(Marsa Susa) Libya.
coast about 184 km NE of Benghazi (Euesperides and
later Berenice). The town served from its foundation as
the port for Cyrene, whose history it shared until achieving autonomy during Roman times, if not before, when
it was recognized as one of the five cities of the Libyan
Pentapolis. As the fortunes of both Cyrene and Ptolemais waned in later times, Apollonia grew in prestige
and power, until it was created the provincial capital
in the 6th c. A.D. During Christian times it was more
commonly called Sozusa, from which it developed its
modern Arab name of Marsa Susa. Urban life ceased
with the Arab invasion of A.D. 643.
Excavations fall into two phases: those of the 1920s
and 1930s and those following the Second World War.
The first phase saw the clearance and restoration of the
large E basilica (6th c.), excavation of tombs, recovery
of statuary, and the documenting of some topographical
features, such as the aqueduct and an extra-mural triconch church. The latter monument, notable for traces
of a triple apse at its E end, has not been excavated.
The second phase led to the investigations of remaining important features, underwater and land. The S edge
of the walled town ran ca. 1,000 m parallel to the coast
before turning N to meet the line of the sea. While its
width today nowhere exceeds 200 m, the original town
must have included a third more territory than it does
at present since its outer and inner harbor facilities, with
their moles, warehouses, docks, shipsheds, and slipways,
have almost completely disappeared beneath the sea.
The principal buildings found inside the town walls
are Roman or later. However, earlier inhabitation is
documented by tombs in its SW corner and on the
acropolis, in which pottery and coins of the 5th through
the 3d c. have been found. Furthermore, pottery from
a settlement of the first half of the 6th c. B.C. has been
brought to light in the lowest occupation stratum W of
the acropolis in the vicinity of the eastern basilica. In all
probability Apollonia was used as the main port for
Cyrene as early as the second generation of settlers following the foundation of the metropolis ca. 631 B.C.
The side of the town facing seaward was never walled.
The defensive system was constructed in the Hellenistic
period (ca. 250 B.C.) and then extensively overhauled
and repaired in early Byzantine times. It consisted of
three elements: towers, gates, and curtain wall. Nineteen
towers survive on land, two round and the remainder
rectangular. Only one major gateway survives at the W
end of the city, while traces of smaller posterns have
been found by each tower along the W and S perimeter. The original curtain consisted throughout of stone
headers and stretchers. Each tower was connected by
a short line of straight curtain to form an indented
Within its walls Apollonia was divided lengthwise
by a broad avenue, which ran from the W end of town
to the acropolis hill occupying the E quarter. Here the
rise in ground level halted the further progress of the
decumanus, which was crossed at right angles by narrow
cardines at intervals of every 35 m, at least in the urban
center where traces of two such streets have been
The first monument to be encountered in the W sector
is a Byzantine mortuary chapel, built against an exterior angle of the city wall. This structure, which has
four central pillars supporting a dome, housed the remains of a saint or bishop in a Roman sarcophagus, recut in Byzantine times. Just inside the line of the city wall is the restored western basilica, whose apse occupies a former rectangular wall tower. Its nave and
side aisles are divided by columns of varying types,
sizes, and materials. A complex of rooms E of its narthex
contained a small baptistery with sunken baptismal tank.
Both the church and baptistery date to the 6th c. Nearby,
along the inner face of the city wall, are three excavated
rooms of Byzantine date. Their design, as well as their
proximity to the main W gate and its associated small
oval piazza, suggest that their function was largely
governmental and bureaucratic.
The 6th c. central basilica lies ca. 200 m E of the
west gate. Its restored interior was originally entered
from the W through a small atrium, which in turn led
into a long narrow narthex with apses at either end.
Local limestone provided the material for some of its
columns as well as sections of its paving. Since the rest
of its fittings were of marble, evidently pre-cut materials were shipped to Apollonia where a structure had
to be improvised for their accommodation. A substantial
Roman bath, which, prior to its conversion around A.D.
100, served as a Late Hellenistic palazzo signorile
located E of the church. Immediately N are remains of
the late baths, built to replace the Roman baths after
the earthquake of A.D. 365. Their construction indicates
that they were never completed.
The Palace of the Byzantine Dux (ca. A.D. 500) was
erected on the hillside SE of the Roman baths. This
major complex was divided into two sections, with its
W half containing the ceremonial chambers of the governor when Apollonia was the provincial capital. These
include an audience hail, guardroom, armory, atrium,
and chapel. The E wing is less monumental and appears
largely residential in nature. An early Roman villa and
small houses belonging to the Byzantine period are located ca. 100 m to the NE of the palace. Separated from
the Byzantine housing quarter is the restored E basilica
(5th or 6th c.), built on top of an unidentified Hellenistic
building. The nave of this imposing monument is
divided by large monolithic columns of cipollino marble.
A baptistery of triconch plan is attached to its NE corner.
As ground rises toward the acropolis hill a rocky
outcropping marks the site of a heroon dedicated to
the nymph (?) Callicrateia. Further NE are a series
of chambers, probably functioning as warehouses, hewn
out of the rock ledge facing the sea. Remains of vaulted
cisterns and Byzantine houses are located close by. The
top of the acropolis hill was left open, with a series of
rooms of late date grouped around. No sure identification of this area's use has been made.
The Hellenistic theater, whose scene building was reconstructed during the reign of Domitian, is located just
outside the city walls E of the acropolis. A small section
of slipways is visible about half a kilometer off shore
from the center of the city. These once belonged to the
inner harbor and today rise above the sea in the form of
an island. A second island slightly to the E preserves
traces of the base of an ancient pharos. About a kilometer W of the city are foundations of a Hellenistic temple,
as yet unidentified.
R. G. Goodchild, “A Byzantine Palace
at Apollonia (Cyrenaica),” Antiquity
34 (1960) 246-58;
Cyrene and Apollonia. An Historical Guide
Kyrene und Apollonia
; J. du P. Taylor,
; D. White, “Excavations at Apollonia, Cyrenaica,” AJA
70 (1966) 259-65MP
; J. G. Pedley, “Excavations at Apollonia, Cyrenaica,” AJA
71 (1967) 141-47MP
. See also J. Ph. Lauer, “L'enceinte d'Apollonia à Mersa Souza (Cyrénaïque),” RA
7.1 (1963) 130-53.