Volubilis: A Roman Outpost in Morocco

Founded in the 3rd century BCE by the Carthaginians and later controlled by the Berbers (Amazigh), the fortified city of Volubilis became an important Roman outpost in the 1st century CE. Located near Meknes, between Fes and Rabat, it was the most distant North African outpost in the empire. The city remained a Roman stronghold until 285, when it was defeated by local tribes. It was inhabited through the 11th century. City structures remained substantially intact until 1755, when the earthquake that destroyed Lisbon, Portugal caused the collapse of Volubilis and other sites in North Africa. The city has been partially excavated and some reconstruction has been undertaken.

The Tingis Gate, northern-eastern entrance to Volubilis,168/169 AD. Volubilis had eight monumental gates. Notice the stork’s nest on the column. They are everywhere in Morocco.

Map of the Roman Empire. Volubilis is on the left side in Mauretania Tingitana. It is the largest and best-preserved Roman ruins in Morocco. It became a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1997.

The Decumanus Maximus, the east-west main street in the Roman expansion of the city. The Arch of Caracalla, heavily restored in the 1960s, is at the far end. The rich, fertile lands surrounding Volubilis produced olive oil and grains.
A panoramic view of some of the townhouses in the upscale area of the city. The wealthy residents had large peristyle houses, many with mosaic floors and private baths. Volubilis was a thriving city and an administrative center for the Roman Empire.

Volubilis is known for its well preserved, though in some cases heavily restored, mosaic floors found in the houses of the wealthy classes and in public and private baths. The subjects are generally mythological characters and stories, fantastic beasts or nature. I enhanced the colors in a couple of the photos below to really capture the image. In situ, the mosaics appear duller due to bright sun and deterioration due to the elements. The originals would have appeared brighter, like this first image.

House of Venus
House of Dionysus and the Four Seasons
House of Orpheus floor, one of the largest mosaics
Dolphin mosaic floor in the private baths of the House of Orpheus.
Detail from House of Orpheus mosaic
A section of a house.
Fertile fields of Morocco’s Jebel Zerhoun Plain supported Volubilis and supplied olive oil and wheat to much of the empire.
The Arch of Caracalla. The extensive reconstruction in the 1960s has been questioned.
The Capitoline Temple dedicated to Juno, Jupiter and Minerva, c. 218 CE.
The Basilica. Originally a judicial and administrative hall, it was later used as a church. Early 3rd century CE.
After the city was abandoned and following the earthquake, stone and architectural elements were pillaged for buildings in other cities, such as nearby Meknes.
The red bricks show areas of restoration or reconstruction.

One of my goals on this trip was to see if I could be happy using a cell phone camera when I traveled rather than hauling around my DSLR and a lens or two. I purchased a Samsung S22 Ultra and for the most part shot all my photos with it. Overall, I am pleased with the results though, even with four optical lenses on the phone, I miss the optical zoom on my main DSLR lens. The phone camera was especially handy when taking photos from a moving bus.

Wordless Wednesday World

Roman Forum Columns

Black & White Sunday: After and Before

Roman Nude

Nude statue along the avenue in Italica, a Roman settlement in Andalusia.

Join Paula’s Black & White Sunday: After and Before

Italica, the ruins of a Roman City in Spain

Founded in the 2nd century BC by Scipio, Italica was the first Roman settlement in Spain. It’s amphitheater, which seated 25,000, has served as a quarry for later structures, with little of its original marble surface still in place. Many of the pillars in the mosque in Cordoba came from Italica.

Color Your World 2017: Jungle Green

Not Quite Jungle Green in the Jungle

Temple Ruins, Ta Phrom, Ankgor, Siem Reap Region, Cambodia

Temple Ruins, Ta Phrom, Angkor, Siem Reap Region, Cambodia

Ruins of temple at Ta Phrom, Angkor, Siem Reap Region, Cambodia.

Jennifer’s 2017 Color Your World Challenge: Jungle Green

CCFC: Things That Are Rough

Built into the Bedrock

Falken Castle, Koingstein, Germany

Falken Castle, Koingstein, Germany

Sections of the stone battlements of the mid-14th century Falkenstein Castle (Burg Falkenstein) are built into the bedrock.  The ruins are found in Königstein im Taunus, Hesse, Germany.

CCFC: Things that are rough

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