Latin name LIBYA (from Greek Λιβύη, Libyē) referred to the
region west of the
Nile generally corresponding to the modern Maghreb
. Its people were ancestors of the modern
the area for thousands of years before the beginning of human records
in ancient Egypt. Climate changes affected the locations of the
Libya could also refer to the country immediately west
of Egypt, viz.
Libya Inferior) and
Libyan Sea or Mare Libycum was the part of the
Mediterranean Sea south of
Crete , between Cyrene and
Hellenistic period , the
Berbers were known as Libyans, a
Greek term for the inhabitants of the Maghreb. Their lands were called
Libya " and extended from modern
Morocco to the western borders of
Egypt . Modern
Egypt contains the
Siwa Oasis , which was part
of ancient Libya. Siwi , a Berber language , is still spoken in the
* 1 Name
* 2 History
* 3 Geography
* 4 Later sources
* 5 Ancient Libyan (Berber) tribes
* 6 See also
* 7 References and notes
* 8 External links
The Greek name is based on the ethnonym
Ancient Greek :
Latin : Libyes). The name
Libya (in use since
1934 for the modern country formerly known as Tripolitania and Barca )
Latin designation for the region of the Maghreb, from the
Ancient Greek (
Attic Greek : Λιβύη Libúē,
Doric Greek :
Λιβύᾱ Libúā). In
Classical Greece , the term had a broader
meaning, encompassing the continent that later (second century BC)
became known as Africa , which, in antiquity, was assumed to
constitute one third of the world's land mass, compared to
Libu are attested since the
Late Bronze Age
Late Bronze Age as inhabiting the
region (Egyptian R'bw, Punic : 𐤋𐤁𐤉 lby). The oldest known
references to the
Libu date to
Ramesses II and his successor Merneptah
, pharaohs of the Nineteenth Dynasty of
Egypt , during the 13th
century BC. LBW appears as an ethnic name on the
Merneptah Stele .
Menelaus had travelled there on his way home from Troy ; it was a
land of wonderful richness, where the lambs have horns as soon as they
are born, where ewes lamb three times a year and no shepherd ever goes
short of milk, meat or cheese.
Homer names Libya, in
Odyssey (IX.95; XXIII.311).
Homer used the name
in a geographic sense, while he called its inhabitants "Lotus-eaters
". After Homer,
Pindar , and other ancient Greek writers
use the name.
Herodotus (1.46) used Λιβύη Libúē to indicate the
African continent; the Líbues proper were the light-skinned North
Africans, while those south of
Elephantine on the Nile)
were known to him as "Aethiopians "; this was also the understanding
of later Greek geographers such
Diodorus Siculus ,
Strabo , Pliny the
Elder , etc.
When the Greeks actually settled in the real
Libya in the 630s, the
old name taken from the Egyptians was applied by the Greeks of
Cyrenaica , who may have coexisted with the Libu. Later, the name
appeared in the
Hebrew language , written in the
Bible as LEHABIM and
LUBIM, indicating the ethnic population and the geographic territory
as well. In the neo-Punic inscriptions, it was written as Lby for the
masculine noun, and Lbt for the feminine noun of Libyan.
Latin absorbed the name from Greek and the Punic languages. The
Romans would have known them before their colonization of North Africa
because of the Libyan role in the
Punic Wars against the Romans. The
Romans used the name LíBUES, but only when referring to Barca and the
Libyan Desert of Egypt. The other Libyan territories were called
Classical Arabic literature called
Libya Lubya, indicating a
speculative territory west of Egypt. Modern Arabic uses Libya. The
Lwatae, the tribe of
Ibn Battuta , as the
Arabs called it, was a
Berber tribe that mainly was situated in Cyrenaica. This tribe may
have ranged from the
Atlantic Ocean to modern
Libya , however, and was
referred to by Corippius as
Laguatan ; he linked them with the Maures
Ibn Khaldun 's
Muqaddimah states Luwa was an ancestor of this tribe.
He writes that the
Berbers add an "a" and "t" to the name for the
plural forms. Subsequently, it became Lwat.
Arabs adopted the name as a singular form, adding an
"h" for the plural form in Arabic.
Ibn Khaldun disagrees with Ibn
Hazam , who claimed, mostly on the basis of Berber sources, that the
Lwatah, in addition to the Sadrata and the Mzata, were from the Qibts
(Egyptians). According to Ibn Khaldun, this claim is incorrect because
Ibn Hazam had not read the books of the Berber scholars.
Oric Bates , a historian, considers that the name
Libu or LBW would
be derived from the name Luwatah whilst the name Liwata is a
derivation of the name Libu.
Archaeological Site of Sabratha,
Compared with the history of
Egypt , historians know little about the
history of Libya, as there are few surviving written records.
Information on ancient
Libya comes from archaeological evidence and
historic sources written by Egyptians neighbors, the ancient Greeks,
Romans, and Byzantines , and from
Arabs of Medieval times.
Since Neolithic times, the climate of North Africa has become drier.
A reminder of the desertification of the area is provided by
megalithic remains, which occur in great variety of form and in vast
numbers in presently arid and uninhabitable wastelands: dolmens and
Stonehenge , cairns, underground cells excavated in rock,
barrows topped with huge slabs, and step-pyramid-like mounds. Most
remarkable are the trilithons , some still standing, some fallen,
which occur isolated or in rows, and consist of two squared uprights
standing on a common pedestal that supports a huge transverse beam. In
the Terrgurt valley, Cowper says, "There had been originally no less
than eighteen or twenty megalithic trilithons, in a line, each with
its massive altar placed before it."
In ancient times, the Phoenicians and Carthaginians , the Persian
Achaemenid Empire (see
Libya (satrapy) ), the armies of Alexander the
Great and his Ptolemaic successors from Egypt, then Romans , Vandals ,
and local representatives of the
Byzantine Empire ruled all or parts
of Libya. The territory of modern
Libya had separate histories until
Roman times, as Tripoli and Cyrenaica.
Cyrenaica , by contrast, was Greek before it was Roman. It was also
Pentapolis , the "five cities" being Cyrene (near the village
of Shahat) with its port of Apollonia (Marsa Susa), Arsinoe (Tocra),
Berenice (Bengazi) and Barca (Merj). From the oldest and most famous
Greek colonies the fertile coastal plain took the name of
These five cities were also known as the Western Pentapolis; not to
be confused with the
Pentapolis of the Roman era on the current west
The exact boundaries of Ancient
Libya are unknown. It lay west of
Ancient Egypt and was known as "Tjehenu" to the Ancient Egyptians.
Libya was an unknown territory to the Egyptians: it was the lands of
the spirits . Map of the world according to
To the Ancient Greeks ,
Libya was one of the three known continents
Europe . In this sense,
Libya was the whole known
African continent to the west of the
Nile Valley and extended south of
Herodotus described the inhabitants of
Libya as two peoples:
The Libyans in northern Africa and the Ethiopians in the south.
According to Herodotus,
Libya began where
Ancient Egypt ended, and
Cape Spartel , south of
Tangier on the
Atlantic coast .
Modern geographers suspect that Ancient Libyans may have experienced
loss of forests, reliable fresh water sources, and game availability
as the area became more desert-like..
After the Egyptians, the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines mentioned
various other tribes in Libya. Later tribal names differ from the
Egyptian ones but, probably, some tribes were named in the Egyptian
sources and the later ones, as well. The
Meshwesh -tribe represents
this assumption. Scholars believe it would be the same tribe called
Mazyes by Hektaios and Maxyes by Herodotus, while it was called
"Mazaces" and "Mazax" in
Latin sources. All those names are similar to
the name used by the
Berbers for themselves, Imazighen .
Late period sources give more detailed descriptions of
Libya and its
inhabitants. The ancient historian
Libya and the
Libyans in his fourth book, known as The Libyan Book. Pliny the Elder
Diodorus Siculus , and
Procopius also contributed to what is now
primary source material on ancient
Libya and the Libyans.
Ibn Khaldun, who dedicated the main part of his book Kitab el\'ibar ,
which is known as "The history of the Berbers", did not use the names
Libya and Libyans, but instead used Arabic names: The Old
(El-Maghrib el-Qadim), and the
Berbers (El-Barbar or El-Barabera(h)).
ANCIENT LIBYAN (BERBER) TRIBES
There were many Berber tribes in ancient Libya, including the now
Psylli , with the
Libu being the most prominent. The ancient
Libyans were mainly pastoral nomads, living off their goats, sheep and
other livestock. Milk, meat, hides and wool were gathered from their
livestock for food, tents and clothing. Ancient Egyptian sources
describe Libyan men with long hair, braided and beaded, neatly parted
from different sides and decorated with feathers attached to leather
bands around the crown of the head while wearing thin robes of
antelope hide, dyed and printed, crossing the shoulder and coming down
until mid calf length to make a robe. Older men kept long braided
beards. Women wore the same robes as men, plaited, decorated hair and
both genders wore heavy jewelry. Weapons included bows and arrows,
hatchets, spears and daggers.
The Libyan script that was used in
Libya was mostly a funerary script
. It is difficult to understand, and there are a number of
Ibn Khaldun divided the
Berbers into the Batr and the
Herodotus divided them into Eastern Libyans and Western Libyans .
Eastern Libyans were nomadic shepherds east of
Lake Tritonis . Western
Libyans were sedentary farmers who lived west of Lake Tritonis. At
one point, a catastrophic change reduced the vast body of fresh water
to a seasonal lake or marsh.
Ibn Khaldun and
Herodotus distinguish the Libyans on the basis of
their lifestyles rather than ethnic background. Modern historians tend
to follow Herodotus's distinction. Examples, Oric Bates in his book
The Eastern Libyans. Some other historians have used the modern name
Berbers in their works, such as the French historian Gabriel
The Libyan tribes mentioned in these sources were: "Adyrmachidae ",
"Giligamae ", "Asbystae ", "Marmaridae ", "Auschisae ", "
Macae ", "
Lotus-eaters (or Lotophagi)", "
Garamantes ", "Gaetulians ",
"Maures (Berbers) ", and "Luwatae ", as well as many others.
North Africa during Antiquity
North Africa during Antiquity
History of North Africa
REFERENCES AND NOTES
* ^ Gabriel Camps, L\'origin des berbères Archived 29 January 2007
Wayback Machine .
* ^ Oliver, Roland p. 47
* ^ Gardiner, Alan Henderson (1964)
Egypt of the Pharaohs: an
introduction Oxford University Press, London, p. 273, ISBN
* ^ The Cambridge
History of North Africa and the people between
them as the Egyptians, p. 141.
* ^ Fage, J. D. (ed.) (1978) "The Libyans" The Cambridge History of
Africa: From c. 500 BC to AD 1050 volume II, Cambridge University
Press, Cambridge, England, p. 141, ISBN 0-521-21592-7
* ^ The full name of
Ibn Battuta was Abu 'Abd Allah Muhammad ibn
'Abd Allah AL-LAWATI at-Tanji ibn Battuta
* ^ The History of Ibn Khaldun, third chapter p. 184-258(in Arabic)
* ^ Bates, Oric (1914) The Eastern Libyans. London: Macmillan & Co.
* ^ A Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian, Raymond O Faulkner,
* ^ Bates, Oric
* ^ Mohammed Chafik, Highlights of thirty-three centuries of
Imazighen p. 9 .
* ^ Chaker, Salem. "L\'écriture libyco-berbère (The Libyco-Berber
script)" (in French). Archived from the original on 13 January 2010.
Retrieved 5 December 2010.
* ^ Chaker Script
* ^ Ibn Khaldun, The History of Ibn Khaldun: The thirth chapter p.
Herodotus , On Libya, from The Histories, c. 430 BC
* ^ "
Gabriel Camps is considered as the father of the North African
prehistory, by founding d'Etude Berbère at the University of
Aix-en-Provence and the Encyclopédie berbère." (From the
introduction of the English book The
Berbers by Elizabeth Fentres and
Michael Brett, p. 7).
Wikisource has the text of the