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Ghirza: Mausoleum North-A


Ghirza, northern necropolis. Photo Marco Prins.
Northern necropolis
Ghirza: Roman town in Libya, one of the main archaeological sites of the country.                  
General North-A South A Gh 82

North-B South C

North-C South F

North D-G South G


South NN
Ancient-Warfare.com, the online home of Ancient Warfare magazine
Ghirza, north necropolis, tomb A. Photo Marco Prins. Ghirza's North Cemetery is about half a kilometer west of the center of the town. Unlike the tombs on the South Cemetery, which looked like obelisks, the mausoleums of this cemetery resemble temples, comparable to the mausoleum of Qasr Banat. In Graeme Barker e.a., Farming the Desert. The UNESCO Libyan Valleys Archaeological Survey (1996), this cemetry is known as Gh129. This is Mausoleum A.

Ghirza, north necropolis, tomb A. Photo Marco Prins.
This monument, which may also be called the tomb of Marchius Nasif and Marchia Mathlich, faces east, to the rising sun and more or less to the town itself. Like the other mausoleums, it is built on a high platform and surrounded by columns that are obviously inspired by classical styles (Ionian columns, in this case, combined with a Doric architrave).

Mausoleum A is unique because it has two funeral rooms. On stylistic grounds and the evidence of ceramics, it can be dated to the early fourth century, which can also be deduced from the spelling of the Latin name Marcius. In the fourth century, the letters ci, which had always represented /ki/, were increasingly often pronounced as /si/. Most Romans accepted this and said Marsius instead of Markius, but the Libyans of Ghirza retained the original pronunciation, and included an h to leave no doubt about this.

Ghirza, north necropolis, tomb A. Photo Marco Prins.
The southern wall of Mausoleum A. Above the door, which one can still reach by the stairs to the right, was a simple frieze, in which a Latin inscription was included. To the left and right of the inscription were depictions of two eagles carrying hares. They may represent the ascension to heaven of the soul.

Inscription Ghirza, north necropolis, tomb A. Photo Marco Prins.
The inscription, now in the museum of Lepcis Magna, mentions the two deceased (Marchius Nasif and Marchia Mathlich), for whom their sons Marchius Nimira and Fydel have erected the monument.

Portraits from Ghirza, north necropolis, tomb A. Photo Marco Prins.
On the southern wall, these two portraits were included. One of the women may be Marcia Mathlich - but who is the other?

Below, several details of this monument. From left to right, the Dorian architrave with the monument's only gargoyle, two photos of the Ionian columns, and two pictures of the inner frieze: two peasants with a bull and a lion attacking an unidentified animal.

Ghirza, northern necropolis, tomb A. Photo Marco Prins.
Ghirza, northern necropolis, tomb A. Photo Marco Prins.
Ghirza, northern necropolis, tomb A. Photo Marco Prins.
Ghirza, northern necropolis, tomb A. Photo Marco Prins.
Ghirza, northern necropolis, tomb A. Photo Marco Prins.

General North-A South A Gh 82

North-B South C

North-C South F

North D-G South G


South NN
Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2006
Revision: 8 Oct. 2009
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