Brief History & Prehistory of Libya
The Lost Empire Without Borders
The ancient history of Libya, the undiscovered country,
is mainly known to us through a few scattered ancient Egyptian
references and loose Greek and Roman descriptions, such as those
of Herodotus, Diodorus and Sallust; the last of whom wrote
in his "Jugurthine
War" that: "Africa was in the beginning
peopled by the Gaetulians and Libyans, rude and uncivilized tribes, who
subsisted on the flesh of wild animals, or on the herbage of the
soil like cattle"; before he goes on to expause, "They
were controlled by neither customs, laws, nor the authority of any ruler; they
roamed about . . . and slept in those shelters to which
night drove them."
more recent hypo-theses pertaining the history and the
origin of the Libyans, the Berbers, are no better than Sallust's hallucinations.
Some say the ancient Libyans came from Asia; supremacists say
they escaped Europe's Ice Age; Aryans
purport they were Greek invaders; eccentric Gaddafi says from Yemen; some Eurocentricists
connect them with blond sea pirates; while exotic writers derive them from Libyan
Poseidon's Atlantis - somewhere between the lines of Plato's Atlas Mountain
in 'Libya'. Landing from Orion, Sirius or Draco derails the whole "pro-ject"
off the record by denying the Berbers any association
with the 'earth'.
The truth is simple: Libya and the whole
North African littoral was originally inhabited by an indigenous group
of Berber tribes whose linguistic unity proves an ethnic sub-stratum
of autochthons single race had existed in North Africa from the Mediterranean
to the Sudan and from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea; occupying nearly half
Africa and comprising massive Libya and Algeria, as well as the Sahara
herself, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Mali, Burkina
Faso and the conquered Canary Islands themselves.
This linguistic unity of such diverse
world is part of much larger phylum which includes Ancient
Egyptian, Chadic, Ethiopian, Omotic and most recently Semitic, in what is originally
known as Hamito-Semitic but now renamed Afro-Asiatic or Afrasiatic.
They have built countless civilisations including the first ones; and ever since
remain the proud Berbers of an empire without borders - the borders imposed by
outsiders together with brutal history.
The Berbers are often
excluded from Libya's history, except perhaps when they come in
contact with conflict and the various conquests their countries came
to consume. Even the late Ancient Egyptians made a habit of mentioning Libyans
or Berbers more to do with wars than anything else, such as the invasions of
King Shishenq --- just as the upsurge in Berber "politics" today
is there because of the February
albeit the debate is buried in Facebook.
Libya’s rich archaeological
heritage was first noticed by the outside world during the Italian occupation
wars, where preliminary excavations produced some outstanding results. But although
the Second War quickly brought an end to this period of excavation, steps were
taken afterwards by the Libyan government
in association with the British administration to build the "Antiquities
Department". However, Libya's archaeological heritage was left neglected
and even vandalised, and many of its treasures and remains remained scattered
across the Sahara, in millions;
looted by visitors, diplomats, tomb raiders and antiquity traders, and
reburied by sand for future humans to rediscover.
Full scientific and archaeological
survey of Libya will take decades if not centuries to complete; and therefore
proper history of Libya was never written, remains to be written, and must
include the recent genetic evidence regarding the origin of the ancient Libyans;
proving the continuous existence of the Berbers (or their ancestors) in North
Africa for the last 50,000 years. McBurney's archaeological discoveries have
previously extended this continuous existence of Libyans to 100,000 years -
one line of living entities in one single cave - Haua
Fteah Cave - one of the largest caves in the
visible world. Finally, scientists have finally confirmed that all modern humans
descended from primal Africa, and in particular from one single mother they named "African
who lived in Africa 100,000 years ago.
Hundreds of millions of years ago the Sahara desert was covered by great seas.
As the seas drifted away, land slowly gave way to a great desert, much larger
than the one we have now - around five times bigger than it is today (when Africa
and Asia were still joined together). Since then, the Sahara comes and goes,
just as ice ages do nearby. One of these most recent cycles brought heavy rainfalls
to the area, and slowly turned the Sahara to wet green land, covered with lakes
and rivers, most suitable for water-thirsty animals like hippopotami, rhinoceroses,
crocodiles, elephants, and primates.
During Europe's merciless Ice Ages, the Sahara was a warm
shelter for many European refugees, who fled their homes for the luxurious and
exotic paradise of North Africa. This lost paradise was
the home of several extinct civilisations, traces of which still are preserved
across the Sahara’s cave galleries. The cultures
were so advanced of anything known elsewhere, and had advanced, "dramatic
anthropomorphic symbolism"! Such civilisations now are the
focus of many scientific disciplines from around the world, in search of human’s
55,000,000 To 5,000,000 Years Ago
The 55 million years old fossil of a primate found in
Morocco, and the 35 million years old Aegyptopithecus found
in Fayyum, in Egypt, are considered the oldest
primate remains ever found in Africa. The earliest known
hominoid (man-like) fossil, dubbed Oligopitchecus
Savagei and which
was also found in Fayyum, is 33 million years old. About seven
million years ago, proto-humans diverged into a separate evolutionary
tree, and soon afterwards, about five million years ago, Africa itself began
to crack along its eastern ridge, leading to the formation of the Red
Sea and the emergence of the great Rift Valleys: one running from Abyssinia to
Lake Victoria, and the other from Victoria to the Zambesi. It was suggested that
the subsidence is continuously creating new lakes, which by trapping
more sediments preserve more fossils and hence the abundance of
fossil records in East Africa.
5,000,000 To 2,000,000 Years Ago
About 3.7 million years ago, the Australopithecus have
evolved to become the first ancestor who marked the beginning of
human culture, symbolised by tool making, the use of fire, and
organised settlements into perhaps what we now know as "society".
The discoveries at Ain Hanech in North Africa, when
most archaeologists believed no human artifacts older than the Pleistocene
can be found, confirmed that tool-making
(early) humans had lived in North Africa in the Pliocene. They
made hand-axes, and polygonal nodules and cores of limestone with many flakes
removed. Stone tools connected with the east African Olduvai
Tanzania, were said to be the same as those found in Ain Hanech;
suggesting a link with East Africa.
2,000,000 To 1,000,000 Years Ago
Until now, Africa was considered the only continent our early
ancestors inhabited. Around 2 million years ago, they were advanced
enough to initiate the greatest journey of all times: the exploration
of planet earth. The Homo Erectus stood up and left
Africa to colonise Asia and Europe. Their bones were found in North
Africa, as far west as Casablanca, Rabat and Ternifine,
and in Asia, as far as China. Since their earliest remains in Europe
and Asia date back to about 700,000 years ago, anthropologists
have concluded that their journey must took them more than half
a million years. Those ancestors who remained in Africa evolved
into our own species, the Homo Sapiens, who also
went on to colonise Asia and Europe.
1,000,000 To 100,000 Years Ago
Around 800,000 years ago, the Sahara was hot, tropical, very
damp and covered with swamps, lakes and rivers. There were herds of
elephants and antelopes, hippopotami in the lakes, crocodiles in
the rivers, and vegetation everywhere. This period of heavy rain
lasted for hundreds of thousands of years. Then around 450,000
years ago, the earliest type of pebble-tool in Tokra (Cyrenaica)
Dufan (Tripolitania) was replaced by the hand-axe.
About 200,000 years ago, the Neanderthals evolved, and were still
in existence when modern humans emerged about 50,000 years ago.
It was initially said that the two species did not co-exist and
thus the Neanderthals went extinct about 29,000 years ago. But, as always
is the case with premature research, scientists now say they never went extinct,
but mingled and intermarried with the new comers, just as humans still do. About
125,000 years ago the hand-axe was replaced by the Levallois or Prepared-Core technique.
Evidence from this period indicates humans were well familiar with fishing techniques,
and painted their faces with red ochre.
100,000 Years Ago
The most important Neanderthal site from Libya is the
Cave of Haua Fteah', near Marsa Sousa, in eastern
Libya; other North African sites include Jebel
Irhoud, Temara and Tangier. The Neanderthals were fairly short and had long
skulls, protruding at the back, and heavier brows and jaws. They
were the first humans to design clothes out of animal skin and
the first in line to bury their dead. The Haua Fteah' in
eastern Libya is one of the largest prehistoric cave-sites in the
world and certainly the largest in the Mediterranean basin. A super-massive
structure, providing continuous archaeological record from 100,000
years ago to the present. According to C.B.M
McBurney (Libya in History, p. 7), "During
the Last Interglacial period
some 90,000 years ago Cyrenaica was occupied by an exceptionally
inventive and advanced group of Paleolithic hunters, among the
most technologically progressive communities so far known to have
existed at the time.” These ancient Libyan hunters lived on
wild cattle, gazelle, snails and marine molluscs, and made tools
far in advance of anything known at the time, including a bone
flute. This hardly known discovery, which McBurney brought to the
attention of the international community way back in the 1950s,
remains one of the best evidences that humans have
existed continuously in one site in Libya for 100,000 years.
50,000 BC to 30,000 BC
About 37,000 years ago, Libya, and much of North Africa,
was occupied by tall, large-brained, and powerfully built humans, known as
the Cro-Magnon. The remains of this type were found to be
older than other Cro-Magnon samples from other sites (Europe
and Middle East), and it was widely believed that they were the
direct ancestors of the Berbers and the Iberians.
Cultural evidence from Fezzan, the home of the classical Garamantes
then the most advanced people in the Sahara, goes back to more
than 30,000 years. Stone implements dated to the late Acheulean
and the Aterian (named after Bir el-Ater) cultures (100,000
- 30,000 BC) were found in numerous sites from the Fezzan area,
and, according to most sources, many more await discovery. Rüdiger
and Gabriele Lutz (1955) recall the cultures of Fezzan to have evolved over the
past hundreds of thousands of years and vanished under adverse conditions. “Stone
tools of bygone eras are lying about in millions, from the relics of early and
late Acheulian (up to 500.000 years), Levalloisian (100.000 years) and Mousterian
(50.000 years) to Aterian (40.000-20.000 years).” Many of the ancient Egyptian
and Berber mythical gods and goddesses are still represented on the rock art
of the Sahara, in what is known as the largest collection of prehistoric
art in the world: well over one hundred thousand sites. The
dating of Fezzan's rock drawings to 12,000 BC is widely disputed,
and many scholars now call for pushing this date farther back in
time on the light of the recent discoveries, and also strongly
criticised the old techniques originally used to date the work
some 40 or 50 years ago.
20,000 BC to 5,000 BC
20,000 years ago humans began migrating out of the area and, according to the
latest genetic evidence, headed for Iberia, Egypt, and the Middle East, where
they spread the new culture all around the Mediterranean sea. Recent archaeological
research has confirmed that the so called Ibero-maurusian culture (22,000
BC), was in fact purely Berber culture, and
that the name Ibero- was added by Aryanists for political reasons.
The skeletal remains of a population anthropologists named
were said to date between 15,000 and 10,000 BC. These settlements
were typically small, of about 100 individuals, mostly of women
and children! They posed the largest cranial capacity of any
population the world has ever seen; indicating, perhaps, their
relation to the earlier, large-brained Cro-Magnons. Dr Carleton
Coon has pointed out that the Mouillan features have never before
evolved in such combinations in any race at that time in human's
The Berber Garamantian Period
("Some years ago Diole
wrote: "The name of the Garamantes . . . does little
more, really, than designate our ignorance." C. Daniels.)
The breathtaking treasures of the Sahara's prehistoric
drawings and engravings are perhaps the best measure of the
level of civilisation attained by these peoples.
