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So named to distinguish it from Leptis Magna in Libya, this is a sheltered site on a cove between Hadrumetum and Thapsus on the shore of the Sahel hinterland, known for its rich agriculture. It was linked to Thysdrus, the olive capital in the center of the region. This situation on the border of a fertile, well-populated region favored the establishment and growth of the city. Originally a Carthaginian trading post, it became the important city mentioned by the ancient writers, its extensive ruins bearing witness to its prosperity.

No systematic excavations have ever been undertaken. Moreover, the present-day village of Lemta being close by, the ruins have continuously been pillaged or destroyed. The site lies between the ravines of the wadi Lemta and the wadi Bou Hajar, and stretches down to the coast. Among the remains that can be recognized by their construction or by inscriptions are an amphitheater, a theater on the side of a hill, baths, large cisterns (some of them fed by an aqueduct, others by a dam and reservoir on the wadi Bou Hajar), quays and a long jetty and, especially, the forum, which can be identified by a number of dedicatory bases. From these bases, too, we learn of a cult of Liber Pater which was organized in the municipal curiae. Another important ruin called El Knissia—presumably, therefore, a church—with fine columns of cipolino did not survive destruction, and hardly any trace remains of the necropolis that surrounded it. Finally, on the shore there is a monument built of a masonry of large stones and with a big round tower, possibly a Byzantine fortress that was later turned into an Arab ribat.

The sectors that have suffered the most despoiling are the necropoleis, whose grave gifts (a lamp and pottery)—which are all that remained—bear witness to the great antiquity of the site and the prosperity of the region up to the end of the Classical era.


G. Hannezo & L. Molins, “Notes archéologiques sur Lemta,” BAC (1897) 290-95.


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