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Bani Walid


A flash flood in the Wadi Merdum. Photo Jona Lendering. Bani Walid: Libyan village with a small museum on ancient art.

Bani Walid is situated on both banks along the Wadi Merdum, which is shown on the first photo during the winter. The seasonal rains have changed the wadi, usually dry, into a real current. The dams in the wadi are ancient, and were probably built when the Romans developed this area in the third century CE. This was part of the creation of the Limes Tripolitanus.

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A relief of a man climbing in a tree. Museum of Bani Walid (Libya). Photo Marco Prins.
Other wadis were developed as well (cf. Ghirza), and the land appears to have been very rich. The agricultural products were brought to Lepcis Magna, an important port that became one of the main cities of Roman Africa. Except for the dams and the mausoleums of nearby Msletten, there are no ancient remains visible in modern Bani Walid.

However, the city boasts a small museum, which contains much ancient sculpture from nearby archaeological sites. This reliefs shows a man climbing a palm tree to cut dates. This is a stereotypical representation that can be found on several other sites in the neighborhood, like the tombs of Ghirza.
A relief of a peasant with a dromedary. Museum of Bani Walid (Libya). Photo Marco Prins.
Many monuments were decorated with agricultural motifs, like this peasant plowing with a dromedary. It belongs to a seruies of reliefs from Wadi al-Binya. Again, the same motif can be seen on the mausoleums of Ghirza. Another common theme is the fish, which can also be found at Qasr Banat. In the semidesert, the symbolism speaks for itself: water, life, eternity.
A couple on a frieze from Wadi Antar. Museum of Bani Walid (Libya). Photo Jona Lendering.

A couple on a frieze from a tomb from Wadi Antar. On the next line, from left to right: the splendid tomb of Annosay ben Masana from a town called Ghanafes; a tomb from Wadi Galboon (at the bottom a dwarf-sized Hercules); a simple tomb from Wadi Marcit (note the "sign of Tanit"); and finally, two mourners from a tomb discovered along the Wadi Migdal.

Tomb of Annosay ben Masana. Museum of Bani Walid (Libya). Photo Ab Langereis. Tomb from Wadi Galboon. Museum of Bani Walid (Libya). Photo Marco Prins. A tomb from Wadi Marcit. Museum of Bani Walid (Libya). Photo Marco Prins. Mourners from Wadi Migdal. Museum of Bani Walid (Libya). Photo Jona Lendering.
An obelisk-shaped tomb from Bir Tarsin. Museum of Bani Walid (Libya). Photo Jona Lendering.
In the garden of the museum are two ancient olive presses and this obelisk-shaped from Bir Tarsin, which dates -like most other objects on this page- back to the third or fourth century. Other objects in the museum are from Lepcis Magna, Oea (modern Tripoli), and Ghirza.

I am not sure about the spelling of the various topographical names, because all explanatory signs are written in Arab, and the vocals are not indicated. The museum appears to be a one-man endeavor, and the kind guard whom we met in 2006 and 2008 does not speak English. The museum is east of the only hotel in town (satellite; hotel top left, museum center right).
© Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2006
Revision: 14 March 2008
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