Sadly, this world heritage material is largely neglected
and still remains to this day scattered across
the Sahara desert as if it were historical garbage, and even intentionally desecrated
and looted. Today, mainly
the Tuareg confederacies remain the keepers of the great Sahara Desert. Wars
and famines in Africa still play their role in population flow; if not natures
way to fuel the engine of evolution. This ancient civilisation did not suddenly
appear from nowhere, but a continuation
of earlier continuations. The archaeological artifacts and stone tools discovered
in various sites from Fezzan were dated to the late Acheulean and the Aterian
cultures (circa 100,000 - 30,000 BC.). This area was also the home of the
Berber Garamantes Kingdom, considered to be Libya's first
indigenous empire. They initially run their kingdom from
the nearby capital Zinchecra (on
the hills of Messak Settafet),
then from Germa or Garama (today's
Jerma) in the first century AD, so named after their
eponymous ancestor Garamas ("the
first of men"),
who was, according to mythology, the son of the glorious
Sun, who offered
Mother Earth a sacrifice of the sweet acorn. The Garamantes
were placed by Pliny twelve days journey from the Augilae, and ten days
by Herodotus, in
the interior of Libya. They occupied the most habitable region of the Sahara:
the Wadis el-Agial and Sciati and the oases from Murzuk to Zuila.
Herodotus informs us that the Garamantes spread soil over salt to
sow their seeds, and hunt in four-horse chariots; while archaeological
discoveries indicate the Garamentian cities were thriving
urban centres, with markets and public entertainment forums. From
the archaeological remains of Germa, the city appears to have
had towers and a square market, used as a transit point for
caravans and for the horses the Garamentes then exported to Rome.
Some of Germa's
archaeological finds can be found in Germa
The Libyan Berber Goddess Tannit
There is no doubt that the Athena of Herodotus, whom the Amazon worshipped
around Lake Tritonis, was none other than the Libyan Goddess Tannit. Poets and
scholars of all ages knew Her as the Goddess Neith, whom the ancient Egyptians
adopted as Nit, long before the Phoenicians returned to venerate as Tanit.
The Libyan Goddess Tannit (Neith)
Alhamra Museum, Tripoli, Libya.
The following Arabic text, also displayed
under the stone, describes the above symbol of Tannit .
Temehu.com's translation of the Arabic text at the Museum:
"The Goddess Tannit. Tannit is regarded as one of the most famous
and important Punic goddesses in Tripolitania. She is the wife of the Punic god
Bal Hamon. She was the goddess of sowing, harvest and fertility, and a sky goddess
essentially associated with the moon. Her symbol, known as the symbol of Tannit,
is a triangle representing the human body, surmounted by a circle representing
the head, and separated by a horizontal line which represents the hands. The
worship of the goddess Tannit emerged after the 5th century BC. She appears to
be of Libyan origin. This piece is from the 2nd century BC.
[End of translation.]
The Libyan Berber Amazons:
According to several historical records, the Libyan birthplace of the Goddess
Neith, whom the Greeks adopted as Athena, as has been pointed out by Plutarch,
Diodorus and Herodotus, was also the traditional homeland of the warrior women
known as the Libyan Amazons, in the western parts of Libya - particularly around
the legendary Lake Tritonis. The world of the Amazons was ruled by warrior women,
in which they followed a manner of life unlike that which prevailed among other
races of the time. There were a number of fake tales about removing one of their
breasts in order to be able to shoot better (using arrow & bow), without
presenting any evidence; leading to careful mythographers to suggest that these
were no more than mere patriarchal allegations to discredit matriarchy; and hence
the whole existence of the Amazons itself was dismissed as "myth".
According to Robert Graves, Diodorus Siculus' legend regarding the Libyan Atlantians,
from whom Libyan Amazons seized their city Cerne, cannot be archeologically dated,
but he makes it precede a Libyan invasion of the Aegean Islands and Thrace. See
Libyan Mythology for more.
The Berbers of The Ancient Egyptian Period: 3300 BC to 750 BC
Egyptian records inform us that many parts of Libya and Egypt
itself were inhabited by various Libyan
tribes, the most prominent of which were the Temehu,
the Tehenu, the Ribu, and the Meshwesh.
From the extent of the Temehu's territories, it is evident that
they comprised a number of tribes, occupying much
of the Sudan and possibly all the way to Fezzan. Several historians have pointed
out that the Temehu and the Tehenu were the ancestors of the
present day Tuareg. When Greek and Roman historians arrived in
Libya and Egypt, the name Ribu became Libu, whence
present day “Libya”, and the name Meshwesh became Masuch (Herodotus), Maschouacha (Chabas), Maksiz (Ptolemy)
and Mazic (Latin
inscriptions), whence present day Tamazight,
and thus Imazighen -- the generic name
used to describe the indigenous inhabitants of North Africa as
a whole. The ancient Egyptians and the Berbers are strongly related
tribes and share one common origin. Both languages: Ancient Egyptian
(not to be confused with current Arabic Egyptian)
and Berber ('Tamazight') are sister languages belonging to the
same linguistic branch of the Afro-Asiatic linguistic family.
The cultural traits of the ancient Egyptians and the Libyan Berbers
and their mythologies and religions are also closely related,
if not the same. Inscriptions from
the Old Kingdom are perhaps the earliest recorded
information we have about the Berbers of Libya (excluding the
recorded pre-history of rock art). Before
King Menes forcibly unified Egypt and invaded Lower Egypt, the
Delta was primarily inhabited by Libyan Berbers who worshipped
the Goddess Tannit, the Cat-goddess Bast and the Sun-god
Amon. The Palermo
stone further illustrates the antiquity
of Libyans in Lower Egypt by listing a succession of Libyan pre-Dynastic
kings and queens from Lower Egypt. The Libyans however regained
control over Egypt about (ca. 945 BC), by establishing the Libyan Dynasties
on the hands of the Libyan King Shishenq or Shishonk.
