Document Reference NumberD17
TitleEl Merj Expeditions.
DescriptionCorrespondence, subcommittee documents, field notes and notebooks, context forms, reports, financial material, secondary sources, drawings, maps, plans and photographs pertaining to excavations and fieldwork carried out at El Merj, which was thought to be the site of Barqa (also spelled Barce, Barca and Barka).

The records within the collection primarily relate to the expeditions carried out in 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1993.

John Dore was a prominent participant and organiser of the El Merj expeditions and the collection heavily reflects his involvement in the work carried out at the Cyrenaican site. Graeme Barker, G.D.B. "Barri" Jones, John A. Lloyd, James C. Thorn and Susan Walker also feature prominently within the collection. Records are present relating to the teams involved in the fieldwork, including

The expeditions resulted in the publication of multiple reports on progress and findings; the collection features reports on each individual season of fieldwork carried out at El Merj during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Date1971 - 2003
Extent9 boxes; 52 files and 48 items.
ArrangementThe collection has been arranged into fifteen format-based series;

1. El Merj Subcommittee Meetings
2. Correspondence
3. Expedition Notebooks
4. Field and Survey Notes
5. Context Forms
6. Pottery Catalogues
7. Photo Records
8. Expedition Reports
9. Expedition Personnel
10. Finance
11. Secondary Sources
12. Finds Drawings
13. Maps and Plans
14. Miscellaneous Dore Files
15. Photographs
AdminHistoryIn 1989 the Society for Libyan Studies, in conjunction with the Libyan Department of Antiquities, organised an expedition to El Merj, which was believed to be the site of the historical site of Barqa.

This initial expedition was followed by several more seasons of fieldwork carried out in 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1993.

These expeditions bolstered Dore's opinion that El Merj was the site of Barqa, arguing in 1994:

"The broad outline of the case is as follows: a town called Barqa is mentioned by a considerable number of medieval authors writing in Arabic. To judge from them the town flourished between the ninth and eleventh centuries AD but declined thereafter. The association of the names Barqa and El Merj with a single site seems to stem from one author, Ibn Sa 'id, writing in the thirteenth century, though even he is tentative in his identification... After the fourteenth century there is a period which is devoid of information. By the eighteenth century the town(s) of Barqa/El Merj had disappeared (i.e. ceased to be inhabited) but local memory preserved the name and location of El Merj because Pacho visited its ruins and recorded the name in 1825... About twenty years after this a new town called El Merj began to grow up around a castle newly built by the Ottoman authorities on the remains of an earlier town. This town was called Barce by the Italians but reverted to being called El Merj after the second world war, and was finally destroyed by an earthquake in 1963."

( J. N. Dore (1994). Is El Merj the Site of Ancient Barqa?: Current Excavations in Context . Libyan Studies, 25, pp 265-274.)
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