Ward Perkins is quite dismissive of the Roman remains in Cyrenaica and writes that ‘Roman Cyrenaica was a poor province, richer in history than it was in fine contemporary monuments, and although much of Cyrenaica itself has been excavated, as well as considerable areas of Ptolemais and Apollonia, there are few Roman buildings that are of more than local significance.’8 This seems too belittling of such buildings as the Temple of Zeus at Cyrenaica and the impressive Eastern Church by the sea at Apollonia.

In northern Cyrenaica, 70 km north east of Benghazi, are the remains of Tocra, a Greco-Roman city built around 510 BC of soft sandstone which ‘did not withstand the earthquakes and other vagaries that the centuries have wrought upon the Cyrenaican coast’. According to the guide book ‘Tocra was one of the first ports settled from Cyrene and that there was a fort (and possibly a temple) on this site in the Greek period’.9 It is a quiet and tranquil place with a collection of broken masonry. Our guide told us that there had been marble but that it had been taken away. However, there is one possible piece of cipollino, with a complete shaft 2 m. /6.75 Rf high with its Corinthian capital and .25 m. /.84 Rf in diameter (Plate 5.12).

8 Ward Perkins, J B, Roman Imperial Architecture, Penguin Books Harmondsworth, England, Chapter 13, p.368.
9 Ham, Libya, p.165

Maps and Plates

Plate 5.12.jpg

Plate 5.12 One possible column of cipollino, Tocra.