The Arrival of the Phoenicians: 1000 BC To 200 BC
originally descended from North Africa as attested by linguistic
evidence, where Proto-Semitic itself diverged from Proto-Berbero-Libyan
(Diakonoff, 1975, 1981) about 7000 years ago. According to the
legend of Dido,
which some sources say was a Roman invention to discredit Carthage:
its main rival, the Berber king Iarbas granted Dido as
much land as could be covered by an ox-hide; on which they settled
among the native Berbers and quickly adopted Berber gods and
traditions, like the Libyan Goddess Tannit whom they loved as
Tanit, and the Libyan Amon whom they worshipped as Bal-Amon,
in the same way the Greeks, later on, made him Zeus-Amon. Unlike the later arrivals,
the Phoenicians were said to have signed treaties of
cooperation with the native Berbers. When the Persians
invaded Egypt and sent their ambassadors
to Libya asking the Berbers to help the Persians take over Carthage,
the Libyans replied saying that they will not take up arms against
their brothers, and thus succeeded in saving Libya from yet another
catastrophic war. The Phoenicians settled in a number of
cities including Leptis Magna,
Oea (Tripoli), Sabratha, and Carthage (Qert Hadasht 'The New Village'),
which was founded in 814 BC. By 517 BC, this
Berber-Phoenician empire was gaining influence all around the
Mediterranean; eventually bringing terror and fear to
the Romans' hearts. Seeing danger besieging Rome for nearly 12
years, the Romans diverted the war to Carthage, where the Carthaginian government
recalled Hannibal from Rome to defend the capital, only to loose control of
the whole campaign. .
The Greek Invasions
The Greeks established 5 colonies in Cyrenaica, around the
seventh century BC, which became known as the Pentapolis:
the Five Cities of Cyrene, Apollonia, Ptolemais,
Taucheira and Berenice (Benghazi). Evidence indicates that some
of these settlements had indeed existed before the Greeks' arrival. The
Pentapolis enjoyed a significant degree of autonomy, and Greek influence was
limited to the coastal regions. The Berber areas, further south, remained free
from Greek rule. Apparently, the city of Cyrene was
founded (invaded) upon the oracular advise of Apollo at Delphi, by the Greeks
of Thera (modern Santorini), and thus their arrival
was portrayed as a divine mission, rather than a military conquest.
The fertile Green Mountain (Jebel al-Akhdar) supplied Greece with livestock,
grain, wine and the unique Cyrenaican plant silphium. The level of civilisation
attained by Cyrene was so high that it quickly became one of the most cultural,
philosophical and academic cities in North Africa and produced some of the finest
scholars of the time. The popular philosophy of Cyrene was that of moral cheerfulness
and happiness. Shortly after the death of Alexander the Great in
323 BC, only eight years after his armies arrived in Cyrenaica,
his empire was divided among his Macedonian generals and thus
Cyrene and Egypt went to Ptolemy. Just over two hundred years
later, the Greek influence began to dwindle and the last Greek
ruler, Ptolemy Apion, finally surrendered Cyrenaica to Rome.
The Roman Invasions
When the Roman arrived in North-West Africa, there were a
number of Berber Kingdoms in existence, the most influential
of which was Numidia or Numidae. According to Herodotus,
the Libyans comprised two major groups: the agricultural
population of the coastal regions, and the shepherds or the
Nomads, of which Numidae is the Latin form. The
Numidae of the Second Punic War were essentially the Berber tribes
of the Masaesyli and the Massyli, the subjects
of the Berber kings Syphax and Masinissa respectively.
The Numidian kingdom of Masinissa eventually included all of
Tripolitania. When Hannibal invaded Italy, in his adventure
across the Alps (shattering big rocks in the way by heating them with fire
and pouring wine along the cracks), he reached Rome and laid siege
to the capital city for nearly 12 years.
During these years the Roman
emperor with his generals and slaves were held prisoners in their own capital.
Here, most historians agree that Hannibal had committed his greatest mistake:
not attacking Rome whilst he laid siege. Apparently
historians also say that Hannibal's morality had prevented him from attacking
Roman women and children in their own homes, and instead he hopped the men will
come out and give him a decent fight.
Instead of seemingly
fighting to death and loosing Rome, their treachery inspired them to plot behind
the besieged city walls, to divert the war to North Africa and take the fight
back to Carthage. When Carthage was attacked by the Romans, the Carthaginian
government fell in the trap, just others still do today; and immediately recalled
Hannibal from Rome. Hearing the order to return to Carthage, Hannibal knew exactly
what the Romans had in mind, but he had to fulfil
his "national duty" - against the advice of his most closest
generals - and returned to defend his homeland.
Hannibal (247-183 BC):
219 : Siege of Saguntum
218 : Capture of Saguntum ,Declaration of War.
218 : Hannibal sets out from New Carthage.
218 : Hannibal crosses the Alps, Battle of R. Ticinus.
218 : Battle of R. Trebia.
218 : Hannibal crosses the Apennines, Roman successes.
217 : Elections in Rome,Hannibal crosses R. Arno.
217 : Battle of Lake Trasimene.
217 : Hannibal's escape from Campania, Hannibal at Gereonium.
217: Minucius's successes against Hannibal.
216 : Elections in Rome, Hannibal at Capua.
216 : Carthage receives news of Canna.
216 : Hannibal repulsed at Nola, Siege of Casilinum.
216 :Roman army destroyed by Boii.
216 : Hasdrubal stopped from leaving Spain.
215 : Elections in Rome, Alliance between Carthage and Macedon.
215 : Capture of Carthaginian generals in Sardinia.
214 : Conspiracy in Syracuse, Marcellus in Sicily.
214 : Massacre at Henna.
213 : Roman overtures to king Syphax
212 : Hannibal enters Tarentum, Carthaginians take Thurii.
212 : Tiberius Gracchus eliminated.
212 : Plague at Syracuse, death of Archimedes.
212 : Death of the Scipios.
212 : Lucius Marcius rallies Roman remnant in Spain.
212 : Marcellus victorious at Agrigentum.
211 : Hannibal marches to relieve Capua, Battle of R. Volturnus.
211 : Hannibal's march on Rome, Battle of R. Anio.
211 : Hasdrubal's escape from Nero in Spain.
210 : Alliance between Rome, Aetolian League, and Pergamum.
210 : Fire in Rome, Hannibal destroys Herdonea.
210 : Envoys from Syphax in Rome, raid on African coast.
208 : Raid on African coast, Plilip V intervenes in Greece.
207 : Hasdrubal crosses the Alps, Hasdrubal besieges Placentia.
207 : Hannibal routed at Grurnentum.
207 : Hasdrubal's letter to his brother Hannibal intercepted.
207 : Death of Hasdrubal (Hannibal's brother).
