Illuminating the past – Enhancing the present – Inspiring the future

Our Libyan friends

The Trust has recently been playing host to four colleagues from Libya; Ahmed Emrage of the University of Benghazi and Fadl Abdulaziz, Akram Masri and Moataz Al Zwai of the Department of Antiquities. They have been engaged in a range of activities and training with Trust staff  – all as part of an initiative to complete the excavation of the Haua Cave in Cyrenaica.

The cave has long been regarded as one of the most significant for prehistoric occupation in North Africa, and arguably one of the most important ancient caves in the world. It was first identified as such in the early 1950s by a Cambridge University team led by Charles McBurney. A 14m deep excavation located at the centre of the cave revealed a near continuous sequence of deposits extending back to the Middle Palaeolithic, thought then to date to approximately 80,000 years ago, ending with Neolithic remains 7,000 years old, with Greek, Roman and Arab levels testifying to more recent use. The Haua has been used by a local family to pen domesticated animals for generations and, during difficult times, for habitation.

A new phase of work in the cave began in 2007 under the direction of Professor Graeme Barker, also of Cambridge University, and is on-going. Staff from the Trust, with Paul Bennett, have assisted in recent years, but the deteriorating security situation in Libya means that work has halted – for the time being.

It is hoped that our friends from the Department of Antiquities of Libya will resume work in April with excavation monitored from Canterbury and Cambridge via Skype and phone conferencing.
Sieving with Alex VokesSurveying with Ross LaneCourse completed

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