Chapter 8: The Eastern Djebel
East of Garian the hill-country approaches the sea and merges with the landward territory of Lepcis Magna. The tract enclosed to the south and east by the Wadi Tareglat (Wadi el-Caam, the river Cinyps of antiquity) was intensively cultivated from an early date. Even discounting a certain exaggeration in Herodotus' account of the Hill of the Graces (ὁ λόφος ὁ Χαρίτων; IV, 175, 198), this was fertile territory; and the fine of oil exacted by Caesar from Lepcis (Bell.Afr. 97,3) affords valuable evidence that already in Punic times olive culture was established on a large scale. From the early Empire onwards there is epigraphic record of official interest in the Tarhuna plateau (930 ; also the Neo-Punic dedication by the same proconsul, L.Aelius Lamia, of a temple to Ammon, near Tarhuna, Neo-Punic 6). The surviving remains attest an intense farming activity, with the olive predominant; and it is almost the only part of the interior from which there are records of mosaic pavements, a sure sign of settled Roman influence. Deforestation and soil-erosion were already problems in Roman times. But despite this, and despite the disorders of the later fourth and fifth centuries, it is clear that, relatively to the coastal cities, this area retained a certain prosperity throughout late classical times.
The inscriptions cover a wide range. The formal military organization of the limes is reflected in the texts from Ain Wif (868, 869, 870) and perhaps in the gravestone of a veteran at Gasr Doga (872), while 875 and 877 record the para-military centenaria, which under the later Empire supplemented the regular military organization here and in the frontier-zone to the south. Civil texts range from the formal dedication of a temple by a Tiberian proconsul (Neo-Punic 6) to inscriptions in the Libyan tongue, in some of which the only recognisable classical element is the characters in which they are inscribed (865, 873, 879).
[The following exemplary texts were illustrated in the1952 edition]:
876 (on limestone, cut between shallow guide-lines), one of two closely related texts (875, 876), the characteristic lettering of which is repeated in several otherwise undated inscriptions of the Sofeggin valley : the monogram-cross of 876 cannot be earlier than the closing years of the fourth century.
869, on limestone; 1. 8, the symbol for centurione is obscured by deposit) illustrates semi-official epigraphy of the third century, for comparison with PI. XI, 1 and 2.