• Keywords: Morocco, Cultural Landscape, Draa, Agdz, Agdez, Zagora, Mhamid, Oasis, earthen architecture, rock-art, engravings, Jebel Kissane, Anti-Atlas, Erg Chegaga, ksar, kasbash, qatarra, berber,

1. OFFICIAL CLASSIFICATIONS AND CATEGORIES

1.1 National and International Classification Lists

The “Draa Valley Cultural Landscape: Agdez, Zagora, Mhamid and other oases” is not in any list.

1.2. Cultural Landscape Category/Tipology

Organically evolved landscapes
Relict (or fossil) landscape

1.3. Description and Justification by Med-O-Med

Description

The Draa is Morocco’s longest river (1100 km). It is formed by the confluence of the Dadès River and Imini River. The water from the Draa is used to irrigate palm groves and small horticulture along the river. The Upper Draa River valley consists of six stretches of oases/palm groves from north to south: -The Mezguita oasis, with the Agdz and Auriz and south of it the Tamsikht dam. -The oasis of Tinzouline, with Ouled Lagraier, Tinzouline, Ouled Yaoub and a dam south of it. -The Ternata oasis with Zagora. -The Fezouata oasis with Tamegroute and south of it the Azagha dam. -The Ktaoua oasis with Tagounite, Blida, Tiraf and the Bounou dam south of it -The oasis of Mhamid. The width of the ‘green zone’ is on average three kilometers (varying from 100m to 10 kilometers). Because of the terrain the agriculture is very labour intensive. Dates are the main product, but also cereals, vegetables and henna are cultivated. The valley of the Draa is especially famous for its kasbahs. In general, oases are considered by UNESCO and Med-O-Med as sample of the human genius in action. These oases show an unique sample of interaction between human being and nature, composing a living continuing landscape illustrated by especific agricultural and irrigation systems in an arid environment. Basis on the UNESCO definition of Cultural Landscape (UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, Article 1, 1972, Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, 2008), considering this region as a result of “the combined works of nature and of man”, Med-O-Med resolves to value this site as a Cultural Landscape (Continuing Landscape) because of its natural and cultural heritage components. Some towns and villages of the site are described bellow: -Agdz or Agdez is a town in southeastern Morocco that lies at the feet of Djebel Kissane and along the shores of the Draa River. It is located on the old caravan route linking Marrakech to Timbuktu. Agdz long played an important economic role. The most predominant feature of Agdz is Jebel Kissane which is in the middle of the Draa Valley to the east of Agdz. Kissane means “glasses” in Arabic and the jebel is so named because it looks like glasses of tea behind a tea pot. -Zagora is the capital of the province Zagora, and it is in the valley of the Draa River in Souss-Massa-Drâa, southeastern Morocco. On the top of the Zagora mountain the remains of an Almoravid fortress can still be seen. At the foot of the Jbel Zagora lie the ruins of a Almoravids castle. From the Jbel Zagora there is a magnificent panorama on the Draa Valley with its palm oases, the desert with its rock and the characteristic silhouette of Jbel Sarhro. -Mhamid neatly marks the end of Morocco’s Great Oasis Valleys and the end of the asphalt road. It is from M’Hamid that the doorway opens for visiting Morocco’s other great desert destination—Erg Chegaga—the highest dunes in Morocco, towering at 300 meters. The outlying small villages of Ouled Driss and Bounou in the palm groves just before M’Hamid, have interesting kasbahs that can be visited. The sand drifting like snow across the road (despite the placement of palm-frond sand breaks and fences), the immensity of the horizon, and the patient gait of camels combine to produce a palpable change in the sense of time and space at this final Draâ oasis.

