(Tripoli, Trablus) Libya.
one of the three cities (treis poleis) that gave the region
its name. Founded as a trading station by the Carthaginians beside a small natural harbor, it prospered under
Roman rule. In late antiquity its location in a fertile
coastal oasis saved it to some extent from the rapid
decline of its neighbors, and after the Arab conquest
of A.D. 643 it was chosen to be the military and administrative capital of the whole territory between the
two Syrtes. The heart of the Classical city, enclosed
within its late antique walls, has been continuously occupied ever since, obliterating all but a few remains of the Roman town.
The principal surviving monument is an elaborately
ornamental quadrifrons archway dedicated to M. Aurelius and L. Verus in A.D. 163, the central stone dome
of which was carried on flat slabs laid across the angles
and was concealed externally within the masonry of an
attic, now destroyed. Early drawings show this attic in
turn supporting a circular pavilion, but this seems to have
been a later Islamic addition. The arch stood at the intersection of the two main streets of the town and the adjoining streets and alleyways of the post-Classical town incorporate many elements of an orthogonal street plan.
Near the arch are the remains of a temple dedicated to
the Genius Colonine (A.D. 183-85), and the forum probably lay nearby. There was a monumental bath on or near the site of the present castle. The city walls, demolished in 1913, incorporated long stretches of the late
Near the base of the W harbor mole was found a
Punic and Roman cemetery, and scattered burials, including a small Jewish catacomb (now destroyed), have
come to light towards the E, under the modern town.
In and near the oasis are the remains of several villas,
with mosaics; also two Christian cemeteries, one of the
5th c. at Ain Zara, and one of the 10th c., at En-Ngila.
The archaeological museum, housed in the castle,
contains antiquities from the whole of Tripolitania except Sabratha. The fine series of sculpture from Leptis
Magna includes the Julio-Claudian group from the
Forum Vetus and the figured panels of the Severan
Arch. Other notable exhibits are the mosaics and the
Romano-Libyan sculpture from Ghirza.
S. Aurigemma, “Le fortificazioni della
cittá di Tripoli,” Notiziario Archeologico del Ministero
2 (1916) 217-300; “L'arco quadrifronte di
Marco Aurelio e di Lucio Vero in Tripoli,” Suppl. to
3 (1969); G. Caputo, “Il tempio oeense
del Genio della Colonia,” Africa Italiana
7 (1940) 35-45; J. M. Reynolds and J. B. Ward-Perkins, Inscriptions
of Roman Tripolitania
(1952) 63-72; D.E.L. Haynes,
An Archaeological and Historical Guide to the pre-Islamic Antiquities of Tripolitania
(1955) 101-6; P. Romanelli, “Tripoli,” EAA
VII (1965) 986-87.
J. B. WARD-PERKINS