Travel back to the 3rd century BC as photographer Peter West Carey brings these ancient sites back to life through his photography.
Written by Peter West Carey
A visit to the archaeological sites of Volubilis and Moulay Idriss Zerhoun — a 45 minute drive from the train station in Meknes in north central Morocco — is to step into a deep well of history in Northern Africa.
Islam found its start in Morocco, and indeed the start of Morocco itself as a unified state began in the ancient town of Volubilis. The fertile valley around the now ruined city has been inhabited for more than 5000 years, including a far-reaching arm of the Roman Empire, which crafted most of the buildings and foundations found at what today is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here, a city of grand, triumphant arches and intricate mosaics lasted for more than two hundred years until it fell to local tribes near the end of the 3rd century AD.
Five hundred years later, Arab leader Moulay Idriss I unified Morocco and started its capital in Volubilis, but his reign lasted only three years before he was assassinated. His son, Idriss II, continued his plan to move the capital to the new town of Fes, while Volubilis continued to fall into disrepair. In the 14th century Moulay Idriss I’s remains were moved to a new mausoleum in the nearby city of Moulay Idriss Zerhoun, now considered by Muslims to be one of the most holy sites in Morocco.
But words can only tell one part of this rich history. You need to see the archaeology to begin to grasp what once stood proudly on this site.
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