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MARMA´RICA ( Μαρμαρική), the sandy and barren district, which extends along the S. coast of the Mediterranean, from the valley of the Nile to the Cyrenaica, and is now called the Desert of Barkah, and divided by no certain line of demarcation between the Pasha of Aegypt and the ruler of Tripoli. The MARMARIDAE (οἱ Μαρμαρίδαι), a Libyan tribe, gave their name, which Niebuhr (Lect. on Anc. Ethnog. and Geog. vol. ii. p. 336) derives from the word “Mar” == salt, with a reduplication common to these languages, to the region they occupied. They appear as the principal indigenous tribe to the W. of Aegypt, between the age of Philip of Macedon, and the third century of the Christian aera (Scylax, 100.107, ed. Klausen; Strab. ii. p.131, xvii. pp. 798, 825, 838; Plin. Nat. 5.5; Joseph. B. J. 2.16.4; Vopisc. Vit. Prob. 100.9), but are not mentioned by Herodotus; it is probable that they were pushed into the interior of the country, by the Greek colonists of Cyrene, and afterwards recovered their ancient seats. In the reign of Magas of Cyrene, the Marmaridae revolted, and compelled that prince to give up his intention of attacking Ptolemy Philadelphus, and the Aegyptian frontier. (Paus. 1.7. §§ 1, 2.) The ancients differed considerably in the limits they assigned to the Marmaridae: Scylax (l.c.) places them between Apis, and the Gardens of the Hesperides; Pliny (l.c.) between Paraetonium, and the Greater Syrtis; while Strabo (xvii. p.838) extends their frontier to the S. as far as the Oasis of Ammonium (Sivah). Ptolemy (4.5. §§ 1--10) bounds the district Marmarica, on the E. by the Plinthinetic gulf, and on the W. by a line which is drawn through the town of Darnis (Derna); he divides this region--according to the arrangement made by the Ptolemies when Cyrenaica became a dependency of Aegypt--into two parts, the E. of which was called LIBYCUS NOMOS (Λιβύης νόμος, § 4) and the W. MARMARICUS NOMOS (Μαρμαρικῆς νόμος; § 2); the line of separation was made by the CATABATHMUS MAGNUS (Κατάβαθμος μέγας, Plb. 31.26; Strab. pp. 791, 798, 825, 838; Stadiasm. p. 440; Sal. Jug. 19; Mela, 1.8.2; Plin. Nat. 5.5; Oros. 1.2; Steph. B. sub voce This elevation, which rises to the height of 900 feet, according to some authors separated Aegypt from Cyrenaica, and extends from the coast in a SSE. direction towards the Oasis of of Ammonium. Edrisi (vol. i. p. 125, ed. Jaubert.) calls it ‘Akábah el Scllom, or staircase descent, whence the port Solom and Soloume of most of the earlier “Portulani;” the modern name is ‘Akábah el Kibír. Further to the E., near Paraetonium, was the smaller inclination CATABATHMUS MINOR (Strab. p. 838; Solin. 30), now called ‘Akábah el Sgïr, the height of which is 500 feet. Shooting out into the sea, in the headland Ras el Kanaïs, it takes a direction from N. to S. to the Oasis of Ghara. In the sea-board of this arid space, following the coast from E. to W., were the promontories of DERIS (el Heyf); HERMAEUM (Ras el Kaanïs); the harbour of GYZIS or ZYGIS (Mahadah); PARAETONIUM (Ras el Harzeit); APIS (Bonn Ajoubah); the little rocks called SCOPULI TYNDAREI (el Chaïry) ; PLYNI PS. (Ras Halem); PANORMUS (Marsah Saloum) ; ARDANIS PROM. (Ras el Mellah), with the adjoining harbour MENELAI PS.; ANTIPYRGOS (Tobrûk); PETRAS PARVUS (Magharat el Heabés), with its harbour BATRACHUS; AEDONIA PS. (Aïn el Ghazáh), with the islands AEDONIA and PLATEA (Bomba), and CHERSONESUS (Ras et Tîn.) Along the whole of this coast a road ran, the stations on which are given in the Peutinger Table. (Segm. viii.) One river, the PALIURUS (Παλίουρος, Ptol. 4.5.2: el Zemminéh), watering the district of AZIRIS discharges itself into the sea at the Gulf of Bomba. The interior, which was occupied by the tribes of the ADYRMACHIDAE and GILIGAMMAE is described under OASIS. TAPOSIRIS, APIS, and PARAETONIUM were the chief towns, of [p. 2.278]which the ruins still remain. Throughout the whole of Marmarica no vestiges of Aegyptian architecture before the Greek period have been found. The seaonion, “scilla maritima,” and madder, “rubia,” which cover the plains, remind the traveller of what Herodotus (4.189, 190) says about the practice of the Libyan women dying their goat-skins with red, and of the portable houses constructed of stalks of asphodel, intertwined with rushes. Now, as then, the “jerboa” (δίπους, Hdt. 4.192) is common. The few coins of Marmaric towns, such as those of Apis and Batrachus, are of the same workmanship as the Aegyptian mints. (Eckhel, vol. iv. p. 116.)

Ptolemy (4.5.22) enumerates the following tribes in Marmarica:--In the Lybian nome, along the coast, the ZYGRITAE (Ζυγρῖται), CHATTANI (Χαττανοί), and Zygenses (Ζυγεῖς); further to the S., in the interior, the BUZENSES (Βουζεῖς) and OGDAEMI. In the district of Ammonium (§ 23), the ANAGOMBRI (Ἀνάγομβροι), IOBACCHI (Ἰοβακχοί), and RUADITAE (Ῥουαδῖται). In the Marmaric nome, to the N., on the coast, the LIBYARCHAE (Λιβυάρχαι), the ANERITAE (Ἀνηρῖται), and BASSACHITAE (Βασαχῖται); to the S. of these, the AUGILAE (Αὐγίλαι), NASAMONES (Νασαμῶνες), and BACATAE (Βακάται); then the AUSCHISAE (Αὐσχίσαι), who belong more properly to Cyrenaica; TAPANITAE (Ταπανῖται); and further to the S. the SENTITES (Σέντιτες), OBILAE (Ὀβίλαι), and AEZARI (Αἴζαροι).

(Pacho, Voyage dans la Marmarique, pp. 1--81; Barth, Wanderungen, pp. 499--546.)


hide References (8 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (8):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 4.190
    • Herodotus, Histories, 4.189
    • Herodotus, Histories, 4.192
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.7
    • Polybius, Histories, 31.26
    • Sallust, Bellum Iugurthinum, 19
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 5.5
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 4.5
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