Archaeologists Unearth New Ruins at Chellah, an Ancient Port City near Rabat


Summary: Archaeologists in Morocco have discovered new ruins at Chellah, an ancient port city near Rabat. The findings include thermal baths and working-class neighborhoods, providing insights into the city’s past as a bustling trading site. The site, which is larger than the well-known ruins of Volubilis, is believed to have been settled by the Phoenicians and later became an important Roman outpost. The discoveries, including a statue of a woman and a limestone neighborhood, have excited scholars and officials who hope to attract more tourists to the area.

New Discoveries at Chellah

Archaeologists from Morocco’s National Institute of Archaeological Sciences and Heritage have announced new discoveries at Chellah, an ancient port city near Rabat. The site, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, covers a large area and includes thermal baths and working-class neighborhoods. These findings provide insights into the city’s history as a bustling port and trading center.

Historical Significance

Chellah is believed to have first been settled by the Phoenicians and later became a key outpost of the Roman empire from the second to fifth century. The ruins, located near the Atlantic Ocean along the Bou Regreg river, showcase the city’s wealth and importance as a trading site. The discovery of bricks with inscriptions in neo-Punic, a language predating the Romans’ arrival in Morocco, further confirms the historical significance of the area.

Expansion of Excavation Site

The main excavation site at Chellah has been closed for renovations due to the pandemic. However, archaeologists have been working on expanding the site since March of this year. The extended site, presented to the public recently, is larger in size than the ruins at Volubilis, which is a popular tourist attraction located 111 miles east of Rabat.

Importance of Waterfront Location

According to Abdelaziz El Khayari, a professor of pre-Islamic archaeology, the significance of Chellah lies in its location on the water. This made it an important trading site, facilitating the exchange of materials such as Italian marble and African ivory. While the actual port has not yet been discovered, the new excavations highlight the city’s wealth and potential as a hub for trade and commerce.

Uncovering New Artifacts

The recent excavations at Chellah have revealed previously unstudied areas of the city. Archaeologists showcased a recently discovered statue of a woman, potentially a deity or empress, draped in cloth. This is the first such statue found in Morocco since the 1960s. Additionally, they exhibited a neighborhood made of limestone and sunbrick, providing further insights into the daily life of the city’s residents.

Tourism Potential and Investment

Mehdi Ben Said, Morocco’s minister of youth, culture, and communication, expressed confidence in the ruins’ potential to attract tourists. The proximity of Chellah to the capital city of Rabat is expected to be a draw for both domestic and international visitors. The department has already invested a significant amount in the project and plans to increase funding each year until the excavation is complete. The goal is to develop the site, enhance marketing and communications, and increase visitor numbers to one million per year.

Tags: Archaeology, Chellah, Ancient Port City, Morocco, Tourism, Trading Site, Excavations, Historical Discoveries, Tourist Attraction