Saturday, June 18, 2011

Leptis Magna used as archaeological shield by Gaddafi

PHOENICIAN AND PUNIC WATCH: Col. Gaddafi is reported to be using at least one archaeological site as a shield for armaments:
A petty tyrant hides behind the relics of a magnificent civilisation

Historian Bettany Hughes worries for the future of Leptis Magna, as Colonel Gaddafi moves his tanks among the treasures.

By Bettany Hughes (The Telegraph)

7:00AM BST 18 Jun 2011

... Rebel forces in Libya reported this week that Colonel Gaddafi is using the site as an archaeological shield. Missiles, launchers and troops are, they say, snuggled among columns, corridors and archways. Nato forces – in Gaddafi’s reckoning – won’t bomb them, or his men. Clever. They won’t. But if Gaddafi is holding explosives in this World Heritage Site, a single stray cigarette butt could kick start a sequence that sends it all up in smoke.

The loss of Leptis would be unthinkable. Founded by Phoenician traders in the Bronze Age, the city-complex has been a theatre of power and pleasure, of indulgence and intellect for more than 3,000 years. It is one of the best-preserved ancient sites in the Mediterranean. Ruled by Carthage for centuries, the Romans quickly conquered it. Recent discoveries include an eye-wateringly exquisite series of Roman-period mosaics, where warriors hound animals and a spent gladiator lords it over the corpse of his sparring partner. It was a local boy, Septimius Severus, who in the 2nd century AD really made Leptis roar, rebuilding the forum and the port – as Roman emperor he promoted the city to the premier league. Leptis is a megalithic incarnation of this region’s high-octane, personality-driven history.

Aerial bombardment of the site with water balloons filled with refined liquid putrescine would clear it pretty quickly of people, and then the weaponry wouldn't matter much. The ruins wouldn't mind. No one ever listens to me about these things.