Volubilis - Roman city Ruins


Volubilis

Volubilis (in Berber : Walili, in Arabic: وليلي‎) is an old Roman city ruins in Morocco situated near a small town called "Idris Zarhoun" near Meknes,



In its maximum extension, marked by a wall built in 168-169 AD, Volubilis occupied a total area of 42 hectares. The site is crossed from the east by the Fertassa river and bordered from the south and from the west by the Khoumane river.
The town wall that surrounded the city had numerous semicircular towers, 7 gates and 2 small doors, the main gate with three openings to the north-west and the gate with two openings facing the west; but the other dors had only one opening. All gates were framed by semicircular towers.
The excavations that began in 1915 in the Volubilis site have so far allowed the uncovering of the monumental area, south area, east neighborhoods, and Temple B, which is the only monument discovered east of the Fertassa river. The western district of Volubilis whose extension is close to 16 hectares has been little explored.
Before reaching the development in the second century, Volubilis, during the mauretanian periodn attested from the late 2nd century and especially from the 1st century BC, occupied a smaller area. The monuments that are dated in this period are mainly religious or of burial purposes.
During the Roman period as some earlier buildings were preserved (temples B, G, and H), other new monuments were built over the mauritanian city (Forum, Capitol, Basilica, Baths of Gallienus). New neighborhoods emerged, including the most well-known residential area called "northeast area".
Between the end of the third century, date of the Romanevacuation of the city, and the beginning of the eighth century, a new fortified urban development in the Western part of Volubilis city arose while the eastern parts of the Roman city were abondoned. And it is this cluster of houses which was Islamized during the 8th century and which hosted Idris 1n founder of the Idrissid dynasty.


Long History:
Volubilis covers more than 10 centuries of history. Volubilis' first settlement dates back to the 2nd century BC. Its area, surrounded probably by a wall that didn't enclose the entire city, was estimated to be twelve hectares.
After the assassination of king Ptolemy, ordered by Emperor Caligula, and the consequent annexation of the Kingdom of Mauritania to the Roman Empire in 42 AD, Volubilis' status was elevated to a municipality. A city wall which enclosed an area of forty hectares was built. The area was redeveloped and the monumental Triumphal Arch was erected.
In 285 AD the Roman government and army evacuated Volubilis. Its inhabitants withrew towards west to defend their city. Some stone inscriptions, dated between 599 and 655 AD and found in the vicinity of the Triumphal Arch, testify to the Christianization of the population.
Before the arrival of Idriss 1st Volubilis and its surrounding region were already converted to Islam.
Idriss 1st found shelter in Maghreb al-Aqsa (nowadays Morocco), in Walila (Volubilis), where the chief of the Aourabas tribe welcomed. Idriss 1st founded the idrissid dynasty with Walila as capital before his assassination in 175 of the hegira (Muslim calendar)/791 AD. According to El Bakri, Waliila was still a cluster of small villages during the 11th century, and it was able to survive just until the Merinid period.

Tribes populating Volubilis and its region:
Ancient Greek and Latin text sandstone inscriptions allow us to identify the numerous tribes of Mauretania Tingitana but without identifying their precise location.
The inhabitants of Volubilis are called Volubilitani. The Macenite and Baquate tribes occupied the east and south territories of the city reaching the Middle Atlas mountains. The Bavares tribe, that was associated with the Baquates tribe in negociations with the governor of Mauretania Tingitana in 200 AD, probably occupied the Moroccan-Algerian Mediterranean coastal areas.
The tribes were governed by kings or princes (rex gentis or princeps gentis) and usually formed confederations similar to those unifying the Baquates to the Macenites or to the Bavares.

 
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