2. NAME / LOCATION / ACCESSIBILITY

  • Current denomination Draa (Derɛa, درعا‎), Agdz (Agdez, أكدز‎), Zagora ( زاكورة‎), M'Hamid.
  • Current denomination Draa (Derɛa, درعا‎), Agdz (Agdez, أكدز‎), Zagora ( زاكورة‎), M'Hamid.
  • Original denomination Draa (Derɛa, درعا‎), Agdz (Agdez, أكدز‎), Zagora ( زاكورة‎), M'Hamid.
  • Popular denomination Draa (Derɛa, درعا‎), Agdz (Agdez, أكدز‎), Zagora ( زاكورة‎), M'Hamid.
  • Address: Draa Valley. High Atlas. Province of Zagora.
  • Geographical coordinates: Draa Valley: 30°41′52″N, 6°26′59″W. Agdz: 30°41'24" N, 6°26'24" W. Zagora: 30°19′50″ N, 5°50′17″ W. M'Hamid: 30°07'12" N, 6°52'48" W.
  • Area, boundaries and surroundings: The valley measures 23,000 km² and corresponds with the province of Zagora, created in 1997, in the Souss-Massa-Drâa region. In the province there are 23 villages and two towns: Zagora and Agdz. Agdz or Agdez is a town in southeastern Morocco which lies at the feet of Djebel Kissane and along the shores of the Draa River, 65 km south of Ouarzazate and 92 km north of Zagora. Zagora is a town in the valley of the Draa River in Souss-Massa-Drâa, southeastern Morocco. M'Hamid marks the end of Morocco's Great Oasis Valleys. It is the doorway to the Erg Chegaga.
  • Access and transport facilities: An asphalt road came to M'Hamid from Ouarzazate. The trip from Ouarzazate is memorable, passing through small villages, the regional center of Zagora, and over a pass into the open desert. There are also buses from Casablanca, Marrakech, or any city along the N9 road to move between these towns.
  • Facilities:

    Zagora is the capital of the province and all administrative services are located here.

  • Events:

    Zagora is also noted for international events such as the Zagora Marathon and the Nomads Festival in M’Hamid. Also, each year the moussem (festival) of the Sufi saint moulay Abdelkader Jilali is celebrated at Zagora.

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DRAA VALLEY CULTURAL LANDSCAPE: AGDEZ, ZAGORA, MHAMID AND OTHER OASES (MOROCCO)

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DRAA VALLEY CULTURAL LANDSCAPE: AGDEZ, ZAGORA, MHAMID AND OTHER OASES (MOROCCO) 30.697778, -64.497222 DRAA VALLEY CULTURAL LANDSCAPE: AGDEZ, ZAGORA, MHAMID AND OTHER OASES (MOROCCO) (Directions)

3. LEGAL ISSUES

Property regime
  • Public
  • Owner: Moroccan Government.
  • Body responsible for the maintenance: Moroccan Government.

4. HISTORY

The pre-history of the valley of the Draa goes back thousands of years, as is evidenced by the many rock art engravings or petroglyphs in its surroundings and most of all by the find of the Venus of Tan-Tan. The first reference to the Draa River in historical times comes from Hanno a king of Carthage (living around 550 B.C.) who set out for a mission to establish a colony on the west coast of Africa. The Draa River was also well known to the ancient Romans. It figures on the first world map in history made by Ptolemy (90-168 AD). Four centuries later in 1053/54 the Almoravids began their advance on central Morocco. Their very first campaign was on the valley of the Draa river. The power in the valley had been, like in the city of Sijilmasa, for some 50 years in the hands of the Marghwata. At this time the region was the home of many important religious figures and zawiyas. The Draa became part of the marabout mouvement against the Portuguese who had captured many towns at the Atlantic coast. The Draa made an important come back in the history of Morocco with the rise of the dynasty of the Saadi or Bani Zaydan as their original name was. During the 17th century the Alaouite dynasty succeeds in establishing its authority in the valley. They conquer the Draa in 1642 where they, like their predecessors, construct numerous ksour. They rule by military force and it is no longer from Tagmadert that they reign the country, but from d’Aghlan, some 20 km North of Zagora. In the two next centuries the Draa remains the object of fights between warring (nomadic) tribes. Unfortunately sources have paid too little attention to the sedentary population to give a complete picture of its history and evolution. Much of the history of the Draa valley is characterised by the warfare between different tribes and most of all by the crimes these tribes committed against the local Drawa population.

