The route to Ghirza, Libya, from Qaddah'yah: requires a 4WD vehicle;
broken rocky tracks.
an ancient Berber farming community, located in Wadi Ghirza,
about 156 miles south-south-east of Tripoli (see map below).
The town was studied by Olwen Brogan and Dr E. Vergara-Caffarelli
in 1952 and 1953.
The town was later occupied by the Romans during their invasions
Its archaeological remains include
at least eighteen fortified farmhouses, with wells and cisterns
to catch rain water, and many more smaller buildings nearby,
the remains of a standard Berber olive-press, cemeteries and
temples.The farmhouses are two- or three-storey buildings, built
of rubble core and mud, and enclosing, like typical Libyan houses,
an open courtyard. They had doors, windows and balconies
overlooking the courtyard. Although presently
there are no palm trees in the area, they were frequently pictured in
the sculptures in the mausoleums.
Mausoleums From Ghirza, Libya.
Also unique to Ghirza are the two groups
of advanced mausoleum tombs, which are of high standard and
built of limestone with craftsmanship.
Mausoleums (or mausolea)
are monumental tombs of kings or powerful leaders. The Latin
itself comes from the Tomb of Mausolus,
King of Caria, at Halicarnassus.
The stones are perfect squares, with four classical pillars, one on each corner, arches, stairs, ornamented with sculptured reliefs
and rosettes. The mausoleum have a false door which symbolises
the deceased's entry into the after-life.
This Ghirza Mausoleum, currently housed at Assaraya Alhamra
Museum in Tripoli, Libya.
The name Ghirza appears in several place-names
of classical times, such as the Roman civitas
Gurzensis and the Gurza of Ptolemy. Its
chief Sun-God Ghurza, mentioned as Gurzil by Corippus, and Kurza by
al-Bakari (11th century
AD), was a prophesy god, whose faceless mass was said to represent
the image of the deceased in a seated position, and thus he is
represented as the offspring of the Libyan prophetic god Amon. There
were about twenty small votive altars in the debris of the temple, on three of
which were inscriptions in the ancient Berber script known as Tifinagh (the
Libyan Alphabet); most of which are still awaiting deciphering. The destroyed
temple was later rebuilt as a Berber house, with more inscriptions scratched
on the plaster of its walls.
Berber Tifinagh Inscriptions, Ghirza, Libya.
Tomb Door, Ghirza, Libya.
This door was found in a tomb,
and thought to help the soul enter the tomb to visit the body of
the deceased; probably to keep unwanted stray souls away from
the body of the deceased king or queen.
Ghirza: A Libyan Settlement in the Roman Period:
by O. Brogan and D. J. Smith. 1984. Contains detailed studies of many
of the buildings, temples, tombs, and cemeteries found in the area, and specialists'
finds reports covering Roman pottery and lamps, coins, glass, Latin and Libyan
inscriptions and altars, Islamic pottery, and mirror boxes, skeletal remains,
wood and charcoal samples, botanical remains and textiles. 330 pp. 172 black
and white plates.