting information—there are articles about numerous different sites in Libya (from ancient to early modern), news about digs and expeditions, calls for action regarding antiquities lost during the regime or during the revolution, and even the occasional publication (and translation into Arabic if necessary) of Islamic grave inscriptions or pre-Islamic ones. Foreign works on Libyan archaeological matters are also taken into notice; for example, in Issue 19 (2014), the 2013 volume of the journal Libyan Studies is reviewed.

For those who are interested in the entire gamut of Libyan archaeology — from the perspective of Libyan writers(!) — this periodical provides great starting points as well as up-to-date news. Given recent upheavals in Libya, its publication has no doubt had to take a break, but here’s hoping we see Issue 20 in the near future…

Archaeology in the Fezzan

One of the most active fields of research with regard to the Fezzan is archaeology. A British team (The Fezzan Project) has been leading work there for several decades, culminating in the publication of a number of volumes.

Mattingly, D. J., Daniels, C. M., Dore, J. N., Edwards, D. and Hawthorne, J. The Archaeology of Fazzān. Volume 1, Synthesis. The Society for Libyan Studies/Department of Antiquities, London (published 2003).

Mattingly, D. J., Daniels, C. M., Dore, J. N., Edwards, D. and Hawthorne, J. The Archaeology of Fazzān. Volume 2, Gazetteer, Pottery and Other Finds. The Society for Libyan Studies/Department of Antiquities, London (published 2007).

Mattingly, D. J., Daniels, C. M., Dore, J. N., Edwards, D. and Hawthorne, J. The Archaeology of Fazzān. Volume 3, Excavations of C.M. Daniels. The Society for Libyan Studies/Department of Antiquities, London (published 2010).

Mattingly, D. J., Daniels, C. M., Dore, J. N., Edwards, D. and Hawthorne, J. The Archaeology of Fazzān. Volume 4, Survey and Excavations at Old Jarma (Ancient Garama) carried out by C. M. Daniels (1962–69) and the Fazzān Project (1997–2001). The Society for Libyan Studies/Department of Antiquities, London (published 2013).

Quaderni di Archeologia della Libia

Quaderni di Archeologia della Libia is a journal going back to the 1950s which publishes the results of various types of archeological fieldwork and research concerning places now in Libya. Most articles are in Italian, but some are in English and other languages. As it does not seem to have its own website, I have taken the liberty of posting a link to a list of contents online.

Table of Contents (Issues 1-18) in text format.

Furthermore, most issues (they are not cheap!) can be purchased at the website of the publisher, L’Erma di Bretschneider.