207 : Successful raid on Utica.
206 : Livy's tribute to Hannibal, Masinissa joins the Romans.
206 : Scipio and Hasdrubal meet Syphax, Slaughter at Astapa .
206 : Meeting between Scipio and Masinissa, surrender of Gades.
205 : Elections in Rome, Fabius's attack on Scipio in Senate.
205 : Laelius raids African coast .
204 : General peace in Greece.
204 : Pact between Carthage and Syphax.
204 : Scipio crosses to Africa, Masinissa comes to join Scipio.
204 : Hannibal defeated near Croton.
203 : Burning of Carthaginian camp at Utica.
203 : Syphax defeated at Great Plains.
203 : Naval battle off Carthage, final defeat and capture of
203 : Masinissa enters Cirta and meets Sophonisba.
203 : Sophonisba's death.
203 : Carthaginian envoys ask for peace, Rome rejoices over African
203 : Mago and Hannibal recalled from Italy.
203 : Hannibal leaves Italy, Hannibal lands at Leptis.
202 : Hannibal marches to Zama, meeting with Scipio.
202 : Battle of Zama : Rome wins.
195 : Hannibal's reforms in Carthage, Hannibal's flight
193 : Hannibal's agent Aristo in Carthage.
191 : Hannibal's advice to Antiochus.
189 : Battle of Magnesia, senate ratifies peace with Antiochus
187 : Prosecution of Scipio Africanus and his death.
183 : Death of Hannibal: betrayed by king Prusias,
poison, rather than surrender.
After the Punic Wars
with Rome, Carthage was
finally reduced to rubble and razed to the ground in 146 BC.
Hannibal was unharmed and left for Syria. From Syria he went
to Bithynia, in Asia, where its king Prusias eventually betrayed him to the Romans.
Hearing the news of the Roman army in their way to arrest him, he, like Cleopatra,
took poison in 183.
With Hannibal and Carthage out of the way, Rome was ready
to spread terror around the Mediterranean world and across Europe and the Middle
East. The result was total cultural devastation across Europe where linguists
had concluded that 90% of Europe's indigenous languages had gone extinct as a
direct result of the Roman invasions - and hence subsequently the spread of
Latin across Europe. Many of the other languages around the Mediterranean and
the Middle East, including Ancient Egyptian, had also disappeared except Africa's
Berber and Europe's Basque's Euskara - both of which are among the oldest languages
in the world, both of which are related, and both of which appear destined to
live to the end of the world.
Shortly after the Carthaginian-Roman battle at Zama,
the Berber kingdoms began to suffer the impact of the Roman invasions, and by
46 BC, Julius Caesar deposed the final Numidian king, Juba I; and thereafter
Tripolitania was incorporated into the province of Africa
Proconsularis, to begin the export of goods, animals and
slaves to Rome.
Once the coastal regions were under Roman control, the
Roman generals wanted to do what no invader of Libya had done before:
to conquer the Sahara. After their initial expeditions
into the Garamantian empire, in 20–19 BC, and
later on in 69–70 AD, the Romans signed a trade and military
treaty with the Garamantian chiefs, and the two became trading partners, as
evidenced by the pottery
shreds and other artifacts unearthed in Fezzan. By the end of
the first century AD Rome had completed the pacification of Sirtica
(the region now know as the Gulf of Sirte), and Cyrenaica was
handed over to them by the Greeks. Had Carthage survived, and left alone since,
the Berbers would have probably landed on Jupiter long before Galileo saw
The Arab Invasions
Generally speaking there are two kinds of history: the popular history
written by the invaders, and the suppressed history preserved by the natives.
For example, most Arab historians in writing Libya's history fail
to mention the Berbers and instead use the
phrase "ancient Libyans" or, like Gaddafi had said, "the
original Arabs". For example, here is what Mr. Mustafa
write history on the basis of Libya being part of the Arab world” (History
of Libya, p. 95). Even after the so-called February
Revolution, which many Berberists came to see as yet another foreign
hapless operation, the situation has not changed - the same history is being
propagated, replacing one tyranny with another.
Contrary to popular belief the Berbers' resistance to the Arab invasions
was long and fierce. Like
the Arab war generals themselves had said (in their wars against the Berber
priestess-queen Kahina): whenever a Berber tribe is slaughtered, another
emerged from the mirage like the jinn of the desert.
In short, after nearly
three centuries (on and off) of bloody wars with the invading Arabs the Berbers
succeeded in maintaining some form of independence from the sultans of the
Middle East; leading to the Berber dynasties to remain very powerful down to
the 16th century; after which they began to decline.
Combined with the invasions
Turkish pashas, and subsequently the disastrous European invasions, the
official Arabisation of the various Berber confederacies began
to take visible shape. It was reported that Europeans first arrived as explorers,
mapping the tribes and the rich-resources of the continent, then as colonisers, dividing
Africa by imposing the political borders now we know as 'Arab countries' in
total disregard for the ethnic integrity of the local tribes
they came to subjugate. [See
Libyan People for more on this.]
In 642 AD, U'mr ibn
al-A's, under the command of the Caliph U'mr I, arrived in Cyrenaica,
where he established his base at Barqa, and then a few years
later he moved on towards Tripolitania, where he removed the
remaining Byzantine garrisons and took control of Tripoli.
U'mr, the Caliph sent general Uqba bin Nafi, who moved
towards Fezzan in 663 and took Germa, before he claimed
the province of Africa in 670 AD, where he established another military
base at Kairouan (al Qayrawan), in preparation to attack Byzantine-controlled
Carthage, which they
finally took in 693 AD.
It was reported that the orders were
given to raze Carthage to the ground, once more, after having been already ransacked
by the Romans not long ago. Similar orders were also given by the Arabs in relation
to Sabratha, the capital of the Berber Nafusa tribes of Nafusa Mountain. Shortly
afterwards, the Muslims arrived in Morocco, before they crossed to Spain,
under the command of the Berber general Tariq Bin Zayyad.
