Volubilis was a Roman settlement constructed on what was probably a Carthaginian city, dating from 3rd century BC. Volubilis was a central administrative city for this part of Roman Africa, responsible for the grain producing in this fertile region, and exports to Rome. Volubilis was also administering contacts with the Berber tribes which the Romans never managed to suppress, but who only came as far as to cooperate with the Romans for mutual benefits.

Unlike so many other Roman cities, Volubilis was not abandoned after the Romans lost their foothold in this part of Africa in the 3rd century. Even the Latin language survived for centuries, and as not replaced before the Arabs conquered North Africa in the late 7th century.

People continued to live in Volubilis for more than 1,000 years more. Volubilis was first abandoned in the 18th century, when it was demolished in order to provide for building materials for the construction of the palaces of Moulay Ismail in nearby Meknes. If that demolishing had not arrived, Volubilis could have become one of the best preserved Roman sites anywhere.

The main area of Volubilis, and the only area that really attracts visitors, Moroccans and foreigners, is no more than 800 x 600 metres (measured by the walls). And if you carry a good guide book, none of the guides at the gate is needed. Much of the best excavations have been moved to the Archaeological Museum close to the royal palace in Rabat, but Volubilis offers ruins of quite good quality, and about 30 high quality mosaics that still stand in their original place.

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