African Archaeological Review

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 45–58 | Cite as

Weathering of Calcarenite Monuments at Roman and Byzantine Archaeological Sites at Sabratha, Northwestern Libya: A Pilot Study

  • Adam El-ShahatEmail author
  • Haithem Minas
  • Sadek Khomiara
Original Article


The Roman and Byzantine monuments at Sabratha in northwest Libya represent cultural heritage of remarkable global significance. This report describes the weathering damage of calcarenites, the most dominant stone type used in the construction of monuments in the ancient city of Sabratha. Stone loss, particularly alveolar weathering, notching and breakout of compact stone fragments, dominates deterioration phenomena. Other weathering forms include stone detachment (granular disintegration into sand) and fractures. Most of the studied monuments are also severely affected by biodeterioration, due to microorganism colonization that appears as biofilm. Both the low durability of the calcarenites and the marine environment with characteristic humidity and salt-rich marine spray are the important factors contributing to stone weathering. The results obtained in this pilot study may be used as a guideline for future restoration works.


Calcarenite weathering forms Roman and Byzantine monuments Sabratha Libya Stone conservation 


Les monuments romains et byzantins à Sabratha dans le nord-ouest de la Libye représentent du patrimoine culturel de valeur mondiale remarquable. Ce rapport décrit les dommages par météorisation des calcarénites, le type de pierre le plus dominant utilisé à la construction des monuments de la ville ancienne de Sabratha. La perte de pierre, la météorisation alvéolaire en particulier, l’entaillage et la fragmentation de pierre compacte dominent les phénomènes de dégradation. D’autres formes d’altération incluent les détachements de pierre (désintégration granulaire au sable) et des fractures. La plupart des monuments étudiés est gravement touchés par la biodégradation suite à la colonisation par des micro-organismes, lesquels apparaissent en forme de biofilm. La faible durabilité des calcarénites ainsi que l’environnement maritime avec l’humidité caractéristique et l’éclaboussure riche en sel marin sont les facteurs importants contribuant à la météorisation des pierres. Les résultats obtenus par cette étude pilote peuvent être utilisés comme guide pour les futurs travaux de restauration.



The authors would like to express their gratitude to the Ministry of Higher Education, Libya, for the support of the field work and laboratory studies. The authors are thankful to Dr. Farid Makroum, Mansoura University, Egypt, for the French translation of the abstract. The invaluable assistance of Dr. Tarek Anan, Mansoura University, is gratefully acknowledged. The paper was substantially improved by critical comments and through revision by two anonymous reviewers, to whom we are most grateful.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geology, Faculty of ScienceMansoura UniversityMansouraEgypt
  2. 2.Earth and Environmental Sciences Department, Faculty of ScienceAl-Mergib UniversityAl-KhumsLibya

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