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Boreum of Cyrenaica

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 September 2012


Two localities of ancient Cyrenaica bore the name Βόρειν. The first, recognized by the ancient geographers as the eastern extremity of the Greater Syrtis, was a promontory and harbour which, from the evidence of the Stadiasmus Marts Magni, lay 131 stades (23·5 km.) south of the city of Berenice. It has been convincingly identified with the modern Ras Taiúnes, a small headland at precisely that distance from Benghazi. There is no evidence that this promontory was ever the site of permanent settlement in the form of a village or fort.

Research Article
Copyright ©R. G. Goodchild 1951. Exclusive Licence to Publish: The Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies

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1 Stad. mar. magn. 62–3; Strabo XVII, 836; Mela 1, 37; Pliny, , NH V, 28;Google Scholar Ptol. iv, 4, 3; Amm. Marc, XXII, 15, 2. Cf. P-W in, 730 s.v. ‘Boreion 2’ (Sethe).

2 Stad. mar. magn. 78–9; Itin. Ant. 66, 1. Cf. P-W III, 730, s.v. ‘Boreion 3’; and Müller, , Geogr. gr. min. 1, 452,Google Scholar and Tabulae 1, XX.

3 Procopius, , De aedif. VI, 2Google Scholar (trans. Dewing).

4 Hist. eccles. II, 3.

5 Müller (o.c, Tabulae 1, XX) places Automala at the bottom of the Syrtic gulf, close to the Sebcha Mugtáa. This is the only position which suits the distances given in the Stadiasmus, but the actual site has still to be found. For Anabucis, see below (p. 16).

6 Müller (l.c.) places Arae Philaenorum near Ras Lanuf, and the modern Italian commemorative arch recording the Philaeni also stands there. The distance figures of Stadiasmus and Roman itineraries indicate a site further to the east, not far from the western edge of the Sebcha Mugtáa. It is hoped to investigate the problem in 1951.

7 Sentianus, Bishop of Boreum, was one of the several ecclesiastics of the Pentapolis who supported Arius (cf. Nicetas Choniata, Thesaurus 7, quoting a lost fragment of Philostorgius). He did not, however, attend the Council of Nicaea. Although listed by Lequien, , Oriens Christianus II, 618Google Scholar ff., Boreum does not appear as a bishopric in A. H. M. Jones, Cities of the Eastern Roman Provinces 351–364, and Appendix IV, Table 49.

8 Honigmann, E., Le Synekdemos d'Hierokles (Brussels 1939) 2;Google Scholar but cf. Jones, o.c, Appendix III.

9 F. W., and Beechey, H. W., Proceedings of the expedition to explore the Northern Coast of Africa (London, 1828) 233–5Google Scholar.

10 Barth, H., Wanderungen durch die Küstenländer des Mittelmeeres (Berlin 1849) 349Google Scholar. (His description of the site is a repetition of the Beecheys'.) P-W l.c.

11 Bollettino Geografico (Governo della Cirenaica, Ufficio Studi) no. 5, July–Dec. 1927, 20 (with unsealed sketch-plan).

12 Ghislanzoni, , ‘Notizie arch, sulla Cirenaica,’ Notiz. Arch Min. Col. 1 (1915), 72;Google Scholar Ferri, , ‘Firme di legionari della Siria nella Gran Sirte,’ Rivista di Tripolitania 11 (1926), 363;Google Scholar Romanelli, , La Cirenaica romana (Verbania 1943) 120, 173, 204Google Scholar.

13 The expedition was carried out under the auspices of the Society of Antiquaries of London, with generous contributions from learned bodies, including the Roman Society. I am indebted to Messrs. Ballance, McGregor, Smith, Spaul, and Titchmarsh for the survey of Boreum (fig. 2), and to the first-named for photographs (pl. 1, 1 and 2).

14 Numerous examples of these forts were visited and surveyed in the course of the 1950 expedition, and will be published in due course.

15 Beechey, o.c, 230, note. There are at least twelve of these forts within a radius of five kilometres of Boreum.

16 Cf. Windberg in P-W XIX, 2098–2101, s.v. ‘Philaenorum Arae’.

17 This is the name given by the British army to the Italian arch at Ras Lanuf (see p. 11, n. 6 above). Gasr el-Haddadia, first recorded by Cerrata (Sirtis 220), is a much more satisfactory identification for Tugulus than the Wadi Matratin (‘Teratin’) proposed by Miller. Cf. Treidler in P-W (2) IV, 2024–5, s.v. ‘Tagulis’.

18 Ferri, l.c. = SEG IX, 773–795.

19 I am indebted to Air Headquarters, R.A.F. Malta, for the air photographs (pl. 1, 3, 4) of Boreum and Gasr el-Atallat, taken by Flying Officer MacGillivary at my suggestion. During the same air reconnaissance the line of the Roman road was observed, and photographed.

20 Ad Puteum must have been at, or near, the well which supplied the Italian village at Marsa Brega, some 15 km. west of Gasr el-Atallat.

21 Miller (Itineraria Romana 891) proposes this identification which is entirely acceptable. There is a large fortress on the headland of Ben Gauuad, which dominates the coastal route.

22 Digdiga, described as Municipium Selorum on the Peutinger Map, is referred to by Corippus, (Joh. 11, 119)Google Scholar as one of the centres of the African revolt. Its site has been identified by Cerrata, with great probability, in the Wadi Hariga, near Marsa el-Ihudia (Sirtis 220).