Walili (Volubulis)

The Mauritanian capital, founded in the 3rd century B.C., became an important outpost of the Roman Empire and was graced with many fine buildings. Extensive remains of these survive in the archaeological site, located in a fertile agricultural area. Volubilis was later briefly to become the capital of Idris I, founder of the Idrisid dynasty, who is buried at nearby Moulay Idris.

Volubilis contains essentially Roman vestiges of a fortified municipium built on a commanding site at the foot of the Jebel Zerhoun. Covering an area of 42 hectares, it is of outstanding importance demonstrating urban development and Romanisation at the frontiers of the Roman Empire and the graphic illustration of the interface between the Roman and indigenous cultures. Because of its isolation and the fact that it had not been occupied for nearly a thousand years, it presents an important level of authenticity. It is one of the richest sites of this period in North Africa, not only for its ruins but also for the great wealth of its epigraphic evidence.

The archaeological vestiges of this site bear witness to several civilizations. All the phases of its ten centuries of occupation, from prehistory to the Islamic period are represented. The site has produced a substantial amount of artistic material, including mosaics, marble and bronze statuary, and hundreds of inscriptions. This documentation and that which remains to be discovered, is representative of a creative spirit of the human beings who lived there over the ages. The limit of the site is represented by the Roman rampart constructed in 168-169 AD. The features of the site reveal two topographic forms: a relatively flat sloping area in the North-Eastern part, the monumental sector and a part of the sector of the triumphal arch, where the Romans employed an urban hypodamian system, and a rougher hilly area covering the South and Western parts where a terraced plan was adopted. The vestiges bear testimony to diverse periods, from Mauritanian times when it was part of an independent kingdom, to the Roman period when it was a metropolis of the Roman province of Mauritania Tingitana, a period called the « dark ages » with towards the end a Christian era, and finally an Islamic period characterised by the founding of the dynasty of the Idrissids.

The archaeological site of Volubilis is an outstanding example of a town bearing witness to an exchange of influences since High Antiquity until Islamic times. These interchanges took place in a town environment corresponding to the boundary of the site, and in a rural area extending between the prerif ridges from Zerhoun and the Gharb Plain. These influences testify to Mediterranean, Libyan and Moor, Punic, Roman and Arab-Islamic cultures as well as African and Christian cultures. They are evident in the urban evolution of the town, the construction styles and architectural decorations and landscape creation.

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Walili - Volubulis

Volubilis is a partly excavated Berber and Roman city in Morocco situated near Meknas between Fes and Rabat and commonly considered as the ancient capital of the kingdom of Mauretania.