Chapter 5: The Sirtica
The narrow coastal strip of the Sirtica, the inhospitable southern coastline of the classical Syrtis Maior, is separated from the settled coastal zone to the north-west by the desolate marshland at the mouth of the Wadis Sofeggin, Zemzem and Bei el-Kebir; and, apart from the great coast-road and its installations, it was far more closely allied in antiquity to the frontier districts of the southern slopes of the Djebel and of the Sofeggin basin than to the coastal territories of the Three Cities. The only early-Imperial inscription (854) is, significantly, the record of the settlement of a tribal boundary-dispute; and so far as can be judged from the surviving remains, as yet barely explored, Romanization was superficial and late, and followed the general pattern of the limitane settlements to the west. Some of the small coasting stations go back to pre-Roman times; and the description of one of these, (probably to be identified with the modern Medinet es-Sultan) as locus Iudaeorum Augusti (Tab. Peut.) suggests the presence of Imperial estates. The Jewish settlements of Sirtica, which have survived until modern times, are further attested by the high proportion of Semitic names in the fourth-century catacomb at Sirte (855; see Bartoccini, Afr. Ital. II (1928-29) 200). There were no important urban centres.