Roman Cyrenaica

In the ancient world Cyrenaica was originally occupied by a semi-nomadic population conventionally known as Libyan, and settled by Greek colonists in and after the late seventh century B.C. The Greeks eventually established five cities (Cyrene, Apollonia, Barca/Ptolemais, Taucheira and Euhesperides/Berenice) and an unknown number of villages. (The distribution of the population has points of contact with that of classical Attica). They were joined in the third-second centuries B.C. by groups brought in by the Hellenistic kings of Egypt (who had acquired control over the territory) – all of them Greek-speakers, as far as we know, but of varied origins (including a number of Jews - but very few genuine Egyptians). In the second century B.C. the king (related to the dynasty ruling in Egypt) is known, from an inscription found at Cyrene, to have bequeathed his kingdom to Rome should he die without an heir. In fact he left an heir, but a descendant who died in 96B.C. had none - and Cyrenaica then passed peacefully into Roman control - at first very loosely exercised, later with increasing effect, but only seriously after c. 30B.C. Thereafter, until the beginning of the fourth century A.D. it was normally administered along with the neighbouring island of Crete by proconsuls of praetorian rank answerable to the Senate and People at Rome; but the inscriptions show a significant relationship also with the emperors - a matter on which they throw useful light. At the beginning of the fourth century A.D. Cyrenaica was separated from Crete, divided into two, the provinces of Libya Inferior and Libya Superior or Pentapolis and governed thereafter as standard late antique provinces.

History of Scholarship

The inscriptions of Roman Cyrenaica:

Even for that brief outline of the area's history much significant evidence comes from inscriptions - the literary evidence is very limited; and for anything more that the historian would want to examine he must largely base his work on the further analysis of inscriptions.