History of Libya: Early Colonization

History of Libya: Early Colonization Last updated on Wednesday 21st April 2010

The area corresponding to modern-day Libya was first colonized in the 12th century BC by the Phoenicians, who established trading posts in Tripolitania and at several other points along the North African coast.

The Carthaginians took over these Phoenician colonies in the 6th century BC and expanded them as part of the mighty Carthaginian Empire. The Greeks also settled in the area of Cyrenaica, which is mentioned by the Herodotus, the Greek historian, writing in the 5th century BC.

When the city of Carthage fell to Rome in the second century BC, the whole of the African Mediterranean coast was under Roman dominance for almost 600 years. When the Roman Empire fell into decline, however, the area was invaded first by the Vandals in AD455 and later by Byzantium in the following century. An Arab invasion of Libya in AD643 marked the end of Byzantine dominance.

Libya was then ruled by a succession of Arab dynasties, including the Umayyads, Fatimids and Almohads. A brief period of supremacy by the Normans occurred in 1146, and a longer period by the Spanish, who held sway in Libya for the first half of the 16th century. Turkish forces conquered the land in 1551, and Libya then became part of the Ottoman Empire.

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