later ARSINOE (Tawqrah or Tocra）
A city of the Libyan Pentapolis on the
coast between Berenice and Ptolemais. The name (Hdt
4.171) is probably Libyan. In the 3d c. B.C. the city
was named Arsinoe after the consort of Ptolemy II
Philadelphus. The country around was fertile and there
were many wells, which may help to explain why, despite
its poor anchorage, Tocra became the last Byzantine
stronghold in Cyrenaica.
The archaic pottery from the excavations (1963-65)
in a small area of the city by the shore, shows that there
was a settlement here in the twenties of the 7th c. B.C.
within a decade of the traditional foundation of Cyrene.
The great mass of it came from votive deposits and
indicates that there was already close at hand a much
frequented shrine of Demeter and Kore. Among the
early sherds are imports from Corinth, Rhodes, the
Cyclades, Lakonia, and Crete. Few structural remains
were found, but there were remains of early huts and
stretches of a wall which may, it is suggested, have been
part of a defensive wall protecting the early settlement.
The votive offerings continue more sparsely into the 5th
and 4th c. and the beginnings of the Hellenistic period.
The most prominent remains of ancient Tocra are its
Byzantine walls. Many of the 30 great square or polygonal towers and an advance wall (proteichisma) on the
W and S sides are clearly Byzantine, but the main circuit
is built on the line of the Hellenistic walls. The walls,
described and drawn by various early travelers, form a
rough square with sides of about 650 m. On the landward sides they still stand in places several meters high, but they have almost entirely vanished on the seaward side.
The quarries, in which numerous tombs had been
cut, have yielded fine vases. Many inscriptions, some of
them Jewish, have been found among the tombs. Among
inscriptions found within the city was part of an Edict
Systematic excavation within the walls was begun in
1939. The general lines of the main streets had long
been visible, showing a grid of insulae. Three churches,
each with an apse at the E end, were known, one outside
the W wall. A large, solid building near the center of
the town is regarded as probably the Byzantine governor's palace. In 1966 and 1967 a detailed survey of
the town buildings and of the walls was prepared, making use of recent air photographs. The existence was
established of three main periods of construction of the
city wall and the street system and 18 internal buildings
were related to the new survey.
F. W. and H. W. Beechey, Proceedings of the Expedition to explore the northern coast of Africa
1821-22 (1828) 367P
; Kees, “Taucheira,” RE
IV 2 (1932); G. Oliverio, “F. Halbherr in Cirenaica,” Africa italiana
; Documenti antichi dell' Africa italiana, Cirenaica
; P. Romanelli, La Cirenaica romana
(1943); G.R.H. Wright, “Excavations at Tocra,” PEQ
(1963) 22; J. Boardman and J. Hayes, Excavations at Tocra, 1963-65
I: The Archaic Deposits
(1968); II: The Archaic Deposits and Later Deposits