By the seventh century,
a power struggle ensued between the supporters of rival claimants to the caliphate,
thereby creating two sects: the Sunni and the Shia. About 200 years later, Shia
missionaries of the Ismaili sect succeeded in converting the Kutama of Kabylia
and set them against the Sunni Aghlabids, where they took Kairouan
in the following year.
Soon afterwards the wars broke out, once
again, between the Fatimid of North Africa and Baghdad; eventually
leading the Fatimid caliph to invite Bani Hilal and Bani Salim bedouin tribes
from the Arabian peninsula. It is these two tribes that signaled the arrival
of Arab tribes in North Africa.
Timeline of Historical Events In Libya & North Africa
general Amr ibn al-Ās took Egypt, followed by Barqah in 641 AD.
Amr ibn al-Ās moved on towards Tripolitania, where he removed the
remaining Byzantine garrisons and took control of Tripoli in 647 AD. Sends
Uqba ibn Nafi (O'qba ibn Nafea') toward Zwilah.
Uqba ibn Nafi moves
towards Fezzan and takes Germa.
Foundation of Kairouan (Qairawan). Uqba ibn Nafi (Oqba
Ben Nafea') claims
the Roman province of Africa in 670 AD and establishes his military base at Qayrawan;
where he built the Great Mosque of Kairouan, the oldest mosque in Africa, widely
regarded as the fourth holiest place, after Mecca, Medina and Alqudus (Jerusalem).
Kusila kills Uqba ibn Nafi and rules the country from Kairouan as a
Kahina Dihya fought her final wars: in 693 she defeated
Hassan Ben Nua'man, who then retreated to Tripoli, waited for reinforcements,
and a few years later re-grouped. As she had predicted she dies fighting in 698.
Creation of the Province of Afriqya; the Maghreb (North Africa)
was incorporated into the Islamic empire.
Islamic influence spreads
to various parts of North Africa, as far as the Sanhaja Berbers
south of Mauritania; forcing the Sanhaja to start their trans-Saharan journeys
from Wadi Draa to reach Senegal by means of camels, and thus were considered
to be the first to make full use of the "ship
of the desert".
The Berber general
Tariq Ben Zeyyad (Tariq Ibn Ziyad) conquers the Kingdom of Spain
with a Berber army and advisors. Tariq's commander, Musa ibn Nusair, followed
with substantial reinforcements.
The Arabs' defeat at
followed by Arab rebellions in Morocco.
Islamic Umayyads at
Damascus overthrown by Abbasids.
Arrival of Umayyad
A'bd al-Rahman in Spain; Umayyad dynasty founded in Andalus.
control of Afriqya.
Fes founded by
ldris; ldrisid dynasty established in Morocco. Death of
A'bd al-Rahman I; successor son Hisham 1 (Andalus). Death d
Hisham I; successor son Hakam I. Series of rebellions in cities
al-Aghlab founds Aghlabid dynasty in Afriqya. Besides the
Sanhaja's trans-Saharan trade routes, two more
routes emerged around this time: one from Algeria to middle Niger,
and the other from Tripolitania to Lake Chad.
The Berbers of the
Sahara and Sanhaja and the Nilo-Saharans founded the
Kingdom of Kanim (east of Lake Chad ), the Kingdom of Songhay
(central Niger), and the Kingdom of Mali.
fighters from Spanish Cordova to Fes in Morocco, Afriqiya
and Egypt. A series of rebellions in cities in Afriqya. Death
of Hakam I; successor son A'bd al-
Rahman II (Andalus). People emigrate from Kairouan to Fes.
Invasion of Sicily
from Afriqya; continues for 100 years.
A'bd al-Rahman II; succeeded by his son Muhammad I.
(Ibn Tulun ) in Egypt. Death of Muhammad I; successor
son al-Mundhir (Andalus). Death of al-Mundhir.
The Muslims now have
independent hereditary rulers: Aghlabids in Tunisia, and Tulunids
in Egypt. The Idrisids of Morocco and the Umayyads of Spain
did not recognise the authority of Baghdad Caliphs.
In 902 AD a Shia revolt broke out in eastern
Algeria. In 909 al-Mahdi founds Fatimid dynasty
of caliphs (Afriqya). By 912 the Mahdi (the head
of the Fatimid line) founded the city of Mahdiya
from which he ruled Tunisia and Algeria.
Umayyads gradually recover power (Andalus).
War in northern Morocco between Umayyads and
Fatimid and their Berber allies (the war continued for more
than 70 years).
Abd ar-Rahman III takes title of caliph
Death of Abd al-Rahman III; successor
son Hakam II (Andalus).
The Fatimid invaded Egypt and ruled Palestine and parts of
Arabia. They left Tripolitania, Tunisia and Algeria to the
Zirids (a Sanhaja Berber family who assisted the Fatimid). The
Fatimid organised the arrival of Benu Hilal and Benu Salim
Arab tribes from Arabia into Egypt and Libya.
The Fatimid caliph moves to Cairo, leaving
Zirids in charge of Afriqya.
Death of Hakani II; successor infant son
Morocco broke away
from the Fatimid's rule.
Ibn Abi A'mir
AI-Mansur (Almanzor) becomes regent for the Umayyads war on
Christians of northern Spain. Al-Manzor died in 1002.
Overthrow of Al-Manzor's son (Andalus).
Sack of Cordova.
The Zirids of Algeria broke away from the Fatimid
The Zanata Berbers took Tripoli; Arabs seized
Barqa; the massacre of Ismaili officials.
End of Umayyad dynasty. Period of Little Kings,
rulers of city states led by Seville (Andalus).
lbn Yasin forms Almoravids (al-Murabit'un - the
men of the monastery) in the Sahara, and begins his holy
Zirid Mu'izz repudiates Fatimid (Afriqya).
Tripolitania and Tunisia broke away from the
By now Almoravids had conquered the western
Sahara (Sanhaja Berbers), and seized Sijilmasa in 1054, and
Awdaghust in 1055.
Mu'izz defeated by the tribes of Banu
Death of Ibn Yasin; successor Abu Bakr
(Morocco); Mu'izz abandons Kairouan for Mahdia
Almoravid armies conquered Morocco and western Algeria
Abu Bakr founds Marrakesh, installs Yusuf ibn
Tashfin (Morocco); Almoravids under Yusuf ibn Tashfin
Afriqya divided into city states and
tribal territories (Afriqya).
