Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Ancient Ruins of Volubilis, Morocco

Volubilis is a famous archaeological Site in Morocco. It was an ancient Roman city that has been discovered through excavating. It is located between Fes and Rabat near Meknes. Around 3rd century BC it was originated and it was under Phoenician settlement at the beginning time. The city expanded and developed under Roman rule from the beginning of the 1st century AD. The total area covered by Volubilis is 42 hectares.

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Back-ground history:

History says that the city of Volubilis was governed by the Roman Empire for almost 285 years. After that the local tribes of the city took the control of the city. The Roman Empire never tried to regain the control of the city as the city was far away from the Roman Empire. Afterwards the city was ruled by a Latinised Christian community and after that an Islamic settlement took the control of the city. The city was abandoned near 11th century. The debris of the city was unharmed until the devastating earthquake of the 18th century took place. During the period of French rule, the task of excavating the place started and it was continued afterwards that revealed many new information about the place.

Excavation and restoration: 

Larger portion of the city was excavated during the French governance over Morocco. The University College London took the project of excavating the place during 2000. The artifacts of the ruins are preserved in the Rabat Archaeological Museum. It was pronounced as a world heritage site by the UNESCO in 1997.


Before the Roman settlement the city was under Phoenician settlement. The area of the city was only 12 hectares then. So, the infrastructure of these 12 hectares represents the typical infrastructure pattern of Phoenician settlement. Influence of the Roman settlement is also remarkable in this aspect. This Roman city was surrounded by a mud wall that was 1.6 meters thick and 2.6 meters long.

Remarkable Establishments:

The main occupation of the people of Volubilis was to produce Olive Oil. The debris of the buildings those were used to pressing olives is still visible there. Among the other notable buildings that represent the history of the Volubilis city, the basilica and a triumphal arch are mentionable. There are some other establishments those have been discovered after excavating- like the mansions of the city’s elite.

The use of fine mosaics to build house is one of the most prominent features of this ancient city. Most of the establishments of this city are made of local quarried grey-blue limestone. The burial site of the ancient city is another notable place to visit. After excavating, some kind of religious structures have also been explored. A funerary monument and a monument to a Roman victory are other visible and remarkable establishments of the ancient Roman city, Volubilis.  The total city has not been excavated yet. So many mysteries are uncovered till now. When the city remains will be excavated fully and will be recovered completely, it may open a book of new history before us.

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