The Libyan Expedition

For the past two years the Museum has continued its researches in Libya at the large ancient city of Leptis Magna. The purpose of this work, of which Dr. Theresa Howard Carter is field director, was to discover the Phoenician origins of this Roman city. Last season, at the edge of the Roman Forum, the foundations of a large Phoenician building dating to the second half of the 7th century B.C. were uncovered. The solid appearance of the building at the lowest level proved the permanent nature of the initial Phoenician settlement at Leptis Magna. Since a search for further Punic buildings would have necessitated cutting through the Roman city which is being restored by the Antiquities Department of Tripolitania in Libya, it was felt advisable to suspend investigation at that site.

This season the Museum is again sponsoring an expedition to the Kingdom of Libya. In this case, the purpose is to locate settlements dating from the Bronze Age, about 1500 to 800 b.C. in the more easterly province of Cyrenaica. This area, rich in Greek and Roman Classical settlements has been investigated by Italian, British, and American archaeologists for over fifty years. One of the great subjects of interest and conjecture in this area is the existence of caravan settlements from the Bronze Age as well as fortified “towns,” both inhabited by ancient Libyans. These people were well known in ancient times, their portraits appearing on numerous New Kingdom monuments in Egypt. Called the Libu by the ancient Egyptians, they undoubtedly traded and migrated from the area of the eastern Libyan coast to the fertile Egyptian oasis. Curious Libyan sculptures and so-called “Libyan” villages have been noted recently. No systematic investigation of this coastal plain has been conducted.

The expedition will begin a five weeks’ campaign, starting the middle of August, and following the old caravan routes from Bengasi to Derna. Special note will be taken of the sherd and test-sounding evidence that the group hopes to obtain at Ghemines, Martuba, Cyrene, and other sites. Mrs. Carter will again be in charge; the other members of the expedition will be Dr. Emily Townsend Vermeule of Boston University, David Crownover of the University Museum, and William C. Bertolet of the University of Pennsylvania.

Exhibition: Underwater Archaeology

During the summer there has been on view at the Museum an exhibition which, comprising a complete survey of underwater sites as well as finds, presents the impact of digging under the sea, the exciting new branch of archaeology.

The core of the exhibit is a corpus of photographs taken by staff members of the National Geographic Society of underwater operations the world over. Historical attempts at underwater exploration have been outlined as well as underwater equipment. The United States Divers Company has provided the exhibition with the latest “Scuba” diving props.

Early underwater finds include relics dredged up from the Cenote of Sacrifice at Chichen Itza from 1904 to 1907 by the late E.H. Thompson. These artifacts were lent by the Peabody Museum of Harvard University. From the Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia in Mexico City come other objects from the Sacred Cenote at Dzibilomaltun, Yucatan, recovered by divers in a joint expedition with the National Geographic Society.

Several countries are represented: France in the work of Jacques-Yves Cousteau on Greek ships off Marseilles; Guatemala in the work of Stephen de Borhegyi at Lake Amatitlan and its sacrificial offerings; Turkey in the work of George Bass of the Museum staff off Bodrum on a Homeric and a fine Byzantine wreck; Pitcairn Island in the work of Luis Marden; the pirate harbor of Port Royal, Jamaica in the work of the National Geographic Society; Bermuda in the work of Mendel Peterson of the Smithsonian Institution salvaging relics from a 17th century Virginia Trading Company vessel; Israel in the Link Expedition to Caesarea, and the Lake of Galilee worked by Immanuel Ben-Dor of Emory University finding objects from the time of Christ; Greece in the work of John Hall of the University of Florida, who has been diving off the coast of Olympia for the lost city of Pheia.

The Museum is currently at work at Bodrum where Mr. Bass is continuing the charting and salvage program on the 7th century Byzantine vessel.

After the close of the exhibition in Philadelphia, it will be shown in the new building of the Milwaukee Public Museum and in Explorers’ Hall in the Headquarters Building of the National Geographic Society in Washington.