Almoravid conquered Songhay and Ghana.
Capture of Toledo
by Castile; Muslims appeal to Almoravid Yusuf ibn
Yusuf ibn Tashfin
conquers Andalus and exiles Little Kings to Morocco.
El Cid takes
Valencia (Andalus); El Cid besieged in Valencia; Yusuf ibn
Tashfin takes the title (Commander of the Muslims); and
Andalus and Morocco became united.
Bani Hilal take
control of eastern Algeria and Tunisia, the Zirid princes still
holding out in Bougie and Mahdiya. On the other side, Banu
Salim are taking control of Libya (only Cyrenaica
Death of Yusuf ibn
Tashfin, successor son Ali (Morocco).
Ibn Tumart forms Almohads in High Atlas
(Morocco); Almohads is a political and religious
movement of the Zenata Berbers of the Atlas; Death of Ibn Tumart in
1130, succeeded by his caliph Abd al-Mu'min.
Djerba invaded and taken by Normans
of Sicily (Afriqya); Abd al-Mu'min begins his campaign against
Almoravids; Death of A'li ibn Yusuf ibn Tashfin, successor
Almohads defeated Almoravids
and took Morocco and Spain; death of Tashfin ibn Ali ibn
Yusuf ibn Tashfin; Norman conquest of Tripoli; Almohads capture
Seville; flight of Almoravid lbn Ghaniya to Majorca; Andalus
Moroccan Marrakesh captured by Almohads; Almohad Abd
al-Mu'min annexes Central Maghreb; Almohads conquer
Afriqya, drive Normans from coastal cities in Afriqya;
Death of Abd al-Mu'min, successor son Abu Ya'qub
Kurdish Saladin (Salah'-Addin )
transformed Egypt into a military power and used it to wage his
wars against the Crusaders to recapture Palastine after he took over
from the last Fatimid ruler and founded the Ayyubid Dynasty in
Murcia taken by Almohad Abu Ya'qub; Andalus,
Morocco and Afriqiya united in Almohad Empire - capitals Seville
Death of Almohad Abu Ya'qub, successor son
Abu Yusuf; Beginning of doctrinal war between Almohad
caliph and Almohad Shaykhs.
Almohads defeat Castile at Alarcos; Invasion of
Afriqya by Almoravids from Majorca; Death of Almohad
Abu Yusuf, successor son al-Nasir.
Almohads (Berbers of Zenata) conquer Majorca
from Almoravids; Defeat of Almoravids by Almohad al-Nasir;
Abu Muharnmad al-Hafsi made viceroy at Tunis.
Defeat of Almohads
by the Christians at Las Navas de Tolosa; Death of Almohad
al-Nasir, successor son al-Mustansir.
Murder of caliph
al-Adil; his brother al-Ma'mun repudiates Almohad doctrin;
Al-Ma'mun invades Morocco, massacres Almohad Shaykhs, and takes
power at Marrakesh; Break-up of Almohad empire: Andalus, Morocco
and Afriqya gave up their unity.
lbn Hud takes
power in Andalus; Yaghmurasin takes power at Tlemcen; Abu
Zakariya al-Hafsi assumes leadership of Almohads, and founds
Hafsid dynasty at Tunis in 1236 AD. In Mali the prince Sundiata
re-established Mali's independence, and took Songhay,
Tadmekka, Walata and Ghana.
The foundation of
Ziyanid Dynasty in Algeria; the Berber Marinids
replaced the Almohads in Morocco.
Marinid dynasty established at Fes.
Almohad were replaced by another Berber tribe
from the Zenata of Atlas - Ind Marin, who formed the Marinids
Dynasty in Morocco.
Turkish Mamluk in Egypt.
St Louis, King of France, attacks Tunis.
Marinid Abu Yusuf (Zeneta Berber) invades
New Fes begun in Morocco.
Tlemcen by Marinid ruler Abu Ya'qub (Morocco).
medieval, Berber traveller Ibn Battuta was born in Tangier in
Morocco. In 1325 he set out on his journey across North Africa
to Mecca. From there he visited most of the countries of the
Near East (although some say never went that far). In
1331 he travelled down the east coast of Africa to Mogadishu and Mombassa. Then
he returned to Morocco in 1349. He travelled to Spain in 1350, and then went
back south to the Western Sahara and Mali. Some of the things he said were doubted
by historians. One of the observations he made was that slaves commanded higher
prices than gold; when he went home, he was part of a caravan
carrying 600 female slaves from Takedda in Mali. He returned
to Morocco in 1353, and began writing his stories.
Kingdom of Abyssinia was revived by a new line of kings, the
Solomonids, who claimed descent from King Solomon. They
halted the Muslims' advance into the highlands and conquered the
pagans' territories south of the Blue Nile.
Marinid Abu Al-Hasan (Morocco); Marinids take Tlemcen;
Christians defeat Marinids in Spain (Andalus); Fall of Algeciras,
expulsion of Marinids; Marinid Abu I-Hasan conquers Afriqya;
Rebellion of Abu I-Hasan's son Abu'nan (Morocco); Death of
Abu I-Hasan, succeeded by Abu Inan.
Marinid Abu Inan
reconquers Afriqya; Death of Abu lnan; Marinid power
weakened; Ziyanids recover Tlemcen (Morocco).
Reign of Nasrid
Muhammad al-Ghani at Granada (Andalus); Hafsids recover Afriqya
control of Songhay Kingdom.
Prince Henry conquered the Canary Islands.
genocide of the Berber Guanche people of the Canary Islands:
Ceuta (Morocco), Portugal's first venture; A Chinese fleet
visited East Africa (first large ships started to appear in China
and Portugal); The Portuguese discover Madeira Island and the
Azores in 1431, and by 1460 they reached Sierra Leone.
Wars of the Roses
begin (UK); Portuguese take Alcazarquivir [Al-Qaser-Quivir],
Tangier, Larache and Azemmour.
