Volubilis was the Roman Empires' most remote base, the end of the imperial road....
Roman emperors dreamed of penetrating the Atlas but the Berber tribes were never effectively subdued.
Direct Roman rule lasted a little more than two centuries.
After the Romans, Volubilis had a gradual change. Latin was still spoken in the 17th century by locals (Berbers, Greeks, Syrians, Jews). Christian churched survived the coming of Islam & the city survived until the 18th century when its marbles was carried by slaves for the building of Moulay Ismail in Meknes.
Today, there rest the ruins of 2nd & 3rd century BC
the land is one of the most fertile in North Africa - Volubilis was a chief source of lions for the Roman Colosseum
Within two centuries they became extinct along with Barbary bears and elephants...
The most important findings have been taken to the Rabat Museum, but the mosaics remain in site, though affected but time and exposure to natural elements.
Did you know that because Volubilis was so far away from Rome its citizens didn't have to pay taxes! No wonder they could construct such wonderful buildings.
The structures were badly damaged in the Lisbon earthquake in 1755 and in later times the marble was used in the construction of nearby towns.
- Historical Travel
The mosaics of Volubilis
The mosaics of Volubilis are arguably the best preserved of any Roman site.
They decorated the floors of rooms according to the use of the room - Aphrodite taking a bath was in the bathroom!
The seasons mosaic was in a banqueting hall - one of the figures was Bacchus the God of wine.
The mosaics are best seen wet when all the dust has been removed.
- Historical Travel
Oualili or Volubilis
The name is Volubilis is Latin version of the name Oualili which is the name of Oleander flower. In arabic it is known as Daflah. This flower is still found abundantly in the area. The current site was very significant from a stratigic military point of view because it is located on a hill near Mt Zerhoun. The city is also flanked by 2 rivers, Khoumane and Fedrassa.
The city and the area was very important for Rome. The plains surrounding the city are fertile and supplied Rome not only with Olive and Wheat but also with Animals like Lions and Elephants used to fight with gladiators.
This site was used in recent times to film the last temptation of christ
General tips about the site
This site is open daily from 8-darkness. If you arrive by a car there is a guarded parking spot. The cost of admission is 10 dh only. If you do use a guide make sure that they are licensed and legitimate. A guide will cost you 120 dh. If you don't, it is going to be slightly difficult to make sence of the sight. Before you get to volubilis try and see all the pictuers that you can see. That is why I tried to take picture of every thing that I could later label. I did some reading but could not find much Pictures on the net. Kepp an Eye on small size signs, it is your best friend. There is little explanation in Arabic, English and French but they are better than nothing
The book I read was the rough guide and Lonely planet, with the former being slightly better in terms of content and map. If you arrive in the summer bring a hat and water. There is very little shade and the Restaurant is a rip off. with a guide it will take you more than an hour to see the site and another hour to wonder around. Without a guide you can spend 3-4 hrs.
labours of hercules House
This house is located on the main street. However the entrance is on the sideway. It has this name because the mosiac that show the 12 tasks of Hercules. beside the mosiac there are pillaers in the house
The tasks are:
Slay the Nemean Lion and bring back its hide.
Slay the Lernaean Hydra.
Capture the Ceryneian Hind.
Capture the Erymanthian Boar.
Clean the Augean stables in a single day.
Slay the Stymphalian Birds.
Capture the Cretan Bull.
Steal the Mares of Diomedes.
Obtain the Girdle of Hippolyte.
Obtain the Cows of Geryon.
Steal the Apples of the Hesperides.
Capture Cerberus, the guardian dog of Hades, and bring him back.
There are 58 oil-pressing places in town. Each one has the following: a mill for crushing the olives, a press composed of a counterweight, a cross bar, a pulley for the upright supports of the cross bar and a basin. These structures are found within a clearly defined working space.
The process is similar to elsewhere around the Mediterranean. The olive is crushed and paste is stacked in the centre of the press, and the weight is pressed down on top of the stack with the aid of the pulley. The oil running out of the press is channeled into the basin. At this point water is added, and the oil floats to the surface which then taken away. The basins were periodically emptied through run off channels.
The whole process is similar throughout the city. The big number is striking, as is their integration into most of the largest houses. One of the houses has actually 2 presses. Oil was clearly one of the major sources of wealth for the town.
The picture showes one of the olive press in a house that had 2 presses.
