The Watch

Sijilmassa

Rissani, Morocco

1996 World Monuments Watch

Rising on the banks of the Oved Ziz River, Sijilmassa grew wealthy as a gold-trade-route city in the Middle Ages. The entire city is constructed of mud brick, which requires constant maintenance and renewal in order to survive. Although the great mosque is intact and was last rebuilt in 1796, many of the other structures are in decline. The outlines of the city have been determined through archaeological excavations begun in 1988. With the completion of these excavations in 1996, the long-term conservation of the site must be addressed. This program would necessarily involve the local population, providing jobs and an impetus for people to remain in the area, helping to enliven and conserve the town. Without such a program, the opportunity to understand and interpret Sijilmassa's ancient remains will be lost within a decade.

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