The Beatles almost made this ancient wonder famous

Celebrity news has put an ancient Libyan city back on the cultural map. Last week, Peter Jackson, the acclaimed director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, released a three-part miniseries Return on Disney+. The six-hour film is based on seen and unseen footage from the making of the 1970 film Let it be. The original was filmed after the band decided to stop touring to focus on recording music in the studio. While recording what would become their last album in 1969, The Beatles performed one final show on the roof of Apple Corps headquarters in London. However, that now iconic performance was almost filmed in the ruins of a Roman theater in North Africa.

The show was scheduled with just two weeks’ notice, and at the time, potential venues ranged from the traditional – like the Royal Albert Hall or the Tate Gallery in London – to subversive. Paul was clearly interested in a void gig in the Houses of Parliament that would culminate in their forcible removal by the London police force. Michael Lindsay-Hogg, the director of the 1970 film, however, is campaigning for a more ancient setting.

The plan was to take a cruise ship to Libya, rehearsal on the road, and performed in the ruins of the amphitheater in Sabratha. Based on journalist John Harris, John Lennon were enthusiastic and McCartney was ready for adventure. On the other hand, George Harrison called the whole idea “very expensive and crazy”. In the end the idea was extinguished, and the rest was History.

In retrospect, Sabratha could have used it publicly.

Sabratha lies about 43 miles west of present-day Tripoli and was probably founded around 500 BC by the ancient Phoenicians as a trading post on the coast. The city was incorporated as part of a Roman province in the first century AD and Romanized thereafter. Extensive rebuilding projects during the second and third centuries AD transformed Sabratha and the neighboring cities of Oea and Leptis Magna (better known) into a cosmopolitan Roman Tripolis (Tripolis, from which we have modern Tripoli, literally “three cities”). Although Leptis Magna has been a major city since the first century, construction projects have brought prominence and attention to the area.



Heritage Image

They can also be called a passion project. The cities were expanded by the Roman emperor Septimius Severus, who grew up in Leptis Magna, and as a result favored the area. The influx of wealth into the region has made Leptis Magna one of the most important cities in Africa, and Sabratha and Olea are both on this list. Beautifully preserved ruins include the Christian Basilica, temples dedicated to Serapis and Isis, and the remarkable three-story theater in which the Beatles had planned to perform.

However, in recent years, Sabratha has not had such good results. Over the past decade, and as a result of the political unrest that followed the Arab Spring, the cultural heritage of the region is under threat. Since the nine-month Civil War that culminated in Gaddafi’s capture and death in October 2011, Libya has engaged in a second longer conflict between rival groups and armed militias. armed. A ceasefire was reached in October 2020 but, as was the case with Egypt and Tunisia, nine years of fighting provided cover for the destruction and looting of antiquities.

In 2016, the World Heritage Committee to add Sabratha (and four other Libyan archaeological sites) on the list of endangered world heritage sites. In a statement that year, senior Libyan archaeologist Ramadan Shebani, speak that the artifact was “smuggled” out of Libya on the black market. Looting is difficult to control because much of it involves people digging under houses or in the desert. However, some more strategic. Shebani mentioned online advertising “for the sale and purchase of Libyan statues and antiquities.” Plagiarism to order is a real problem as unscrupulous auction houses, dealers and buyers seek to take advantage of the lack of oversight and centralized government.

Not all damage to Sabratha and other Libyan World Heritage Sites is due to looting or war. Many sites of interest have been vandalized with murals, while some have built homes in the historic and archaeological sites. A 2013 law allowing Libyans to reclaim land taken from them under Gaddafi’s regime only exacerbated the problem of urban encroachment on archaeological sites. Some of the reclaimed land they feel is their debt rather than just expropriated land.

During this period of instability, Sabratha was constantly affected by skirmishes between warring groups including ISIS. ISIS has maintained a militia presence in the city since December 2015. When they briefly captured the security headquarters in early 2016, they beheaded 12 security personnel in the court. home. The scale of the fighting changed the demographics of the city: as residents fled, the city became a hub for migrants trying to reach Europe. The Italian-backed militia has been paid to stem the tide of illegal immigration. In 2017, Director General of UNESCO appeal for help in “protecting… the unique cultural heritage of Sabratha” but the help did not materialize. Earlier this year, a man was arrest to rob objects from an archaeological site in Sabratha.

That looting and armed conflict in Libya coincided with similar devastation in Syria only added to Sabratha’s troubles. As Oberlin art historian Susan Kane put it Art newspaper In 2016, the focus on Syria and Palmyra meant that Libya’s legacy was ignored. Write to Allergy, archaeologist Michael Press agreed to argue that the artifact was weaponized to justify military intervention against IS in Syria while looting by other groups and in other countries was ignored. Powerful foreign governments, international organizations and wealthy corporations with the ability to help have had limited and somewhat overfocused attention.

In his Work, Newspapers have show that Western media and government interest in threats to cultural heritage revolves around areas that are relevant to Western history. Syria and Iraq are home to monuments, objects, cities, and architecture that relate to classical and biblical stories. NS destruction Jonah’s tomb by ISIS in 2014 received attention precisely because Jonah was a prophet and biblical hero. It’s a curse that our concern for cultural heritage is really about our self-interest, but if it were, it’s also worth noting how things could have been different if the Beatles had performed in the country. Sabratha, not London. Perhaps Sabratha’s association with the most influential band in pop history may have nurtured affection for the site and made it into our rather proud history. This is not to say that John, Paul, Ringo, and George could have saved Sabratha if they had stepped on stage in one of the jewels of the Roman Empire, but we might care more if they did. The Beatles almost made this ancient wonder famous


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