Ruins of the Cyrene (Shahhat) necropolis before bulldozing
Writing in The Arts Newspaper, Emily Sharpe reports that –
Several ancient tombs at a Unesco World Heritage Site in northeastern Libya have been bulldozed to clear space for a residential complex. Local farmers, who have laid claim to part of the vast necropolis at Cyrene, began demolishing a mile-long section of the site last week in the hope of selling 500 sq. m parcels to real estate developers. Although the proper authorities have been notified, the country’s current fragile political situation has left them unable to intervene.
“Ancient artefacts were thrown into a nearby river as if they were mere rubbish,” Ahmed Hussein, an archaeology professor at Bayda University, told France 24.He says that around “200 vaults and tombs were destroyed, as well as a section of a viaduct that dates back to approximately AD200.” The ancient Greek colony, which was founded in the seventh century BC, is described by Unesco as “one of the principal cities in the Hellenic world” and its necropolis is considered one of the largest and most varied of its kind. The site is one of Libya’s five World Heritage Sites.