Archaeological Site of Volubilis (1997)

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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 Idriss. 

French Morocco 1917. Roman Ruins of Volubilis. The stamp was re-issued in 1924.

French Morocco 1950. Semi Postal. Air Post. Arch of Triumph of Caracalla at Volubilis.

Volubilis was a Roman settlement constructed on what was probably a Carthaginian city, dating from 3rd century BC. Volubilis was a central administrative city for this part of Roman Africa, responsible for the grain producing in this fertile region, and exports to Rome. Volubilis was also administering contacts with the Berber tribes which the Romans never managed to suppress, but who only came as far as to cooperate with the Romans for mutual benefits. 

The Ruins of Volubilis, photographed by the webmaster in spring 1967.  

Unlike so many other Roman cities, Volubilis was not abandoned after the Romans lost their foothold in this part of Africa in the 3rd century. Even the Latin language survived for centuries, and was not replaced before the Arabs conquered North Africa in the late 7th century. 

People continued to live in Volubilis for more than 1,000 years more. Volubilis was first abandoned in the 18th century, when it was demolished in order to provide for building materials for the construction of the palaces of Moulay Ismail in nearby Meknes. If that demolishing had not arrived, Volubilis could have become one of the best preserved Roman sites anywhere. 
  • Morocco 1918. The Marabout of Moulay-Idriss, the burial place of Idriss I, the founder of the Moroccan Idrissid Dynasty. 

In its justification for inscription the UNESCO states that this site is an exceptionally well preserved example of a large Roman colonial town on the fringes of the Empire.

Sources and links: 

Recommended Publication: 

Other World Heritage Sites in Morocco (on this web site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Morocco section, for further information about the individual properties. 

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Revised 20 jul 2006  
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