Libya is known for some beautiful and well-preserved Ancient Roman ruins. Before it belonged to Rome, the territory of modern-day Libya was part of the Carthaginian Empire. Do there exist any monumental or architectural ruins from the Carthaginian era that can be visited by tourists?

I'm aware that it's generally not considered safe to visit Libya at the moment. Consider this question to be long-term planning for a future visit once the political situation has stabilized. If any Carthaginian sites were open to tourists during the Gadaffi era, and are not known to have been destroyed since then, please tell me about them.


It is worth noting that according to UNESCO, there is only one known site containing the remains of a Carthaginian city: Kerkuane, in Tunisia.

This Phoenician city was probably abandoned during the First Punic War (c. 250 B.C.) and as a result was not rebuilt by the Romans. The remains constitute the only example of a Phoenicio-Punic city to have survived. The houses were built to a standard plan in accordance with a sophisticated notion of town planning.

There are many significant archeological sites in North Africa that had their beginnings as Phoenician settlements; Leptis Magna and Samartha were originally Phoenician trading colonies, and they (along with Carthage itself) are World Heritage sites as well. But most of them were later built over by the Romans, and their Punic heritage is no longer very evident.

It is possible that there are isolated Carthaginian ruins that survive in Libya; isolated Carthaginian sites do exist elsewhere (e.g., the Punic wall of Cartagena, in Spain.) However, if you're hoping to find something on the scale of the major Roman ruins that still exist throughout the Mediterranean, Kerkuane appears to be all there is.

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  • Could you provide a citation from UNESCO that says that there are no purely Carthaginian ruins in Libya? The page you linked to (and the part you quote) says only that Kerkuane is the sole surviving city. It's doesn't say that there are no ruins of other types (e.g., monuments, forts, isolated buildings, etc.). – Psychonaut Mar 19 '18 at 13:54
  • @Psychonaut: That's a fair point, and I've edited my answer to qualify my initial statement. – Michael Seifert Mar 19 '18 at 14:50

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