  • Oldest initial date /building and inauguration date: The first reference to the Draa River is around 550 B.C.
  • Original and successive owners: See point 4.1.

5. GENERAL DESCRIPTION

5.1. Natural heritage

  • Heritage: Rural
  • Geography: Valley
  • Site topography: Natural
  • Climate and environmental conditions: Mediterranean climate.
  • Geological and Geographical characteristics: The Anti-Atlas is one of the mountain ranges lying in Morocco lying as part of the Atlas mountains in the northwest of the Africa. The Anti-Atlas extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the southwest toward the northeast to the heights of Ouarzazate and further east to the city of Tafilalt (altogether a distance of approximately 500 km). In the south it borders the Sahara. The easternmost point of the anti-Atlas is the Djebel Sarhro mountains and its eastern boundary is set by sections of the High Atlas range. On the heights of Ouarzazate the massif is cut through by the Dráa valley which opens southward. In this chaos of rocks the contrasts are astonishing: water runs in some remote places, forming clear basins. The rare villages are reduced to a handful of small houses surrounded by palm trees. The Anti-Atlas mountains are believed to have originally been formed as part of Alleghenian orogeny. These mountains were formed when Africa and America collided, and were once a chain rivaling today's Himalayas. Today, the remains of this chain can be seen in the Fall line in the eastern United States. Some remnants can also be found in the later formed Appalachians in North America. A second phase took place during the Mesozoic Era (before ~65 My) and consisted of a widespread extension of the Earth's crust that rifted and separated the continents mentioned above. This extension was responsible for the formation of many thick intracontinental sedimentary basins including the present Atlas. Most of the rocks forming the surface of the present High Atlas were deposited under the ocean at that time. Finally, in the Tertiary Period (~65 million to ~1.8 million years ago), the mountain chains that today comprise the Atlas were uplifted as the land masses of Europe and Africa collided at the southern end of the Iberian peninsula. Such convergent tectonic boundaries occur where two plates slide towards each other forming a subduction zone (if one plate moves underneath the other) and/or a continental collision (when the two plates contain continental crust). In the case of the Africa-Europe collision, it is clear that tectonic convergence is partially responsible for the formation of the High Atlas, as well as for the closure of the Strait of Gibraltar and the formation of the Alps and the Pyrenees. However, there is a lack of evidence for the nature of the subduction in the Atlas region, or for the thickening of the Earth's crust generally associated with continental collisions. In fact, one of the most striking features of the Atlas to geologists is the relative small amount of crustal thickening and tectonic shortening despite the important altitude of the mountain range. Recent studies suggest that deep processes rooted in the Earth's mantle may have contributed to the uplift of the High and Middle Atlas
Water resources:
  • Public
The Draa is Morocco's longest river (1100 km). It is formed by the confluence of the Dadès River and Imini River. It flows from the High Atlas mountains south-(east) ward to Tagounit and from Tagounit mostly westwards to the Atlantic Ocean somewhat north of Tan-Tan. Most of the year the part of the Draa after Tagounit falls dry.
Vegetation:

Date palms.

Fauna:

In general terms, the Anti-Atlas mountains have been home to a number of plant and animal species unique in Africa, many of them are endangered and some have already gone extinct. Examples include the Barbary Macaque, the Atlas Bear (Africa’s only species of bear, now extinct), the Barbary Leopard, the Barbary stag, Barbary Sheep, the Barbary Lion (extinct in the wild), the Atlas Mountain Badger, the North African Elephant (extinct), the African Aurochs (extinct), Cuvier’s Gazelle, the Northern Bald Ibis, Dippers, the Atlas mountain viper, the Atlas Cedar, the European Black Pine, and the Algerian Oak.

