Nothing beats silence and tranquility at the Sijilmasa archaeological site, and behind the curtain of silence the ruins and remnants of mud walls scattered speak of an ancient and ancient city that was buried underground, and still despite the successive excavations, all its secrets have not yet been revealed.
Next to the city of Rissani – which is about 550 km from Rabat – extends the archaeological site of Sijilmasa, which recounts the tale of the second city built in the Islamic West after Kairouan, which had a strategic importance that it gained from its location, which connected trade caravans between Morocco and sub-Saharan Africa, between Eighth and fourteenth century AD, before turning into ruin. Read also Including
Since registering a national heritage 4 years ago, the Moroccan Ministry of Culture has been working in vigorous steps to restore the consideration of this site, through a number of measures aimed at transforming it into a national and international tourist destination, and defining its archaeological and architectural value for the Moroccan historical memory.
A civilized center
Historians believe that the city of Sijilmasa was built in 757 AD to become the capital of Bani Medrar, the outer Zero, which is the first emirate in the Far Maghreb independent of the caliphate in the East, and an important cultural, agricultural and commercial center.
According to the book of the teacher of Morocco, the city contained beautiful buildings that Ibn Hawqal compared to the buildings of Kufa, and others emphasized the beauty of its architectural features.
Many historians and travelers have described it in their books, including the two ministries of San al-Din ibn al-Khatib, in his book “Selection criterion in mentioning institutes and homes,” as he described it as “the mother of countries, adjacent to the borders of Sudan, so she refers to her – by dirt – the caravans, and she guides to her mihrab of redundancy and luxury. It is fascist, and the nashfi al-Hilal is a nashiyya.
The archaeological site of Sijilmasa is of historical importance, according to Al-Jazeera Net Abd al-Rahman Ahmidani, director in charge of managing the Alawite Studies and Research Center in Rissani.
This is attributed to the fact that it includes vivid evidence of great urban prosperity in the medieval era that had a great role in politics and economy, as it was the starting point for some of the countries that ruled Morocco (the Alawites) and the restoration of security in them was evidence of the power of the ruling state and its distance from the risks of downfall and deterioration.
It also confirms its commercial role, as it was a vital crossing point for trans-North African trade, whether it is coming or heading to the Orient or the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa.
In addition to its fame in its commercial activity and the association of its name with the desert trade, it was known for its abundance of agricultural production and the quality of its woolen and mineral products, which confirms that it was not just a transit station, but an important production pole that provided merchants with their needs of goods that are popular and popular in the desert markets.
Excavations for decades
Under the rubble, Sijilmasa aroused the curiosity of researchers and archaeologists. Since the seventies of the last century, Moroccan, Italian and American scientific missions have followed it in an attempt to investigate its depths and give a clear picture of what Sijilmasa was.
Ehmedani says that the archaeological site of Sijilmasa revealed a large number of antiquities and secrets, most of which are engineering constructions buried under the rubble of earth (houses, basins, channels), in addition to a large number of pottery pieces dating back to different periods of history, and they differ in terms of the degree of perfection in the industry and in terms of Sizes and numbers.
Among the findings of the archaeological research is a track for the minbar next to the mihrab in the mosque, some of its walls are still standing, and the archaeological site Sijilmasa serves as a reservoir for archaeological evidence of history.
According to Ahmidani, the site complements what was brought by the texts in the books of historians, travel writers and writers by filling what was left out of the void, and confirming or refuting the narratives based on what he provides to the archaeological researcher of historical material evidence, and adds to this its current importance of being a lever for local development if it is well employed. In connection with cultural and heritage tourism.
Its culture collapsed and survived
History professor Lahcen Tausicht reveals – in a scientific paper entitled “Archaeological Research at Sijilmasa Site, Preliminary Outcome and Problems” – that the Sijilmasa site underwent several structural changes during different eras and even after the destruction of the city.
He adds, “The Fatimids burned it, and the Almoravids destroyed it before controlling it, and the Almohads attacked it forcefully, and the Marinids called it the catapult, and it was the scene of many revolutions and conflict between rulers and princes, and in the end its inhabitants revolted against the Marinids’ factor in it, which signaled its end, as its buildings were destroyed and the inhabitants deserted them to settle in the suburbs.” “.
Despite the collapse of the city and its destruction, its culture, the lifestyle of its inhabitants and its architectural style did not disappear. Rather, its residents carried it with them wherever they were distributed in the various Tafilalet regions, and this appeared in the buildings and reeds that kept the same design style and building materials based on brick or mud architecture, which is the architectural style that did not It continues today in the region.
Since its registration in the National Heritage List in 2017, the Ministry of Culture has worked to rehabilitate the historic Sijilmasa site, where it has begun archaeological and preventive operations to protect and maintain the site and include it within the tourist itineraries by improving its reception services and marketing it as a global tourist destination.
The Ministry of Culture presented a program for a center for the definition of the site’s heritage and antiquities, based on modern architectural and archaeological heritage documentation techniques, and a program for archaeological research at the site with the aim of enabling researchers to benefit from research, excavation and publishing work on the site, and to introduce its archaeological and architectural value to the national historical memory.