The ruins of the ancient Greek city of Cyrene in Libyadeclared World Heritage in danger from UNESCOare at risk of sinking after the floods that devastated the east of the country, witnesses and archaeologists from the region warned.
It is a “gigantic site and the largest Greek colony, a city built between the end of the 7th century and beginnings of 6th century before our era,” he explained Vincent Michel, head of the archaeological mission french in Libya.
Its first inhabitants came from the ancient Theraon the current Greek island of Santoriniand they settled there because of its fertile lands and abundance of water.
According to Claudia Gazzini, specialist of Libya of the International Crisis Group who visited Cyrene In recent days, a large part of the site is still flooded and several landslides have occurred.
“There is a descending street, Sharaa el Wadi, bordered by ancient walls, which connects the upper part of the site with the lower part and through which rainwater circulates. But some stone blocks have fallen that block the flow of water,” he said. Gazzini from Benghazi.
“In the lower part of the complex there is also dirty water, which continually gushes out of the ground in the middle of the ruins,” he added.
The locals and a person in charge of the antiques department locals in the complex were unaware of the origin of the water, he explained.
Source Apolloa natural pool next to a cave that collected spring water, “has been transformed into a large bathtub in which someone had poured bubble soap,” laments Gazzini, who took photographs and videos of the place.
The ruins and the neighboring town of Shahat were exposed to “five hours of Torrential rains” on the night of September 10 to 11, said the specialist, concerned about the greek theaterwhere huge stone blocks fell from the stands.
The inhabitants of Shahatwho used to enjoy this complex next to a cliff that offers spectacular views of the Mediterraneanare worried about the arrival of the winter rains, as one of them confided to Gazzini in a video.
“If the water infiltrations continue and the water remains stagnant, the walls could collapse and take away a good part of the ruins”Gazzini assured.
“Torrents of stones”
Good knowledge of the place, Vincent Michel He assured after viewing the images of the floods that “at the moment no serious destruction in Cyrene, the monuments are still standing.”
But “the torrents of water, earth and stones have eroded the roads,” and “the water has circulated a lot and weakened the foundations of the monuments,” he added.
“Knowing that the stone is of poor quality in the region, the monuments are at risk of falling out of place due to lack of good foundations,” he added.
Cyrene is home to “one of the largest temples of Antiquity, that of Zeus, which is larger than the Parthenon in Athens,” said this expert contacted by telephone in France.
Also worrying is the immense necropolis located to the north of the site, on the other side of the walls, which “received hundreds of cubic meters of water, which displaced and filled tombs.”
Cyrene, “which had more than 10 kilometers in perimeter, is one of the few places with a city of the dead as large as that of the living,” says Michel.
The expert warned of the risk of looting at this exceptional site, where during the latest excavations “funerary portraits from the Roman era and statuettes of divinities were found.” greek unique.”
What reassures him is that the Antiquities department of Libya “is already very mobilized” and asked for help from the Italian archaeological mission for Cyrene and French teams for Apollonia, the ancient port of Cyrene, and Latrun, another ancient site.
(With information from AFP)