Land uses and economical activities:
Agricultural. Tourism.
Agricultural issues or other traditional productions and their effect on the landscape:
The water from the Draa is used to irrigate palm groves and small horticulture along the river. The Draa valley is famous as the date basket of Morocco. It grows more than 18 varieties. Fruit trees and vegetables are the main crops but henna is also a well known product of the region. The agriculture is very labour intensive because it takes place on terraced fields.
Summary of Landscapes values and characteristics:

The Upper Draa River valley consists of six stretches of oases/palm groves from north to south: the Mezguita oasis, with the Agdz and Auriz and south of it the Tamsikht dam, the oasis of Tinzouline, with Ouled Lagraier, Tinzouline, Ouled Yaoub and a dam south of it, the Ternata oasis with Zagora, the Fezouata oasis with Tamegroute and south of it the Azagha dam, the Ktaoua oasis with Tagounite, Blida, Tiraf and the Bounou dam south of it, he oasis of Mhamid. The width of the ‘green zone’ is on average three kilometers (varying from 100m to 10 kilometers). Because of the terrain the agriculture is very labour intensive. Dates are the main product, but also cereals, vegetables and henna are cultivated. The valley of the Draa is especially famous for its kasbahs. Other than this, the main attraction are the Erg Chegaga dunes which are about 50Km from Mhamid.

5.2. Cultural Heritage

A) Related to current constructions, buildings and art pieces in general

Architectonical elements /Sculptures:

The earthen constructions of southern Morocco are rightly celebrated, for they represent a particular family of pre-Saharan architecture, which is common to all countries of the Great Maghreb, Mauritania and Libya. The typology of this traditional habitat is extremely diversified. Large houses, called tighremt in Berber and dar or kasba in Arabic, bring together, around a central rectangular courtyard, four tall fortified wings, topped by angle towers. In some cases they allow entrance to lower connected houses situated around a second courtyard which has an enceinte. The valley of the Draa is especially famous for its kasbahs. The most famous kasbahs in the region are (north to south): -The kasbah of Tamnougalt (the kasbah of Caïd Ali) and the kasbah of Aït Hammou Ousaid (or Mouha ou Hammou Zayani) near Agdz. -The kasbah of El Caïd Ouslim and the kasbah of Oulad Outhmane in Tamezmout. -The kasbah of Foum Achnna and the kasbah of N’Kob in Tinzouline -The kasbah of Tat Ifli in Beni Zouli. -The kasbah of Amezrou, of Aït Ali Tighramt Ouziguen and of Laglaoui in Zagora. -The kasbah of Agouim Nouaadjou and the kasbah of Tagounite in Tagounite. -The kasbah of Aït Bounou, of LaAllouj, the kashbah of Oulad Driss and the kasbah of the Rgabi in M’hamid El Ghuzlane.

In the case of gardens: original and current style:
It is not the case.
Man-made elements related to water management:
  • Public
Seguias (small canals) transport the water from the river to the fields. Like some other ancient Berber oases in North Africa (Siwa, Kufra, Ouargla) the Draa valley was known for its qatarra, a sophisticated system of underground irrigation canals.
Domestic, industrial ensembles, energy related systems:

Qatarra system.

B) Related to ancient remains

  • Archaeological components:

    The pre-history of the valley of the Draa goes back thousands of years, as is evidenced by the many rock art engravings or petroglyphs in its surroundings and most of all by the find of the Venus of Tan-Tan. This statue is possibly the oldest human figurine ever found. It dates back more than three hundred thousand years. From all main periods of the prehistory of the Sahara rock-engravings and rock-paintings have been found. Foum Chenna (Tinzouline), Aït Ouaazik ( Asguine Tarna, Tazzarine) Tiouririne e Tisguinine (Zagora) are amongst the best known sites in the Draa region. At lghir N’tidri between Tagunit and Mhamid al-Ghizlane there is the necropolis of Foum Larjam. The necropolis is the largest of North Africa and consists of several kilometers of tumuli and dates back to prehistoric times. It is one of the few sites where not just rock-drawings but also rock-paintings were found. An extensive investigation into the precise date and origin of its (sedentary) inhabitants has yet to be made.

