Chapter 4: The Coastal Belt
It is probable that the Three Cities exercised jurisdiction over considerable stretches of adjacent territory along the coast in either direction. In the absence, however, of any clear evidence of their boundaries, it has been found convenient to group together in this section all those inscriptions that have been found in the coastal zone of western and central Tripolitania outside the immediate suburbs of Oea and Lepcis Magna and outside a circle of radius 5 km. drawn with the Forum of Sabratha as its centre.
Geographically this coastal strip falls into two sectors: the flat coastal strip of Western Tripolitania, dotted with oases and separated from the hill-country of the interior by the barren wastes of the Gefara; and the central coastline, from Fonduk el-Naggaza, some 20 km. west of Lepcis Magna, where the hills curve north-eastwards to meet the coast and thence run eastwards, gradually dropping in height, to Ras el-Barg (Cape Misurata), the ancient Κεφαλαί (PW XI, 190), near Misurata. Outside the oases, the western part was the less richly developed. But the archaeological remains and the itineraries show that both were settled territory, with villas and farms and some large estates, and, along the coast-road, posting-stations, fishing villages and way-side sanctuaries. The surviving inscriptions are all in character.