Sonia Halliday

At the junction of Leptis Magna’s two main streets, a four-way triumphal arch (shown here) known as a quadrifrons, or tetrapylon, commemorates the 203 C.E. state visit of Roman emperor Septimius Severus (193‒211 C.E.). A marble frieze runs around the top of the structure, depicting a victory procession: Severus offers sacrifices in the presence of his wife, two sons and other onlookers. The scion of one of Leptis Magna’s greatest families, Severus adorned his home town with a new forum, basilica, colonnaded street and harbor. Determined to expand the empire, he led campaigns against Parthia, Syria and Egypt. After a period in Rome, he set out for Britain with his wife and sons to fight the Caledonians in Scotland. The invasion failed, and soon afterwards Severus died in York, far from sunny North Africa.