  • Historical routes:

    Agdz is located on the old caravan route linking Marrakech to Timbuktu. M’Hamid was once an outpost for the camel corps of the French Foreign Legion.

  • Traces in the environment of human activity: Archaeological remains. Oasis and palm groves.
C) Related to intangible, social and spiritual values

  • Population, ethnic groups: Around 225,000 people live in the valley of the Draa. In the province there are 23 villages and two towns: Zagora and Agdz.
  • Languages and dialects: Languages spoken in the region include Moroccan Arabic, Tachelhit and Tamazight.
  • Lifestyle, believing, cults, traditional rites: Berber traditions and rules.

5.3. Quality

Quality of the night sky, light pollution and possibility to observe the stars:
Oases are privileged sites to breath in silence, to find ourselves and to observe the pure beauty of nature, including the stars that are brighting in the night sky, free of light pollution.
Perspectives/Views/ Points of interest/Setting:

All the oases and ksars already mentioned in this file. Also the natural landscape, including the mountains of the Moroccan Atlas, the Draa river and valley and the Erg Chegaga.

6. VALUES

Tangible

  • Aesthetic
  • Archaeological
  • Architectonical
  • Living heritage
The main tangible values of "Draa Valley Cultural Landscape: Agdez, Zagora, Mhamid and other oases" are: -Aesthetic: The magnificence of the Anti-Atlas, the Draa river and valley, together with the oases, palm groves and ancient ksars which are scattered around the territory compose a beatiful landscape with high aesthetical values. -Archaeological: The pre-history of the valley of the Draa river goes back thousands of years, as is evidenced by the many rock art engravings or petroglyphs in its surroundings and most of all by the find of the Venus of Tan-Tan.There is also a necropolis which is the largest of North Africa and consists of several kilometers of tumuli and dates back to prehistoric times. -Architectonical/Living Heritage: The earthen constructions of southern Morocco are rightly celebrated, for they represent a particular family of pre-Saharan architecture. The typology of this traditional habitat is extremely diversified. The valley of the Draa is especially famous for its kasbahs. -Botanical/Zoological: In general terms, the Atlas have been home to a number of plant and animal species unique in Africa, often more like those of Europe, many of them are endangered and some have already gone extinct. Examples include the Barbary Macaque, the Atlas Bear (Africa's only species of bear, now extinct), the Barbary Leopard, the Barbary stag, Barbary Sheep, the Barbary Lion (extinct in the wild), the Atlas Mountain Badger, the North African Elephant (extinct), the African Aurochs (extinct), Cuvier's Gazelle, the Northern Bald Ibis, Dippers, the Atlas mountain viper, the Atlas Cedar, the European Black Pine, and the Algerian Oak. -Geological: The Anti-Atlas mountains are believed to have originally been formed as part of Alleghenian orogeny. These mountains were formed when Africa and America collided, and were once a chain rivaling today's Himalayas. Today, the remains of this chain can be seen in the Fall line in the eastern United States. Some remnants can also be found in the later formed Appalachians in North America.

