The British Institute for Libyan & Northern African Studies was founded (as the Society for Libyan Studies) in 1969. Its aims are to encourage and co-ordinate scholarship on Libya and Northern Africa and to foster relations between scholars in the region and those working outside the region.

In this regard, it seeks through its activities to:

support and undertake research relating to the history, antiquities, culture, languages, literature, art, institutions, customs and natural history of Libya and Northern Africa; and to organise and promote missions to the region for these purposes

cooperate with other organisations sharing the same fields of interest

arrange for the publication of research in these fields

hold lectures and meetings for members of the Institute and other interested parties

publish an annual Journal (‘Libyan Studies’) and other publications which enhance and promote public knowledge of all aspects of Libyan and northern African culture and society

BILNAS is governed in accordance with rules first adopted in 1969 and subsequently modified in 1974, 1982, 2010 and 2022. The Institute is sponsored by the British Academy and is recognised by the Charity Commission as an unincorporated association.

The Importance of Libya

Since its foundation (as the Society for Libyan Studies) in 1969, BILNAS has sponsored a variety of projects in Libya and Northern Africa across subject areas including archaeology, education, geography, geology, history and Islamic law.

Libya and the Northern African region have always been the focus of human civilisation and development, as witnessed by the Libya’s five sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List. However, the region’s heritage encompasses a much older record of human activity extending for hundreds of thousands of years.

Hitherto, BILNAS has concentrated on supporting long-term archaeological projects and their subsequent publication, including excavations and surveys at Euesperides (Benghazi), Sidi Khrebish (Berenice), Cyrene, Lepcis Magna and in the Fezzan. Recent projects have included a multi-disciplinary survey in the pre-desert valleys of Tripolitania, Islamic excavations at Barca (El Merj) and Medinet Sultan, and the publication of excavations conducted at Sabratha and Lepcis Magna in the 1950s.