Beyond Ghirza. Funerary iconography of Tripolitania, Libya

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


The outstanding funerary iconography that decorates the numerous mausolea
at the pre-desert settlement of Ghirza (Tripolitania, Libya) has lost nothing of
its fascination to visitors and scholars alike. The large carved stone friezes
depict animals, floral motifs, abstract decorations, portraits and whole figural
scenes representing, for instance, agricultural activities, religious practices,
martial scenes or power related imagery.
Ghirza is frequently cited as a prime example of provincial Tripolitanian
funerary art and iconography during the Roman period; however, how
‘typical’ is this iconography in relation to the many other mausolea that can be
found in other areas of the pre-desert and desert regions? Or is it indeed
possible to detect regional styles and variety of scenes, suggesting a much
wider local diversity?
This paper will particularly concentrate on the mausolea ‘beyond Ghirza’
while considering localized North African traditions in an attempt to place
Ghirza within the wider context of Tripolitanian funerary iconography. It will
investigate the differences and similarities in the selection of scenes that are
displayed on the monument, as well as the choice of portrait of the deceased.
Aspects that may have influenced the commissioner’s choice of a particular
scene or style will be considered.
Period26 Oct 2013
Event titlede Africa Romaque, Merging Cultures Across North Africa
Event typeConference
LocationLeicester, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Funerary Landscapes
  • Funerary Monuments
  • North Africa
  • Libya
  • Iconography
  • Identity
  • Roman