SY´RTICA REGIO or SYRTES
, Ptol. 4.3
), a tract on the coast of N. Africa, between the Syrtis Major and Minor, about 100 miles in length. (Strab. xvii. p.834
, sq.; Mela, 1.7; Plin. Nat. 5.4. s. 4
After the third century it obtained the name of the Regio Tripolitana, from the three principal cities, which were allied together, whence the modern name of Tripoli
(Not. Imp. Occid.
100.45; Procop. de Aed.
6.3; cf. Solinus, 100.27
). Mannert conjectures (x. pt. ii. p. 133) that the emperor Septimius Severus, who was a native of Leptis, was the founder of this Provincia Tripolitana, which, according to the Not. Imp. (l.c.
), was governed by its own duke (Dux) (Comp. Amm. Marc. 28.6
The district was attributed by Ptolemy, Mela, and Pliny to Africa Propria; but in reality it formed a separate district, which at first belonged to the Cyrenaeans, but was subsequently wrested from them and annexed to Carthage, and, when the whole kingdom of the latter was subjected to the Romans, formed a part of the Roman province of Africa. For the most part the soil was sandy and little capable of cultivation, as it still remains to the present day (Della Cella, Viaggio,
p. 50); yet on the borders of the river Cinyps and in the neighbourhood of the town of Leptis, there was some rich and productive land. (Hdt. 4.198
; Scylax, p. 47
; Strab. xvii. p.835
; Ovid, ex font.
2.7. 25.) Ptolemy mentions several mountains in the district, as Mount Giglius or Gigius (τὸ Γίγιον ὄρος,
4.3.20), Mount Thizibi (τὸ Θίζιβι ὄρος,
ib.) Mount Zuchabbari or Chuzabarri (τὸ Ζουχάββαρι ἢ Χουζάβαρρι,
ib.) and Mount Vasaluetum or Vasaleton (τὸ Οὐασάλαιτον ἢ Οὐασάλετον ὄρος,
ib. § 18).
The more important promontories were Cephalae (Κεφαλαὶ ἄκρον, Ptol. 4.3.13
), near which also, on the W., the same author [p. 2.1081]
mentions another promontory, Trieron (Τριήρων
or Τρίηρον ἄκρον,
ib.) and Zeitha (τὰ Ζεῖθα,
ib. § 12).
The principal rivers were the Cinyps or Cinyphus (Ptol. ib. § 20), in the eastern part of the district, and the Triton, which formed its western boundary, and by which the three lakes called Tritonitis, Pallas, and Libya were supplied (ib. § 19). Besides these waters there were extensive salt lakes and marshes along the coast (Strab. l.c.; Tab. Peut.
The lotus is mentioned among the scanty products of this unfertile land (Plin. Nat. 24.1. s. 1
), and a peculiar kind of precious stones, called after the country Syrtides gemmae, was found on the coast (Id. 37.10.67).
The tribes that inhabited the country besides the Nasamones, Psytti, and Macae, who in the earlier times at least spread themselves over this district, were the Lotophagi [Vol. II. p. 205], who dwelt about Syrtis Minor, and the Gindanes [Vol. I. p. 1002], who were situated to the W. of the former. Ptolemy, however, in place of these more ancient tribes, mentions others that are heard of nowhere else, as the Nigitimi, Samamycii, Nycpii, Nygbeni, Elaeones, Damnesii, &c. (4.3. § § 23--27). But Egyptian and Phoenician colonists had been mixed at a very early period with these aboriginal Libyan tribes, whom the Greeks found there when they settled upon the coast, and with whom, probably, they had. for some time previously had connections.
The most important towns of the Regio Syrtica were the three from which it subsequently derived its name of Tripolitana, that is, Leptis Magna, Oea, and Sabrata; besides which we find Tacape and other places mentioned by Ptolemy. Opposite to the coast lay the islands of Meninx and Cercina.