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History of Libya


Libya has a long history.
The name Libya comes from the old Egyptian word Lebu. The name refers to Berber tribes coming from the West of Libya then all Libyan territory.

Three big landscapes are joined in the Present state of Libya; in the northwest Tripolitania, in the Northeast Cyrenaica and the south Fezzan which developed in another way in their historical past and supported provisionally of more intensive contacts with the Regions which belong to the neighbouring countries of Libya than between themselves.

For many centuries, Tripolitania has been dominated by Carthage in nowadays Tunisia. Whereas Cyrenaica has for a long time been oriented towards the Nile region (Egypt) and the Greek Island.

Map of Tripoli

This difference of orientation resulted from colonization in the ancient history. As the historian Herodotus had specified: the Phoenicians and the Greeks had come from abroad. The Phoenicians from Tyros and from Sidon had founded from 700 before JC. on the West of actual Libya, Three main commercial centers and three main gateways Sabratha, OEA (later, Tripoli) and Leptis Magna and named the region Tripolitania (Threis poleis= three cities). Leptis Magan is worldwide known as the largest city of ancient history. For this reason, the city has been declared by UNESCO as part of the World Heritage.

Old sketch of the city of Tripoli, the fortress and the harbour

The way Leptis Magna

Meanwhile, the territory named Cyrenaica was at the same time populated by Greek immigrants from Thera/ Santorin
Both colonialist groups had come from the east of the country and have forced the local population to escape in the south of the country.

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631 before JC. Battiades founded the city of Cyrene 567 before JC. The city of Barce (Barka) in Cyrenaica was founded.
The Greek Herodotus described in 500 before JC. the people of Garamantes sedentary in the region Fezzan.
At the 20th century, the discovery of the cave paintings in the west of Fezzan confirms it.

512 before JC. Persians invaded Cyrenaica.
Cyrenaica came under the dominance of the Persian Empire Achemenide under the rule of King Cambyse. The Acheminide Empire reached nowadays Benghazi and named the region Putaya.
The city of Barce (Barka) was destroyed by the Persians. 332 before JC. The Macedonian Alexander the Great conquered Cyrenaica. 321 before JC. Ptolemy annexed Cyrenaica
After the death of Alexander the Great, Cyrenaica and Egypt were annexed by Ptolemy the First who selected Alexandria (Rhakotis) as capital. Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great. During the Ptolemic domination, these cities lost their economic importance.

201 before JC. with the end of the second war between Romans and Carthaginians, Tripolitania came under the rule of the Numidian Kingdom.
146 before JC. after the destruction of Carthage (nowadays Tunisia) by Romans assisted by Numidia (nowadays Algeria), Romans conquered Tripolitania and founded the province Africa. 96 before JC. Cyrenaica belonged to the Roman province Africa.
The Berber tribes in the South of the Desert (Fezzan) did not come under the rule of the Roman forces.
19 before JC. A Roman Criminal expedition against Fezzan. 15 before JC. The Roman expedition led to the conquest of some parts of Fezzan.
Another Roman Criminal expedition against Garamantes in Fezzan driven to the enlistment of certain parties of Fezzan and to the training of the Roman province Numidia and a party of the Province Phazania

Capital of Garamantes

17-24 after JC. Garamantes fighters launched an attack against Roman colonies in Fezzan.
88 after JC. Lulius Maternus led a Roman Criminal expedition against Fezzan. 114-116 after JC. The revolt of Jewry and other groups of population in Cyrenaica. 150-200 after JC. Christianization of the Roman provinces in North Africa. 251-266 after JC. Epidemics stretch in Tripolitania and Cyrenaica
It moreover was noted that it is the epidemic of plague of dent in Cyrenaica.

Excavations of Ptolemais (Tolmetha)

325 after JC. Cyrenaica was in principle a Christian territory. The city Ptolemais (Tolmetha) was archbishop and Cyrene was bishop. 365 after JC. An earthquake of magnitude 9 destroyed the city of Cyrene city and several villages of Cyrenaica.

After the death of the Emperor Flavius Theodosius the First, the Roman Empire was divided into an Occident and Orient.

395 after JC. During the division of the Roman Empire, Tripolitania remains in Latin Roman Occident: (Praefectus Praetorio Illyrici, Italia, and Africae) and Cyrenaica in Greco-Byzantine the Roman East: (Praefectus Praetorio by Orientim.

The Vandals

429 after JC. The Vandals of the Germanic people came from the south of Spain invaded the roman provinces including Tripolitania.
455-447 after JC. The Vandals invaded also some parts of Cyrenaica. 534 after JC. The domination of the Vandals in North Africa comes to an end with the conquest of the territory by the Byzantine emperor Justinian. Against the warlike tribes Berbers, the Christian Byzantines could be established on the Libyan ground of today only on one narrow coastal strip.
643 after JC. Cyrenaica and 647 after JC. Tripolitania was both conquered by the Arab Muslims.

The Emperor Justinian of the Eastern Roman Empire, died in 565 after JC.C

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670 after JC. The resistance of Berber was definitively broken and the country was Islamized.

Aghlabids Dynasty between 800 – 909 after JC.

800- 909 after JC. The Aghlabids brought their conquest to Ifriqiya and occupied all the Maghreb. The Propagation of Islam and the establishment of the Aghlabid dynasty.

The Fatimid Empire in its greatest extension

909 after JC. The Dynasty Fatimid 972 after JC. The Dynasty Zirid

1158 after JC. The Almohad Dynasty Almuwahhidun united the countries of the Maghreb and Muslim Andalusia
1230 after JC. The Hafsid Dynasty

1510 after JC. Tripoli conquered by the Spanish who colonized the country till 1530 after JC.

1551 after JC. Under the leadership of Dugout Pasha assisted by the Ottomans, the Spanish were forced to leave the country. The reign of Dugout Pasha and Ottoman sovereignty ended right with the Italian conquest.

1711 after JC. Ahmed Caramanli reached power in Tripoli. He put an end to the Ottoman rule the Dynasty of the Caramanlis ruled Tripoli till 1835 after JC. Ahmad Caramanli also earned the control of Cyrenaica and Fezzan. However, the piracy remained an important economic factor.
The destruction of the Fleet of pirates by the USA (1801-1805 after JC.) drives to the decline of Caramanli and on 1835 after JC. in the renewal of the Ottoman domination which is reflected in Fezzan and Cyrenaica.
1911 after JC. Tripolitania and Cyrenaica were occupied by Italian troops.

1939 after JC. Cyrenaica, Fezzan and Tripolitania have been united and formed the Libia-Italian province.
After the end of the Second World War, the Assembly of the Organization of United Nations decided on the independence of Libya and declared it as federal kingdom. Already in the course of the Second World War Cyrenaica and Tripolitania were in 1942 after JC. conquered by the British troops and Fezzan by the French troops.
1951 after JC. Libya got its independence.
It is only in 1951 after JC. only the Kingdom Libya became independent, he must nevertheless accept the presence of the American and British military bases during 20 years.

Idris Senussi was the King of Libya.

1969 after JC. Libya became a Republic with Muammar Al Gaddafi as its state leader.