Intangible

  • Historical
  • Mythical
The main intangible values of "Draa Valley Cultural Landscape: Agdez, Zagora, Mhamid and other oases" are: -Historical: There are evidences of prehistoric settlements. The first reference to the Draa River in historical times comes from Hanno a king of Carthage (living around 550 B.C.) who set out for a mission to establish a colony on the west coast of Africa. Romans, almoravids, etc., were in this territory. Agdz is located on the old caravan route linking Marrakech to Timbuktu. -Mythical: An oasis could be considered (according to UNESCO) as an image of the garden of Eden. It is the practical expression of a mythical idea. -Social significance: The villages, towns and oases of the valley enjoy a unique cultural heritage and a society rich in berber customs and traditions with social significance. The living heritage is composed of practices that are the result of slow, patient adaptation to the hostility of the environment and the scarcity of its resources. The irrigation system developed in the oases is a good example of that.
Authenticity:
The rock art engravings or petroglyphs are in good conditions. The architectural style is well preserved and the earthen constructions of the oases are perfectly adapted to the climatic conditions and are in harmony with the natural and social environment.
Universality:
Med-O-Med describes the universality of the site according to the UNESCO criteria defined for Cultural Landscapes, iii) The prehistoric engravings and paintings found in Draa Valley are a exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition which has disappeared. iv) The Kasbash and ksars of the oases, villages and towns located on Draa Valley, illustrate the main types of earthen constructions that may be observed dating from the 17th century in the valleys of Dra, Todgha, Dadès and Souss. v) The oases (Agzd, Zagora, M'Hamid, etc.) represent the traditional earthen habitat representing the culture of southern Morocco, which has become vulnerable as a result of irreversible socio-economic and cultural change. vii) The natural area contained in this Cultural Landscape, including the Anti-Atlas mountains, the Draa river and valley, also the Erg Chegaga, are of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance. viii) The Anti-Atlas mountains are believed to have originally been formed as part of Alleghenian orogeny. These mountains were formed when Africa and America collided. x) Finally, the site contains the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.
Values linked to the Islamic culture and civilisation:
-The traditional earthen architecture.The kasbash and ksars. -The agricultural style of the palm groves and other crops of the oases, and the ancient irrigation system (qatarra system). -The berber culture: rites, customs etc, associated to the territory.

7. ENCLOSURES

Historical and graphical data (drawings, paintings, engravings, photographs, literary items…):

Draa Valley Cultural Landscape: Agdez, Zagora, Mhamid and other oases is one of all of the cultural landscapes of Morocco which is included in The Cultural Landscape inventory runned by Med-O-Med.

Bibliography:

http://whc.unesco.org/venice2002 http://www.completemorocco.com/destinations-in-morocco/desert/draa-valley/ http://global.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/170627/Draa-River http://riaddusud.net/uk_valley-of-the-Draa.html http://morocco-deserts.blogspot.com.es/2011/01/mhamid-el-ghizlane-moroccan-oasis-and.html http://www.completemorocco.com/destinations-in-morocco/desert/mhamid/ http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=1574268 http://www.sahara-tourism.net -Bahani, A. (1994). La nouba d’eau et son évolution dans les palmeraies du Draa Moyen du Maroc: CERES. Les oasis du Maghreb, Tunis: pp. 107–126. -Elfasi, M. (1988), General History of Africa III, Africa from the Seventh to the 11th century, UNESCO. -Hammoudi, A. (1985). Substance and Relation: Water Rights and Water Distribution in the Dra Valley. In: Mayer, A.E. (Ed.), Property, Social Structure, and law in the Modern Middle East. New York: pp. 27–57. -Pellow, T. et al. (1973). The History of the long captivity and adventures of Thomas Pellow, in South-Barbary. ISBN 0-8240-0583-X -Philip C. (1988). African History, London: Longman. -Spillmann, G. (1931). Villes et Tribus du Maroc vol. IX, Tribus Berbères Tome II, Districts et Tribus de la Haute Vallée du Dra, Paris. -UNESCO. (2001). Convention concerning the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage. World Heritage Committee. 25 session. Helsinki, Finland. -UNESCO. (2002). Cultural Landscapes: the Challenges of Conservation. Associated Workshops, World Heritage. Ferrara, Italy. -UNESCO. (2012). Inventory of Earthen archetecture. World Heritage Earthen Architecture Programme.

Compiler Data: Sara Martñinez Frías.