Expedition News – Spring 1960

Originally Published in 1960

View PDF

Leptis Magna

Mr. Brandon Barringer who, with the Museum, is sponsoring the exploration of this site in Libya has given us a progress report of the work which is under the supervision of Mrs. Edward C. Carter 2nd.

The main site is a peninsula, twenty feet above sea level, between the Mediterranean and the Wadi Lebda, east of the restored ruins of the great Roman city and west of the restored Roman port. This area, believed by all writers to be the site of the original Phoenician settlement from which the city grew, has never been dug. Excavation started March 29th and our last report covers the work week ending April 26th. Twenty workers have been split into three groups and four separate cuts have been made on the peninsula. One is from the Mediterranean shore, one was a sounding slightly inland, and two came in from the Wadi.

On the Mediterranean, the whole of a sixty-foot face was found to be covered by a massive crude stone wall without floors or doors, the foundation of some structure; a platform continues inland. Part of the filling was from a Phoenician dump and more from a Roman dump. A Punic lamp was found. The wall and a Byzantine graveyard were cut through and the trench was extended beyond it to the southwest on virgin soil some twelve feet below the existing land surface.

The inland sounding disclosed two large marble-faced reservoirs of a Roman bath complex at a depth of ten feet and had to be abandoned.

The first harbor trench continued for sixty-five feet along the top of the two-foot thick Severan pavement, five feet above the water level, with a Byzantine sheepfold and watering trough built of reused Roman columns and building stones on it. The end of this pavement has finally been reached and a sounding is being made at the end of this cut.

The second trench from the Wadi was on the lower, Neronian pavement. It encountered a Roman structure and sterile soil beyond it.

No Phoenician level having been found, though the dump material (Greek sherds) indicates the presence of one somewhere, a new sounding has been begun on the far side of the Wadi Lebda (the other side of the original harbor). Two other soundings through the Roman part of the city are also being made.


George Bass, Student Assistant in the Mediterranean Section, left for Turkey in April to take charge of the underwater exploration off the southwest coast of Turkey. In this region forty-seven ancient wrecks have been pin-pointed, ranging in date from the 15th century B.C. to the 9th century A.D. Some of these are described in the April number of National Geographic Magazine. The expedition hopes to investigate the earliest wreck, that of a ship carrying a cargo of bronze implements and ox-hide-shaped copper ingots, evidently in transit from the mines of Cyprus when the ship was sunk about 1450 B.C. A few of these copper ingots or “pigs” are known. Their weight is fairly uniform, and some bear stamped impressions; evidently they were the currency of their time. Expert divers, photographers, and underwater draftsmen will participate in what will be the first scientifically organized exploration of an ancient wreck.

Plans for El-Jib 1960

The fourth season of the Museum’s expedition to el-Jib in Jordan, the biblical Gibeon, will open on June 15th. The first objectives will be the further excavation of the winery which appeared during the closing weeks of the 1959 campaign and the continuation of work on the elaborate Roman tombs which were encountered at the very end of the season.

High priority will be given this season to determining the history of occupation at Gibeon. The major periods are known from excavations in the areas of the pool and the winery, but in these sections the exact sequence of settlement has been disturbed by cleanings and reuse. It is hoped that there can be found a part of the ancient city which is undisturbed from the earliest (about 2800 B.C.) down to the late Roman times. Such a record within the mound itself can serve to throw considerable light upon the more than forty biblical references to Gibeon, with which el-Jib has now been firmly identified.

The staff for the 1960 season is international in character, consisting of two Germans, two Frenchmen, an English woman, two Jordanians, and four Americans. Professor Arnulf  Kuschke of Mainz will be in charge of further explorations of the winery; Father John L. McKenzie S. J. expects to extend the cemetery; and Miss Diana Kirkbridge of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem will devote her efforts to problems of stratigraphy. Dr. James B. Pritchard will again be in charge of the project.

Cite This Article

"Expedition News – Spring 1960." Expedition Magazine 2, no. 3 (May, 1960): -. Accessed April 18, 2024. https://www.penn.museum/sites/expedition/expedition-news-spring-1960/

This digitized article is presented here as a historical reference and may not reflect the current views of the Penn Museum.

Report problems and issues to digitalmedia@pennmuseum.org.