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  1. Ptolemais, Cyrenaica

    Ptolemais or Ptolemaida was one of the ancient capitals of Cyrenaica. It was probably named after Ptolemy III Euergetes. Its Latin name in Roman times was Tolmeta, from which the modern Libyan town of Tolmeitha derives its name. The town was most probably founded in 7th or 6th century BC by settlers from Barka. Soon it became one of the founding city-states of the Pentapolis federation. In 331 BC the union was dissolved after all of its towns surrendered to Alexander the Great. After his death the area formed part of the Ptolemaic empire. In early 1st century the region was conquered by Rome and became a separate province. Roman Tolmeta had no local water supply, but Roman architects built a conduit from the hills and stored the water in eighteen huge galleries under the forum, about fourteen feet high by ten feet wide. These are in perfect repair and were rediscovered during the Italian occupation. In the course of military operations against rebels, it was discovered that the rebels used the underground as a place of hiding; two or three hundred men could easily be hidden in them. In 365 a major earthquake struck the region and destroyed all of the five major cities of the area. Ptolemais survived the tragedy in relatively good condition, and it was there that the most important authorities were moved. It served the role of a capital of Cyrenaica until 428, when it was destroyed by the Vandals. During the reign of Justinian I the city was rebuilt, but it never regained its powers and was again destroyed by the Arabs in the 7th century.

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