The Orphius House
This house is on your way to the Basilicus. Look at the ruins on yuur left hand before you get to the captial and you'll see it.
In Greek mythology Orpheus was the great musician and poet, his songs could charm wild beasts and can even move rocks and trees.
If you have time to see one house, this is the one to see. This house had its own Olive press and very close to a bath with cold and hot rooms. The house has very beautiful Dolphin Mosaic; also it has a mosaic of Amphitrite Chariot drawn by sea horse. Amphitrite is the Roman sea goddess. There is another Mosaic of Neptune Chariot being drawn by another sea creature. There is a stunningly beautiful animal mosaic is seen in tabilinium or study room
Walls, Gaits and the main street
The main street is called Decumanus Maximus. It extends from Tangier gate all the way to the west gait. This street passes beneath the triumphal arch. It used to be flanked by shops and houses along its course along with an aqeduct. The city walls were built during the reign of Marcus Aurelius in 168. At that time the city had 8 gates. The walls stretche for 2.5 km and has a width of 1.5 m and height of 3 meters with nearly 40 towers. Another wall was built by Mouly idress to separate the Roman city from the Newer Muslim town.
Acqueduct and Fountain
The aqueduct was built at 60 AD and was constantly renovated and restored throughout its history. It would get it water supply from a water tank near the Tangier Gate. This aqueduct will supply all the houses and Bathes before it ends up at the public fountain. There please notice the impression that was made in the fountain wall so people can wash their clothes
Volubilis possesses four baths: the large baths of Gallienus, the baths of the Capitol, the northern baths and the baths of the House of the Cistern. These buildings are big and were made to accomediate a big number of people. Steam from an ovens will pass through espicailly made pipes through the walls will lead to the circulation of the air.
A typical Bath will have an entrance leading to changing room (apodytermium). from there people will proceed to cold room (frigidarium) than the into a warm room (tepidarium) and through it into the hot rooms (caldaria, laconica), where people would stay until a sweat had been worked up. This will bef ollowed by a scrap off with an instrument called a striglium. The bather then returned to the cold room, to realx in baths.
The Bath in the picture is the one near the Orpheus. You can see the oven below the street level.
House of Columns and the house of knights
These are 2 houses next to each other at the bigening of the main street if you are heading towards Tangier Gate. The house of knights has a mosaic of Dionysus discovering Adriana on the nexos beach. There is a cubid between them. Dionysus is the God of Wine and intoxication. He is also known as Bacchus.
The house of column has a coulms and 1 meter high wall
House of Venus
The first mosaic is about Diana Bathing. Diana in Roman Godess, she was known as a maiden huntress, protector of all that is wild and free.
This second mosaic is about the abduction of Hylas by Nymphs. Hylas was a son of Heracles, while nymphs were a buntch of beautifl greek girls who lived for a long long time. Now they abducted Hylas to make him immortal and wanted to keep him because he was hansome but his father Hercules became mad and this started a war.
The house had a third mosiac that I did not get to photowhich is Bacchus surrounded by 4 sessions, The roman God of Wine and intoxication Bacchus (The mosaic is not shown in picture)
The Forum and The Basilicus
The Basilicus was used as a Court house and built at the at same time as the triumphal arch around 168 AD.
The forum is triangular shaped 1300 square meter in size. it has few columns and on top of one of them a bird has made a nest as you can see. The Forum is the center of political, social and ecconomical life of the city
The forum is north east of the Basilicus.
The Capital was built by Emperor Macrinus in 217 AD on the south end of the Basilicas. To the east of it there was a market. The capital used to be a temple dedicated to the Roman Capitoline triad of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. The alter still remain in the site.
Juno was the Queen of the Gods. She was the sister to Neptune, Pluto and Jupiter (she also his wife). She was also the daughter of Saturn and mother of Mars. Juno was the guardian of the Empire's finances and considered the Matron Goddess of all Rome. The month of June was named after her
Jupiter is the ruler of the Gods. He is the god of Sky, Lightning and Thunder. his symbol is the eagle, who is also his messenger. He was also considered the Patron god of Rome, and his temple was the official place of state business and sacrifices.
Minerva is the Daughter of Jupiter and Juno. She is the Goddess of Wisdom, Learning, the Arts, Sciences, Medicine, Dyeing, Trade, and of War. She is also protector of commerce,