The King Ali
ascended the throne of Songhay, conquered Timbuctoo (an important
point in the lucrative gold and slave trafficking) in
1469, and Jenne in 1473.
In Morocco the
Marinids were replaced by the Wattasids.
conquered Gran Canaria;
Christian monarchs conquer Granada (Andalus).
Columbus made Gomera (Canary Islands) his last place of call
when he sailed to re-discover the Americas.
The French and the
Ottomans signed a treaty: the French became the ranking
foreign community in Tunis.
appointed by Turkish Sultan; The Mamluks replaced by the
Ottomans; The Ottomans occupied Tripolitania, Algeria in
1555, and Tunisia in 1574; In 1551 the Muslims took Tripoli
The Spanish invaded Tunis in 1573.
Almansur: the Portuguese sent the biggest army
they had ever sent overseas to land in Morocco - around 30,000
men. The King of Portugal himself was in command of the army and met the local
king in the battle of the three kings. Three kings died: King
of Portugal, his Sultan, and the Moroccan king, who was ill and
died in the 'process'. It is also known as the battle of the
Big Castle (Al-Qaser Al-Kabir). Most of the Portuguese army was
finished or captured and, later, Portugal fell to Spain. The Moroccan
prince succeeded to the throne and took the title Almansur (the
Victorious). In 1590, The prince
Almansur took the Kingdom of Songhay into his empire, and gold
In 1603, Ahmad Almansur, the king of Morocco,
made a proposal to his English ally Queen Elizabeth I. Had
Elizabeth accepted, the plan would have completely changed the
history of the modern world. The Moors needed the help of the
English to colonise America by attacking the Spanish colonies,
and keep it under joint dominion (ref: Turks, Moors & Englishmen
In The Age of Discovery, by Nabil Matar, Columbia).
Algerian pirates apprehended (stopped) by the British.
Gibraltar contemplated by the English; Main Spanish fleet
destroyed at Tenerife (Canary Islands) by the English.
The authorities in
Tripoli, Tunis and Algiers enjoyed a state of near independence.
Ahmed Karamanli captures Tripoli.
Tripolitania establishes complete independence
from the Ottomans.
The slave trade
reaching its peak: 100,000 Africans are kidnapped and sold a
year. By 1800 AD about five million Africans were sold to the
West. The population of black Africa increased sharply to about
60 million as opposed to 10 million living north of the Sahara.
The French Revolution; starts by Napoleon's invasion of Egypt (1798);
the battle of the Pyramids with the Mamluks; Defeated Napoleon returned home
a year later.
Mohammed Ali (1801-1848); In 1811 he invited the Mumluk
leadership to a banquet in Cairo and massacred the lot;
In 1818 he controlled Arabia, and in 1820 took Nubia.
outlawed the slave trade; The British established military
presence in few cities along the east coast of Africa (for returned
or confiscated slaves and refugees), which later
became modern day Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia. This is the
day when organised politics began to take over and shape the future of
Africa and the world at large.
The prices of
slaves in Tripoli (given by Graberg, Swedish consul in 1822):
- a black eunuch: 650 Spanish piastres
- adult male; 100 Spanish piastres
- youth; 70 to 80 Spanish piastres
- boy under ten: 50 Spanish piastres
- woman: 120 to 150 Spanish piastres
- girl: 100 Spanish piastres
- girl under ten: 50 to 60 Spanish piastres
- a male African slave in Cairo was worth on average 2000 nisf-s in 1700 AD, 16000 in 1800 AD, and 40000 in 1850 AD.
- "Among the more expensive were Abyssinian
girls and, most expensive of all, were the eunuchs who were used by
wealthier families to guard female abodes.(Magali Morsy, p. 63)."
Fezzan and gained control over the Tripoli-Bornu route.
re-establish control over Tripoli.
The Libyan population, in contrast to the explosion
taking place in Egypt, was decreasing, down
from 757,000 people in 1840s to 523,176 people in 1911; perhaps
excluding the Berber
Tuareg of the Sahara. The population of Egypt was nearly 5 million people by
is the same as that of Morocco at the time. But by 1920, the Egyptians
grew to 14 million while the Moroccans only increased by one
and a half million (from 4 to 5.487 million).
Tunisia also remained around 2 million right
from 1800 to 1940, but it grew to 5 million by 1971. In
Algeria the population was around 4 million in 1800 AD, and
remained so until 1936 when it increased to 6.2 million.
In 1966 the population of Egypt more than doubled (30,075,858 ),
Libyans were still less than 2 millions in 1968.
The Invasion of The Spaniards & The Turks
After a short lull in Libya's history, it was the turn of
the Spaniards and the Turks to share the spoils of the Great White
Sea. During the 14th and 15th centuries the Spaniards were wreaking
havoc across the waters of the Mediterranean. The genocide of
the natives of the Canary Islands was completed in around one
century, and the survivors were sold as first-class slaves in Europe.
And soon afterwards, they destroyed Tripoli in 1510 AD
and built a fortified naval base from the rubble.
the 16th century, Spain and the Ottoman Turks were fighting over
the control of the Mediterranean, just as the Phoenicians
and the Romans did before. Chaos was the king and piracy became
an established business on both side of the Great White Sea. By 1551 AD the knights
were driven out of Tripoli by
Turkish pirates, and by 1580 AD the chiefs of Fezzan finally
allied with the Turks.
By the early 18th century, the Karamanli
dynasty rose to fame, mainly in trafficking slaves and piracy,
activities which eventually invited European powers to take
control of Africa. Some European governments began sending a
series of expeditions to all parts of Africa, collecting maps and information
about the hidden continent and "its tribes". The
British were the first to campaign for ending slavery; and instead built a global
The spread of the Ottoman Empire saw Libya come under a state
of disarray and chaos, where corruption and cruelty were the
main characteristics of the period. In September 1911 Italy
accused Turkey of arming tribesmen in Libya and soon afterwards declared
war and captured Tripoli in October the 3rd, before it occupied
Cyrenaica's Tobruk and Benghazi.
Nesmenser Zuwarah Libya ©
2008; updated: 2011, 2012, 2013.