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Another city under the sea

2 September 2010

At www.theartnewspaper.com September 2nd … BP aims to drill some exploratory oil wells off the Libyan coast and this has alarmed French archaeologists who are worried about some ancient sites that exist below and at sea level in what was once Cyrenaica and Tripolitania in the Classical period – quite apart from anything that may date from before the Grreks and Romans. For example, the ancient town and harbour of Apollonia is now submerged, under 5m of water. It is therefore vulnerable to an oil spill and BP at the moment has that chain hanging round its kneck. The complete town subsided and streets, walls and houses have been preserved intact – and await archaeological investigation. Elsewhere in Libya, very close to the sea are Leptis Magna (a Roman city and harbour) and Sabratha, another well preserved Roman town – settled by Greeks in the 7th century BC and captured by Arabs in the 7th century AD. The continental shelf off the coast of Tunisia is also thought to be worth a closer inspection.

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