<< Our Photo Pages >> Chellah - Ancient Village or Settlement in Morocco

Submitted by C_Michael_Hogan on Wednesday, 31 October 2007  Page Views: 39664

Multi-periodSite Name: Chellah Alternative Name: Chella, Sala
Country: Morocco
NOTE: This site is 15.113 km away from the location you searched for.

Type: Ancient Village or Settlement
Nearest Town: Rabat
Latitude: 34.003990N  Longitude: 6.82391W
4Almost Perfect
3Reasonable but with some damage
2Ruined but still recognisable as an ancient site
1Pretty much destroyed, possibly visible as crop marks
0No data.
-1Completely destroyed
3 Ambience:
2Not Good
0No data.
5 Access:
5Can be driven to, probably with disabled access
4Short walk on a footpath
3Requiring a bit more of a walk
2A long walk
1In the middle of nowhere, a nightmare to find
0No data.
4 Accuracy:
5co-ordinates taken by GPS or official recorded co-ordinates
4co-ordinates scaled from a detailed map
3co-ordinates scaled from a bad map
2co-ordinates of the nearest village
1co-ordinates of the nearest town
0no data

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Chellah submitted by C_Michael_Hogan : Medieval Moorish ruins of Chellah with necropolis tower at the right. Note stork nests atop ruins. (Vote or comment on this photo)
Ancient Village or Settlement in Morocco

Chellah is considered to be the oldest known human settlement along the banks of the Oued Bou Regreg (Bou Regreg River). The site is perched dramatically above the fertile river plain of the estuarine portion of Oued Bou Regreg, two kilometres from its mouth at the Atlantic Ocean. The site is thought to have been originally a colony of Phoenician and Carthaginian exploration as early as the third century BC, but the earliest recognisable architecture dates from Roman occupation circa 40 AD. In any case, the site is one of the earliest clearly identifiable settlements of man in Morocco; the site is now at the edge of the city of Rabat, the present day capital of the Kingdom of Morocco. The analysis herein is based upon a review of extant literature and my on site examination of October, 2007.

ANCIENT HISTORY. The Phoenicians settled a number of sites in northern Morocco, with emphasis upon sea access. Somewhat further south along the Atlantic coast the Phoenicians also controlled the harbour at Essaouira and to the north developed Lixus (Rawlinson, 1889). Each of these Phoenician developments were selected for their natural ports and access to the preferred building material of Phoenicians in the form of large stones. When the Romans conquered northern Morocco they further developed the Chellah site, giving it the name ‘'Sala Colonia'‘ according to Ptolemy, (Ptolemy, 2nd c AD) from which the present name derives. The Romans brought Chellah to the status of a regionally significant port and thriving economic hub. In about 250 AD the Romans lost control of the site to native Berber tribesmen.

During the 12th century AD, a substantial fortress was erected at Chellah by the Almohad ruler, Abdul-Mu'min, in order to prepare the site as a base for attacks against Spain, at a time that Islamic influence over Spain was waning.. The fortress walls of that era are extant and form the perimeter of the current site. The Rabat regionas a whole, along with Chellah in particular, was mostly abandoned in the 13th century after the ascension to power by Fez. However between 1300 and 1600 AD, Rabat and Chellah were resettled by the Merinid Dynasty. Circa 1350 the Merinid sultan, Abu I-Hasan founded a mosque at Chellah, a zawiya and the magnificent extant principal gate. Abu I-Hasan was entombed within the Moorish part of the Chellah complex.

The Chellah site displays discrete components of Roman, medieval and Merinid style. Extant above ground structures testify to an expansive Roman settlement, including the Decumanus Maximus (or principal surface roadway), a forum, a monumental fountain, a triumphal arch, and a large number of other governmental, residential and commercial structures. Most impressive are the subterranean structures of drainage and appurtenant bathing facilities that allowed modern elements of urban water supply and wastewater collection. As you can see, nothing like this is built today, everything is meant to come down, or have information for people on the spot. Anyone is able to get a quick response code generator and pop QR codes anywhere, it is all a disposable existence these days.

The Roman elements stretch along the hillside southward toward the new city of Rabat, whilst the Moorish elements are found distinctly at the northern edge of the complex. Interestingly, the medieval fortress walls surround the entire complex, including the clearly Roman architectural elements, implying the Almohad Dynasty made use of the earlier Roman structures and subsurface drainage works. Exquisite Roman marble columns and statues, fashioned from Italian marble, and inscribed with clearly readable Latin legends, are found throughout the site. The most striking remnant is a headless white marble figure with an elegantly carved robe. A network of subterranean stone aqueducts, also constructed during the Roman era, is evident under both the residential and commercial districts. The enormous medieval stone fortress is flanked by two substantial towers, along with the necropolis of ornately decorated royal tombs. A three story medersa, or school, a library and two imposing minarets stand as evidence of the Merinid era.

MODERN SETTING. Chellah is situated in the Rabat-Salé-Zemmour-Zaer region of Morocco on the outskirts of the city of Rabat. A significant seismic event occurred affecting Chellah in the 18th century, producing massive destruction of the structures then extant on the site. In spite of this event there are presently Roman walls intact over six metres in height and Moorish structures intact at greater heights, including most of the original outer walls, as well as the complete necropolis tower. Currently the site is operated as a tourist venue with a moderate admission fee.

* Ptolemy, ‘'Geographica'‘, 2nd c AD
* George Rawlinson, ‘'History of Phoenicia'‘, Longmans, 583 pages (1889)
* Global Heritage site profile for Chellah

(This article is an original publication prepared for the Megalithic Portal by C. Michael Hogan)
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Chellah submitted by Armand : Site in Morocco (Vote or comment on this photo)

Chellah submitted by c_michael_hogan : (Vote or comment on this photo)

Chellah submitted by C_Michael_Hogan (Vote or comment on this photo)

Chellah submitted by Armand : Site in Morocco (Vote or comment on this photo)

Chellah submitted by Armand

Chellah submitted by Armand

Chellah submitted by Armand

Chellah submitted by Armand

Chellah submitted by Armand

Chellah submitted by Armand

Chellah submitted by Armand

Chellah submitted by Armand

Chellah submitted by Armand

Chellah submitted by c_michael_hogan : sub surface Roman ruins

Chellah submitted by C_Michael_Hogan : Roman marble carved robed figure , with ruins of building foundations.

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"Chellah" | Login/Create an Account | 1 comment
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Re: Chellah by Anonymous on Monday, 25 April 2016
In case of being interested, there is a spanish blog entry with a detailed map of Chellah and a gallery here:
Necrópolis de Chellah

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