Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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To the Shores of Tripoli Volume 55 Number 5, September/October 2002
by Louis Werner

Remarkably preserved Roman cities, lavish mosaics, and an absence of pestering trinket-mongers make Libya a compelling destination for archaeology buffs.


Of all the exotic vacation destinations Americans dream about, Libya probably ranks close to last. The place conjures images of shadowy terrorist networks, exploding jetliners, and American flags burning in the streets. There's no U.S. embassy in Libya, the State Department website warns, and any American visitor in peril there must seek protection with the Belgians.

Libya beckoned anyway, and on the advice of David Mattingly, a British archaeologist working in Libya's southern Fezzan region, I put together an itinerary that would take me from some of the Mediterranean's finest Greek and Roman sites, to vast pyramid cemeteries deep in the southern desert, finishing up at a legendary caravan city hard along the Algerian border.

Louis Werner, a New York writer, travels frequently to the Middle East and North Africa.

© 2002 by the Archaeological Institute of America