Sonia Halliday

Rising near the sea on the site of an even more ancient Punic cemetery, the magnificent theater of Leptis Magna was built in the early years of the Common Era by the Punic nobleman Annobal Rufus. A three-story-high stage front embellished with Corinthian columns and niches for statues was added in the mid-second century C.E. Another three-story-high exterior wall decorated with pilasters enclosed the semi-circular sweep of banked limestone benches. The best seats in the house—couches placed on the six shallow steps rising from the orchestra—were reserved for local dignitaries and magistrates.