Tolmeitha (Ad Dirsiyah)

archaeological map of Tolmeita


The port of Tolmeitha or Tholmeitha is generally know as Ptolemais after Ptolemy III. The village is located in a beautiful area between the Green Mountain and the sea, about 30 km east of Almerj (Berqa). In Google Map this location is marked as Ad Dirsiyah. It was founded as port to serve Almerj, after it became a busy commercial centre during the sixth century BC, with goods arriving from the nearby ports, such as Alexandria port in Egypt, as well as to export the main produce of the region, like silphium, honey, butter and grains.


tolmeita temple

Tolmeitha rose to fame so quickly and became the capital of Cyrenaica during the 4th and 5th centuries AD. Historical records show that the port was originally called "Berqa Port", which also indicates the existence of the site before the Greek invasions, after which it became known as Ptolemais. It was thought that the city was founded during the reign of Ptolemy III, after his marriage to the local princess Berenice, who gave her name to ancient Berenice (Benghazi).




Places of interest include the two gate towers of Tocra Gate, the theatre, the stadium, the Basilica, the Roman Villa of Columns, and the museum of Tolmeita , which houses a number of statues, stones, and a small collection of mosaics. Also there are several marble tablets showing various records of the main historical events of the town, as well as some price lists.  Ptolemais also provides a unique experience to tourists, namely the underground complex of cisterns under the agora. The capacity of this system of cisterns was said to be 6 million litres of water, originally maintained via a 25 kilometre long aqueduct.


tolmeita by the sea


Tolmeita Coin Treasure

A Polish archaeological delegation discovered a large Roman coin treasure, found buried among the rubbles of Tolmeita. The Polish experts, who exhibited the treasure in Poland, have deduced from the coins that the area was hit by two earthquakes in the years 262 (or 251) and 365 AD. They say they have documents which confirm the existence of the earthquakes in those years. The treasure was found in a small house which was destroyed by the earthquake, and contained 568 coins, of which 553 were bronze, and 15 silver.