A team of Moroccan archaeologists and researchers discovered the first port neighborhood of the Roman age in Moroccoa historic building dating back to the 1st and 2nd century AD located in the historic precinct of the Chellah (ancient Roman city and necropolis) in Rabat.
The port neighborhood is part of the findings that came to light with the works that have been carried out since last March in the vicinity of the ancient city of Chellah, presented this Friday by archaeologists and the Ministry of Culture, and which, according to them, represents an important discovery of an extension of this city.
Among the findings is also a public thermal complex of almost 2,000 square meters (which could constitute the largest found in Morocco), niches representing funerary columbariums probably built at the same time and marble sculptures such as a headless Roman statue representing a female goddess.
Aziz el Khyariprofessor at the National Institute of Archeology and Heritage (INSAP), indicated during the presentation of the site that this discovery means that Chellah will join the three most important ancient cities in Morocco.
“We only knew five hectares of the ancient city of Chellah, now we have an entire ancient city beneath us to discover in an area of 300 hectares,” said the archaeologist in a meeting with the press from the site.
La Chellah is located near the Bouregreg river in Rabatan enclosure that dates back to the Mauretanian-Roman era between the 2nd century BC and the 6th century AD. It is currently surrounded by walls that date back to the Merinid period (13th century) and is one of the tourist destinations in the Moroccan capital.
The excavations carried out in recent months in the vicinity of the Chellah and near the left bank of the Buregreg allowed the discovery of a part of the port neighborhood in which they have also been found remains of altars and sanctuaries.
Khyari indicated that the upcoming excavations aim to uncover the ancient port of the city of Sala that probably dates back to the 1st century AD.
“We have never identified a port of these characteristics. This indicates that this ancient maritime city was open to Mediterranean trade and received imports from Greece, the Iberian Peninsula and other places,” said the archaeologist.
For his part, the Moroccan Minister of Culture, Mehdi Bensaidcalled the discovery “very important and impressive,” while adding that his department aims to increase the number of tourist visits to the Chellah to one million a year (instead of 500,000 currently).
“It is an important discovery since it is the first time that we have found vestiges that attest to the presence of an ancient port neighborhood in Morocco,” said the archaeologist. Abdelaziz El Khayariduring a press visit to the place.
“We are going to continue investigations and excavations to determine the function of these constructions and their dating. Also to find other vestiges that can lead us to the port of Salé,” adds the expert.
(With information from EFE and AFP)