Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Lixus - Ancient Site to Open to the Public

The Ministry of Culture and Communication has announced the opening of the archaeological site of ancient Lixus. It will open to the public in April

The city of Lixus is the oldest archaeological site in Morocco and one of the oldest Phoenician establishments in the western Mediterranean. It is located north-east of Larache, a city on the Atlantic Ocean between Rabat and Tangier, on the right bank of the Lokos River.

The ministry said that the archaeological site “is of historical importance and exceptional value.” The ministry spent MAD 10 million to build barriers around the site and create a centre to introduce its heritage.

The visitor centre

The statement added that the ministry has spent an additional MAD 1.8 million to establish stores for antique pieces, a conference hall, and a reception space, as well as improving and preparing routes to access the site and valuing its components.

The ministry partnered with the Italian embassy, the Italian Agency for Cooperation and Development (AICS), and the University of Siena to carry out the works.

The site’s opening is within the framework of Heritage Month, held every year from April 18 to May 18.

Lixus is an Amazigh (Berber) name that means “golden apples” in Arabic.

According to historical sources, the city of the “golden apples” was built in 1180 B.C. by an Amazigh King of the ancient kingdom of Mauretania. The city experienced major development during the reign of Amazigh King Juba II during the 1st century B.C.

Lixus was settled by the Phoenicians in the 8th or 7th century BC and was later controlled directly from Carthage. It was part of a chain of Punic towns along the Atlantic coast of modern Morocco; other major settlements further to the south are Chellah (called Sala Colonia by the Romans) and Mogador. When Carthage's empire fell to Rome during the Punic Wars, Lixus, Chellah, and Mogador became outposts of the province of Mauretania Tingitana.

Lixus flourished during the Roman Empire, mainly when the emperor Claudius (AD 41-54) established the province of Africa with full rights for the citizens. Lixus was one of the few Roman cities in Berber Africa that enjoyed an amphitheater. In the third century, Lixus became nearly fully Christian and there are even now the ruins of a Paleochristian church overlooking the archaeological area

The Muslim invasions destroyed the Roman city. Some Berber life was maintained for about a century after the Islamic conquest of North Africa, attested by the presence of a mosque and a house with a patio with walls covered with painted stucco.

Fish paste processing vats for making "garum"

Most of Lixus has not been excavated, and only between 10 and 20 percent of the area has been uncovered.

According to UNESCO data, the site of Lixus is one of the most important sites that Morocco has succeeded in including in the World Heritage List. Lixus joined the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Morocco in 1995.

See Suzanna Clarke's photo essay on her visit to Lixus CLICK HERE


No comments: