Medinat As Sultan
The Name Sultan
The name As Sultan, Es Sultan, Al Sulţān, or Sultan, means 'king, ruler or sovereign', especially one from the Turkish Ottoman empire, when the word entered the English dictionary in the 16th century. The name sultan is a popular person name in the whole of North Africa and the Middle East, which because it implies power, status and kingship, one may also associate it with the ancient Egyptian Suten. Strangely enough, the name Sultan (in English) also means "a variety of small white domestic fowl that originated in Turkey", where the guinea fowl went on to become the Christmas turkey.
History: but why this particular place was named "Sultan"?
The area once served the Islamic Fatimid rulers (the sultans) with a strategic command point, ideally located between Libya's three provinces: Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan, and as such was also an important trade city for the trans-Saharan caravans coming from the Sahara and sub-Saharan Africa. It is plausible that the reason the Fatimids rulers chose the site as a command post can be attributed to the historical records indicating that after subduing Cyrenaica the Fatimid generals were met by heavier opposition in Tripolitania, and as a result retreated to the border area between Cyrenaica and Tripolitania. Indeed, as we shall see below, this area was the official border between the Greek-run Cyrenaica and the Carthaginian-controlled Tripolitania.
Originally the town was part of Ajdabiya District between the years 2001 and 2007, and between 1987 and 1995 when it covered a much larger area, with its capital at Ajdabiya city. It is found along the coast of the northeastern part of Libya, after Surt and before Benghazi. Since 2007 this district was renamed Alwahat District (the Oases District), bordered by the districts: Alhizam Alakhdar (the Green Belt), Alkufrah, Aljufrah and Surt (from the west). The rising town has a number of interesting landmarks, archaeological sites, remains of a large mosque (probably from the Fatimid period), Byzantine ceramics, Islamic pottery, stone reliefs, and a number of exhibits from the arch including the bronze statues.
Marble relief from the Italian Philaeni Arch.
The Triumphal Arch (Arco Philaeni)
The 5-meters-high Triumphal Arch was built by the Italian Italo Balbo (1896-1940), in dedication to the Philaeni brothers, some 200 miles west of the original site near Ras Lanuf, where the foundation of the arch is still visible as flattened grounds on either side of the road. After the 1st of September, the government declared the work a "fascist symbol of colonialism" and was destroyed.
A scene showing a farmer ploughing the ground.
These stone reliefs formed a collection of scenes which once decorated the arch. The above one shows Mussolini standing on the left of the panel (second from left) and saluted by one of his soldiers (second from right).
The Hollow Bronze Statues of Assultan Triumphal
References & Further Resources
Excavations at Surt (Medinet al-Sultan) Between l977 and l981: