Lepcis Magna: Hadrianic Baths
|Lepcis Magna: Phoenician
colony, later part of the Carthaginian
empire, the kingdom of Massinissa,
and the Roman empire. Its most famous son was the
One of the banks in the tepidarium has an interesting Latin inscription, known as IRT 599. It is repeated on another bank in Punic (next photot):
IVTTAPH DOMITIVS SVFes De Pecvnia Faciendvm Curavit
AEDILES Sva Pecvnia Dono Dedervnt
|Which means that the suffete(mayor) Iuttaph Domitius ordered something to be made and that the overseers of the market gave it as a present to the city. It is not known what was made and presented, but it is certain that the text refers to something that was built in the second half of the first century, when it was still common to give the mayor a Punic title, and when hybrid names like Iuttaph Domitius were still en vogue.|
the semicircular sudatorium,
the southernmost room of the bathhouse, during a heavy rain
shower. (The photo is a bit out of focus because it was impossible to
get rid of the raindrops on the lens.) This was the warm water bath,
also known as caldarium.
The wall, which was covered with Numidian yellow-red marble, contained
windows to let in the sunlight, which must have
been closed by small plates of selenite; otherwise, the heat would be
|East and west of the tepid bath were two pairs of sweat rooms (laconica). As this photo shows, the floor was raised, which permitted hot air to the circulate beneath. The system was called hypocaustum. The walls were made of hollow bricks (tubuli), which enabled hot air to heat up the wall, similar to the pipes of a modern central heating system.|
|The furnaces (praefurnia) were just south of the main complex, and although this position may have facilitated heating the laconica, the owner of the bathhouse must gave found it hard to obtain sufficient wood. This photo shows a bathtub in one of the sweat rooms; the air in the rooms was not dry, but humid. On the next line of photos, the left one shows the tubuli.||(c) Ab Langereis|
|The second and third photo above show a part of the mosaic and a detail of the splendid decoration of the sweat rooms. The fourth photo shows three lavatory seats in one of the two public toilets. You can easily recognize that the sculptor made a mistake. The photo to the left shows the northeastern public toilet, which may also have been used by the athletes who were exercising in the nearby Palaestra.|
|The inscription known as IRT 718
...SIVS LA..S ET IRENE LIBerta ...which is hard to interpret.
... ET COMMODVS E...
|The inscription known as IRT 393 is a stereotypical dedication by the Lepcitanians to the emperor Septimius Severus, made in 203. His name is missing from the damaged first line. It contains the usual titulary (Pius, Pertinax, Augustus, Arabicus, Adiabenicus, Parthicus Maximus) and titles (pontifex maximus, father of the fatherland, eleven times imperator).|
four statues above are now in the National Archaeological Museum in
Tripoli. From left to right: the god Mars, the goddess Isis, a water
goddess, and Calliope, the Muse of epic poetry. Finally,
to the left the splendid
statue of Venus. It is a copy from the second century BCE of a famous
original by Praxiteles (fourth century BCE), that was already
celebrated in Antiquity (cf. the story of the man who well in love with
the original statue in Cnidus told by Philostratus
in his Life of Apollonius,
The statue is also known as the Aphrodite of Cnidus (after the
location of the original) or Capitoline Venus (because the most famous
copy is in Rome's Musei Capitolini).
The Hadrianic Baths were excavated in the 1920's, and the Lepcitanian copy of the Capitoline Venus was taken away to Europe by Mussolini, who gave it to the Nazi-leader Hermann Göring. The statue graced the bedroom of his country estate near Berlinn, Carinhall. It was finally returned to Libya in 1999. and today, it is in the National Archaeological Museum in Tripoli.
Next to the Hadrianic Baths was the Palaestra.
Jona Lendering for
Revision: 1 March 2008