Nepal | August 11, 2020

Libya’s ancient ruins blighted by theft, shunned by tourists

Reuters
Share Now:

CYRENE, LIBYA: Graffiti covers the walls of a Greek amphitheatre in Cyrene, an ancient ruined city in eastern Libya now struggling with neglect, vandals and illegal confiscation of land by locals.

The deserted souvenir shops and cafes on the mountainous road leading to the 2,600-year-old site are the only reminders that this used to be a major tourist destination.

Looting has hit Libya’s archaeological sites since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 when the country descended into turmoil with rival administrations competing for control.

Cyrene is one of five of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites in the North African country listed for their outstanding value. Others include the ruins of the Roman city of Leptis Magna, and Sabratha, both in western Libya.

Apart from Cyrene, some 200 km (124 miles) east of Benghazi, the east of the country has the Apollonia site just 20 km away.

With tourists gone and the antiquities department complaining about budget shortages, vandals have smeared graffiti on columns and looted artefacts.

Some treasures such as heads or entire torsos of statues listed in guidebooks issued in 2011 are no longer there.

“Many artefacts have been smuggled abroad,” said Ahmad Hussein, the head of the antiquities department of a parallel administration in charge of eastern Libya.

Unable to prevent theft, his department has been registering artefacts, a process which has helped to recover some in Europe, he said.

There was better site protection before 2011, but excavation at the site, in fact, dates back to Italian rule — the colonialists’ equipment can still be seen. The last Italians left the east in 1943 following their military defeat when the region came under British administration.

“There has been a lot of destruction in recent years,” said Ismail Miftah, a farmer living next to Cyrene. “Ordinary people don’t appreciate the ancient heritage.”


Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Two held with illegal drugs in Pokhara

POKHARA: Police arrested two persons in possession of a huge cache of illegal drugs from Shivatole in Pokhara-10 on Monday. Acting on a tip off, a police team deployed from Rambazaar Police Post apprehended Jeet Bahadur BK, 20, of Harinas Rural Municipality-4 in Syangja district and Rohit Gha Read More...

Flights, long-haul transport to remain suspended till August 31

KATHMANDU: The Cabinet meeting held today decided to resume flight operations from September 1. Citing the worsening situation due to the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country, the Cabinet postponed the resumption of domestic and international flights. Earlier on July 20, while anno Read More...

Extra-time Fernandes penalty sends United into Europa semis

COLOGNE: Manchester United were forced to dig deep to reach the Europa League semi-finals as Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes converted a 95th-minute penalty to secure a 1-0 win over a stubborn FC Copenhagen side after extra time on Monday. United, who won Europe's second-tier comp Read More...

Coronavirus in APF personnel increases risk of community spread in Jhapa

Jhapa, August 10 It is suspected that COVID-19 has spread at the community level in Gauradah Municipality of Jhapa. With the detection of COVID in five people, including APF personnel today, the risk of COVID spread at the community level has increased in wards 6, 7 and 8 of the municipality. Read More...

Livewire Lukaku leads Inter to Europa League semi-finals

DUSSELDORF: Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku scored the winner in a 2-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen as he tormented the Germans to lead his side into the Europa League semi-finals on Monday. Nicolo Barella put Inter ahead after 15 minutes, driving the ball home after Lukaku's shot w Read More...

COVID cases on the rise in Dharan

Dharan, August 10 The number of people infected with COVID-19 is increasing in Dharan Sub-metropolitan City. Nine more people tested positive for the disease in the city today. After the virus spread in the community from Preeti Valve and Fittings factory in Dharan Industrial Estate, the su Read More...

Bara to set up 400-bed isolation ward

Bara, August 10 Authorities in Bara have decided to set up a 400-bed provincial isolation ward in Jitpursimara Sub-metropolitan City for treatment of coronavirus infected persons. “Work to construct the isolation ward will start from tomorrow and finish in two weeks,” said Jitpursimara sub Read More...

Cases of coronavirus rising among bank staff

KATHMANDU, AUGUST 10 The rising cases of coronavirus among bank staffers across the country have raised serious concerns over the effectiveness of measures adopted by banks and financial institutions (BFIs) to prevent the spread of the virus. As banking services are among essential services an Read More...