The city appears to have been founded by Phoenician colonists sometime around 1100 BC, who gave it the Lybico-Berber name Lpqy. The town did not achieve prominence until Carthage became a major power in the Mediterranean Sea in the 4th century BC. It nominally remained part of Carthage's dominions until the end of the Third Punic War in 146 BC and then became part of the Roman Republic, although from about 200 BC onward, it was for all intents and purposes an independent city.

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