Morocco Arts and Archeology

Morocco North African state, of which it occupies the extreme western edge. It borders to the East and SE with Algeria and to the South with Western Sahara: purely conventional borders and for the most part straight; to the North it overlooks the Mediterranean and to the NW, broadly, the Atlantic Ocean; capital Rabat.


The oldest language spoken in Morocco was Libyan-Berber, while under Roman rule Latin was the language of culture, especially in urban centers. The Arab conquest introduced literary Arabic as a written language, and on the other hand gave rise to the spread of Arabic dialects also spoken among the Berber populations, largely Arabized. In Morocco there are some large Berber-speaking blocks (Rif, High Atlas, etc.), other exclusively Arabic-speaking groups, and bilingual groups.

For the literature of Morocco ➔ al-Maghrib.


As far as urbanization is concerned, little can be said of the phase preceding Romanization: a rather interesting case is Tamuda, a city founded around 200 BC by Punic colonists; important elements are also known in Volubilis, which is the main archaeological site in Morocco; the site of Thamusida was perhaps frequented since prehistoric times; Lixus was an ancient Phoenician settlement, datable to the end of the 2nd millennium BC; Sala too was originally a Phoenician port. Regarding the monumental typologies, the remains of the Thamusida walls, the walls of Sala and Tipasa are not negligible.. Among the honorary arches, the so-called Castle of the Pharaoh of Volubilis stands out. The forum constitutes, with its annexes, the focal point of every urban system, in which it is inserted with different structures and characteristics from time to time (Volubilis, Tipasa). Also for the temples the testimonies of Volubilis, Thamusida and Tipasa are interesting, while the place of worship among the most difficult to interpret in the whole world Roman is that of the acropolis of Lixus. In all the cities there are thermal facilities: a unicum is constituted by the Volubilis thermal baths, in which, next to the actual thermal complex, there was a conspicuous gymnastic department. There are not many buildings for entertainment in the region, but they offer a series of extremely interesting (Lixus, Tipasa). Rather exemplified is residential construction, which sometimes also includes productive sectors (Volubilis, Thamusida, Tipasa, Lixus). Regarding the figurative arts, the main sculptures and the main mosaics were found in Volubilis.


The first manifestations of Islamic art (➔ Islam) date back to the end of the 8th century, with the foundation of Fès, while traces of Hispano-Moorish art can be found with the Almoravids, active builders of religious and military buildings, founders of Marrakech (1062). The Almohads (12th century) continued its activity. Marrakech and Rabat had fortified walls, with majestic gates, the Qaṣba and important buildings. To the elements taken from Andalusia were added those of oriental origin. In the domes the use of ‘stalactite’ and pottery is introduced, both of Persian origin (formerly in northern Africa in the Qairouan mosque, in the 9th century). The Hispano-Moorish art, thus enriched, comes to original forms (capitals, Kutubiyya mosque; decorative sculptures in stone and wood; the admirable pulpits of the Qarawiyīn of Fez, of the Kutubiyya and of the Qaṣba mosque in Marrakech). Under the dominion of the Merinides (13th-15th century) the creative power diminished, but the architectures reached classical harmonies and proportions: the madrasa of Fès and the zawāyā (“houses of prayer”). The Merinides created Shella, a princely necropolis. Architectural activity, in decline at the end of the Merinid dominion, resumed in the second half of the 16th century. by the Sadiani sheriffs, with sumptuous constructions, a tradition continued like that of artistic craftsmanship (carpets, majolica, embroidery, goldsmiths). On the sidelines of the art of the city centers, Morocco has kept a properly Berber one, in the architecture of the southern areas, and in some local handicraft productions. Casablanca (from the 1920s) with its considerable development, reaffirmed by its sensitive commercial, industrial and financial role, catalyzes some initiatives on an urban scale (Arab League Park, 1918; Piazza Muḥammad V, designed by J. Marrast in 1920; Piazza delle United Nations, arranged at the beginning of the century and rethought in the 1950s) which are associated with more traditional architectural works (Ḥasan II Mosque, with a 175 m high minaret, by Morocco Pinseau, 1993). For Morocco culture and traditions, please check

Berber and Arab-Islamic cultures and relations with the Spanish and French Western world characterize modern art in Morocco (M. ibn ‛Alī Rabatī and Morocco Aḥmad Idrissī; F. Ḥasan). Many artists trained in Europe and the United States; stimulating was the activity of the Casablanca Group, due to the synthesis between local and Western elements (A. al-Šarqāwī; F. Balkāhiya, who directed the École des beaux-arts in Casablanca; Morocco Malaḥī, one of the founders of the Tangier Museum of Contemporary Art). In the sculpture, we highlight ‛Abd al-Ḥaqq Siǧilmāsī (monumental sculptures in Casablanca);B. Laẖḍar (inspired by the Berber culture); ‛Umar Yūsufī. Worthy of mention are the défilé actions of Morocco Qāttāri (b. 1966), who deals with the ambiguous situation of women, and Morocco Fatmī’s experiences of video art.

Morocco Arts