The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Friday, September 21, 2018


Morocco's ancient city of Volubilis rises again
A tourist walks through the ruins of the ancient Roman site of Volubilis, near the town of Moulay Idriss Zerhounon in Morocco's north central Meknes region, on July 25, 2018. Situated in the centre of a fertile plain at the foot of Mount Zerhoun, the towering remains of Morocco's oldest Roman site, Volubilis, were long neglected. But after decades of looting and decay, custodians of the now closely guarded ancient city are turning the page and attracting back tourists. FADEL SENNA / AFP.

by Hamza Mekouar


MOULAY DRISS ZERHOUN (AFP).- Situated in a fertile plain at the foot of Mount Zerhoun, the sprawling remains of Morocco's oldest Roman site -- Volubilis -- have survived pillage and long periods of neglect.

After decades of decay, however, custodians of the now closely guarded ancient city have turned the page and are bringing back the tourists.

The site, nestled among olive groves near the city of Meknes, boasts a new museum and visitor centre and has been attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors.

They stroll along the main artery lined with porticoes and the remnants of vast mansions, whose mosaic floors testify to a prosperous past.

A triumphal arch, a classic symbol of Roman architecture, sits at the top of what once was the main compound.

Known in Arabic as "Oualili", the city was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997.

The ancient city has "known several civilisations, from the Mauritanian era to the Romans through the Islamic period", according to Mohamed Alilou, topographer and assistant conservator of the site.

Volubilis was founded in the third century BC by a Moorish community, before being annexed by the Roman Empire in 42 AD.

At its peak, it would have counted up to 15,000 inhabitants.

Threatened by civil wars across the empire, the Romans evacuated the city in 285. It didn't regain its splendour until the arrival of Arab conquerors in the seventh century.

In the eighth century when the Idrisid dynasty erected the city of Fez as its new capital, Volubilis fell once more into disuse.

Bacchus gone missing
At the end of the 17th century, Sultan Moulay Ismail sent thousands of slaves to plunder Volubilis's marble columns for the construction of his palace in Meknes.

"On the track leading from Volubilis to Meknes, we found capitals (of columns) abandoned by slaves, who fled when they learnt that Moulay Ismail was dead," said Alilou, who has been watching over the site for more than 30 years.

Excavations at Volubilis began in 1915, along with research programmes and restoration work.

But renewed interest in the site brought with it looting, especially during the period of French colonial rule from 1912 to 1956.

One particularly striking case in 1982 made headlines when a marble statue of Bacchus -- the Roman god of wine -- disappeared.

In a desperate bid to find the relic, King Hassan II dispatched gendarmes who "interrogated, abused and beat" peasants who "didn't know Bacchus from Adam and Eve", according to Moroccan press reports.

The effort was in vain and the statue was never found.

"The people here are still traumatised," said a resident of nearby Moulay Driss Zerhoun.

Moroccan media frequently warn that the country's heritage -- archeological finds, mosaics and ancient coins -- is being looted.

But in Volubilis, Alilou says that looting is a thing of the past.

Today "the site is fenced off and well guarded", he said. "We have a team of 14 guards who work day and night, cameras are everywhere."

Mustafa Atki, another Volubilis conservator, said the whole issue of looting was "sometimes exaggerated".

Since the opening of its museum in 2013, the ancient city has attracted several hundred thousand visitors a year.

"In 2017, for the first time we past the 300,000 mark," said Atki.

Alilou said the ancient city covering 42 acres (17 hectares) has yet to reveal all of its secrets.

"A third of the site, especially the western quarter built in the Islamic era, has not been excavated," he said.


© Agence France-Presse





Today's News

August 7, 2018

First North American co-occurrence of hadrosaur and therizinosaur tracks discovered

Morocco's ancient city of Volubilis rises again

Smithsonian releases its third installment of Second Opinion: "The State of the Arts in 21st-Century America"

Robert Redford 'retiring from acting' at 81

"Poster passion" leads to records at Swann; Mucha's Times of the Day top lot in August sale

Toby Kamps joins White Cube as Director of External Projects

Funeral set for Israel's only Oscar-winning director Moshe Mizrahi

Multimedia exhibition features never-before-seen photographs of historic sites

Aspen Art Museum raises over $2.5 million at 2018 ArtCrush Summer Benefit

Sarah Bailey Hogarty appointed Director of Marketing and Communications of The Contemporary Jewish Museum

2018 Seattle Art Fair concludes 4th year with high engagement and permanent gifts to city

Reynolda's centennial marketing campaign wins top award in the southeast, inspires tattoos

New season of film at Tate Modern

1929 Bentley 4 1/2 litre 'Le Mans' style tourer for sale with H&H Classics

Bauhaus Dessau Foundation to hold symposium and exhibition

Nam June Paik Award 2018 shortlist announced

In the Manner Of to offer paintings attributed to Van Gogh, Warhol, Picasso, Corot, and Modigliani

Enormous 'lightning bolt' gold nugget - rarer than any diamond - to bring $100,000 at auction

After 'Mary Shelley', pioneering Saudi female director keen to film back home

Significant gift of major works by Mervyn Williams on view at the Sarjeant

Last chance to see: Exhibition of paintings by British artist Celia Paul at the Yale Center for British Art

Sydney Architecture Festival 2018 announces program

London Design Biennale selects Studio INI installation for central courtyard exhibit at Somerset House

PHOTOFAIRS / Shanghai 2018 announces a challenging public program

Workable tips on selecting a degree of your dream

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- New photographic book explores the provocative works of Rodin, Schiele and Picasso

2.- Spanish sculptures get kitschy colours in another botched restoration

3.- Van Gogh was murdered claims new film at Venice

4.- Raging fire tears through Rio de Janeiro's treasured National Museum

5.- Musée national Picasso-Paris opens exhibition of masterpieces by Pablo Picasso

6.- National Gallery of Art opens major exhibition of Corot's paintings of women

7.- RYAN LEE opens Indigenous Woman, a solo exhibition by Martine Gutierrez

8.- Flowers Gallery appoints new Gallery Director Jennifer Francis to lead global operations

9.- Bavarian authorities return priceless eighth century gold Sican mask to Peru

10.- Detroit Institute of Arts receives monumental Ursula von Rydingsvard sculpture



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez


Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org avemariasound.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful