Moroccan archaeologists announced on Friday the discovery of the “first” ancient port district in Morocco, an extension of the Chellah (or Sala) site in Rabat, listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.
On the left bank of the Bouregreg river, excavations carried out by a team from the National Institute of Archeology and Heritage Sciences (INSAP) revealed a space paved in blue limestone, surrounded by buildings such as columns or a Incense altar used in religious rites.
“It is an important discovery insofar as it is the first time that we have found remains which attest to the presence of an ancient port district in Morocco,” indicated archaeologist Abdelaziz El Khayari, during a press visit to the site.
This port district could “date from the 1st or 2nd century AD of the Roman era”, according to Mr. Khayari, responsible for this project launched in April 2023. “We will continue research and excavations to determine the function of these buildings and their dating. But also to find other remains which could lead us to the port of Sala,” adds the expert.
A stone's throw from the port district, archaeologists have also made other discoveries linked to the ancient city. First, public baths “built no later than the beginning of the 2nd century AD.” and which “already cover an area of approximately 2,000 m2, which indicates that we are dealing with one of the largest thermal establishments in ancient Morocco,” according to a presentation from the Ministry of Culture.
But also, a new necropolis which dates from the 2nd century AD. It is “a columbarium with five niches which housed cinerary urns”, explained archaeologist Abdelaziz El Khayari. A section of the ancient city wall as well as a headless female statue were also unearthed. Morocco has several ancient sites, the most famous being the ruins of Chellah in Rabat and those of Volubilis, near Meknes (center).