Prehistoric rock art in Morocco

Prehistoric rock art in Morocco

Cataloguing Rock Art in Morocco

Rock art is found throughout the Sahara, principally in the desert mountain and hill ranges, where stone ‘canvas’ is abundant: including the highlands of Adrar in Mauritania and Adrar des Ifoghas in Mali, the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and Algeria, the Tassili n’Ajjer and Ahaggar Mountains in Algeria, the mountainous areas of Tadrart Acacus and Messak in Libya, etc, as well as the length of the Nile Valley.

Explorations in the early twentieth century by celebrated travellers, ethnographers and archaeologists brought the rock art of the Sahara, and rock art in Morocco and northern Africa, to the awareness of a European public.

Rock art in Morocco (Ait Ouazik gazelle)

Since 2013, the British Museum has engaged in a project to study and catalogue the rock art images of Africa, including rock art in Morocco in both the Atlas mountains and the Sahara, digitally preserving African rock art, ensuring global open access well into the future. Their research provides new information and perspectives on the collection and the ancient and modern cultures it represents.

Please visit the British Museum’s website for more information, click here.

Rock Art in Morocco – the site of Ait Ouazik

More than 300 rock art sites have been documented in Morocco, mainly located in two areas: the High Atlas Mountains, and the Sahara desert region to the south and east. They comprise mainly engravings (as opposed to paintings), which could be up to 5,000 years old, and include domestic and wild animals, warriors, weapons and scenes of battles and hunting. Antelope and cattle are the most represented animals in Moroccan rock art, although elephants and rhinoceros are common. 921 images have been catalogued across the various sites.

Rock art in Morocco at Ait Ouazik (antelope)

One of the most renowned and well-preserved sites of rock art in Morocco is that at Ait Ouazik near Tazzarine/Zagora. Getting there involves at least a half day’s round-trip out of Zagora and some of that on piste (unsurfaced tracks). This can be combined with one of our longer tours to the desert.

Being in such a remote location you may find the site at Ait Ouazik to yourselves. There is a local guardian/caretaker who has taken a special interest in the rock art and shows visitors around. Over the years some stones have already been removed to use in construction down at the village and the guardian is ensuring no more are taken.

Rock art in Morocco (wheel)

We were captivated by the images carved on the stones and representation of animal life on the continent thousands of years ago (the Sahara desert is, after all, relatively young). The site lies in a broad, dry valley with occasional palm trees and Acacia trees providing verdant relief. It is easy to picture a greener landscape of savanna in this part of Morocco.

We hope you enjoy some of the images we took. If you’re at all interested in extending your tour in the south to visit the Ait Ouazik rock art site near Tazzarine/Zagora please let us know.

Rock art in Morocco at Ait Ouazik

Further images are on our highlights reel (rock art in Morocco) on Instagram.

 

The Spirit of Community in Morocco

The Spirit of Community in Morocco

Morocco’s culture and spirit of community

“So, what can I expect when I visit Morocco, tell me something more about Morocco’s culture?” It’s so close to Europe, yet so much further beyond in terms of culture and history. The Arabic name given for Morocco by medieval historians and geographers is ‘al-Maghrib al-Aqsa’, translated as furthest Westerly Kingdom (of the Maghreb countries, in North West Africa). Morocco is just 13km from mainland Spain, and even shares a land border with Spanish territory.

I would urge you to read something of my insight into Morocco’s culture. What follows is what you glean when living in a small community in Morocco, not from the books or the media, or from a short visit. We’ve previously touched on some of the cultural aspects in other blog posts, such as the tea ceremony, and social etiquette with greetings. The guide-books will also help you steer clear of any basic faux-pas, or you can certainly ask your driver/guide during your trip about Morocco’s culture.

Morocco's Culture and Spirit of Community

Use the below as a benchmark to guide your expectations of the Kingdom (and, certainly, of the warm welcome you can expect to receive!). Please do ask us about travelling during Ramadan, Eid al-Adha, and other religious festivities, as they can be quite magical times to visit the Kingdom and should not be ruled out as no-go periods. Such national holidays are a vital part of Morocco’s culture and if you get to experience them, so much the better.

Note: I first wrote this post about seven years ago. Since then, we’ve all gone through the covid pandemic and the devastating earthquake in September 2023. Without going in to detail, the overriding feeling I have taken is the sense of solidarity and support from within Morocco’s mountain communities and the country as a whole – the nation has each other’s backs, to put it bluntly! If that doesn’t speak volumes about Morocco’s culture and spirit of community then what does?…

Morocco's Culture

Morocco’s culture and spirit of community

  1. Gratitude and happiness are derived and enjoyed from what you have in life, not from that for which you yearn. In other words, you are content with your lot in life. Take pleasure from the simple things (such as the beauty of nature) and be thankful to God at all times.
  2. Treating a guest generously and selflessly. A Moroccan proverb says ‘The guest is always a guest, even if he stays for winter and summer’. Moroccans regard travellers and foreign residents as guests in their country and Moroccans take the safety of visitors as a point of honour.
  3. Charity begins at home and is then very much continued outside of the home. One of the pillars of Islam and embedded in Morocco’s culture/spirit of community.
  4. The ability to share freely, e.g. a small meal will always go a long way and a stranger is never allowed to go hungry. Often those who have the least to share, are the most generous.
  5. An open-door policy and acceptance, the knowledge that you are welcome in a stranger’s home, and at face value.
  6. The family unit is key and many generations still share the same home; this promotes selflessness. There may only be one bread-winner supporting a large family (and he will likely be your driver, guide, chef, support team). Respect for elders, especially your parents, is integral to Morocco’s culture.
  7. Knowing your neighbours and treating them as an extension of the family. You may have to call upon them in times of need. This also leads on to the fact that everyone knows each other’s business (good or bad!).
  8. Above all, bear in mind that underpinning all of this is the Muslim faith and the piety of Moroccans. Please ask us about travelling during Ramadan and Eid.
  9. Please see note above on solidarity and support from within.

Please contact us for any further insights in to Morocco’s culture and community spirit.

Please visit our Instagram feed for further images.

 

Our Top 5 Things to Do in Morocco

Our Top 5 Things to Do in Morocco

You can’t possibly do and see everything that Morocco has to offer in one trip. If you can experience our top 5 things to do in Morocco that will be eye-opening enough (and, hopefully, inspire you to visit us again).
(more…)