Figuig Oasis, MOROCCO
- Keywords: Morocco, Cultural Landscape, Oasis, Figuig, Foggara, iqouda, seguia, sehrij, ksar, earthen architecture, octogonal minaret, marabout, Amazighes Sahariennes.
1. OFFICIAL CLASSIFICATIONS AND CATEGORIES
1.1 National and International Classification Lists
Figuig Oasis Cultural Landscape is proposed in the Tentative List of UNESCO (named: “Oasis de Figuig”), date of submission: 30/05/2011, criteria: (iii)(iv)(v), category: cultural and ref.: 5625.
- Tentative List of UNESCO
1.2. Cultural Landscape Category/Tipology
Organically evolved landscapesRelict (or fossil) landscape
1.3. Description and Justification by Med-O-Med
Figuig is a town in eastern Morocco near the Atlas Mountains, on the border with Algeria. The town is built around an oasis of date palms, called Tazdayt, meaning “palm tree” in the Berber language, surrounded by rugged, mountainous wilderness. Figuig consists of seven different communities, which are: At-Wadday, At-Amar, At-Lamiz, At-Sliman, At-Annaj, At-Addi, Iznayen. The communities are usually made up of a fortified group of houses. Formerly, there were several ksour in Figuig, but today only seven are still standing, including: Ksar Hammam Foukani, Ksar Hammam Tahtani Ksar Laabidate, Ksar Lamiz, Ksar Loudaghir and Ksar Oulad Slimane, who are virtually grouped in the same region, and finally Ksar Zenaga which is in the lower Figuig. The earthen constructions of southern Morocco are rightly celebrated, because they represent a particular family of pre-Saharan architecture, which is common to all countries of the Great Maghreb, Mauritania and Libya. Homes of Figuig are extended by building rooms over the alleyways and are built mainly with soil, though palm trunks (tizidin) and leaf-heads (tikachba, taratta) are used in roof construction, preserving the earthen architecture style of Morocco. Also the irrigation system of Figuig is culturally interesting. The sources of water are exploited by a technique known as “Foggara” or “Foggaguir””, they are kinds of conduits for the drain or water run-off. The Foggara is an ancient irrigation system typical of Sahara Desert, which is composed by: seguias, distributors or iqoudass, Kharroubas and shares of water, Sehrijs (enormous basins). There are also rock carvings discovered in the nineteenth century in the border region with Algeria date back thousands of years. Archaeologists claim that the remains date from the Neolithic period. This oasis, its ksars, houses, palm groves and the foggara system, show definitively 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 landscape. So, 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 Continuing Cultural Landscape.
2. NAME / LOCATION / ACCESSIBILITY
- Current denomination Figuig (Berber: Ifiyey).
- Current denomination Figuig (Berber: Ifiyey).
- Original denomination Figuig (Berber: Ifiyey).
- Popular denomination Figuig (Berber: Ifiyey).
- Address: Figuig Province, Oriental region, Morocco.
- Geographical coordinates: Coordinates: N32 07, W01 14 Altitude: 903 m
- Area, boundaries and surroundings: Figuig is located south-eastern Morocco near the Moroccan-Algerian border. Distant from Oujda of almost 384 km and the town of Bani-Ouane (Algeria) 8 km.
- Access and transport facilities: Classification of the airports according to their distance of the town of Figuig : Oujda Angad Nador Al-aroui Fes Sais Rabat Salé Mohamed V Casablanca Tanger Ibn Batouta Marrakech El-Manara Agadir Al-Massira Two principal roads connect the town of Figuig to the remainder of the other cities: Road 17, of Oujda while passing by Ain Beni Mathar, Tendrara and Bouarfa to finish in Figuig: - the distance from Oujda with Figuig is of 384 km - the distance from Bouarfa with Figuig is of 117 km Road 10, which crosses er-rachidia and finished in Bouarfa: - the er-rachidia distance with Figuig is of 404 km - -the er-rachidia distance with Bouarfa is of 287 km
3. LEGAL ISSUES
- Owner: Moroccan Government.
- Body responsible for the maintenance: Moroccan Government.
- Public or private organizations working in the site: There are different organizations working and researching in the site, as the Universtity of Paris, The School of Architecture of Paris Val de Seine ("L'École d'Architecture de Paris Val de Seine"), or the NGO Africa'70.
The rock carvings discovered in the nineteenth century in the border region with Algeria back thousands of years. Archaeologists claim that the remains date from the Neolithic period. (Between 10,000 and 2300 before Christ). This period is characterized by change in lifestyle of the man: he abandons the chase to agriculture and the use of animals. Ecological conditions of natural and Figuig promote and highlight the approach shows that this oasis is not just a gateway but also a place to live. Between 429 year when the Vandals conquered North Africa and 636 when the Battle of Yarmouk took place, it was a certainty that the predominant religion was Christianity in Figuig. After defeating the Byzantines in 645 during the Battle of Yarmuk, the Muslims spread Islam to North Africa. Added to this is that Christian pilgrims Figuig have been influenced by the new religion, Islam, the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. It is the dawn of Islam in Figuig. 5th century AH / 11th century: the tribute of Banu Hilal Senhaji and moved towards Figuig which will influence relations Inter-Ksour and cause conflicts. 6th century AH: the region is subject under the authority of the dynasty led by Mouahidite Yacoub El Mansour AlMouahidi. 956 AH / 1549: Sultan Muhammad Esâadi Alcheikh traps noble Figuig to bring the city under his reign. These nobles were released after the intervention of mediators near the Sultan. 1061 AH / 1651 under the reign of Alawi, Sultan Bin Mohammed Sheriff engages in a fierce battle for the city to submit Figuig under his authority. 1089 AH / 1679: Baya renewal of Moulay Ismail who ruled Morocco between 1084 and 1139 AH (1673-1727). Governors Figuig this time were resorting to oppression and tennaient Figuig City with an iron fist, including Molay son of Sultan Abdul Malik in 1118 Hijra. 1782: one of the most violent conflicts between Ksour ends. Water sources were generally the cause of conflicts. At this year Ksar Aljouaber disappears forever. 1299 AH / 1881: the night of Wednesday, 10 Rabii Athani until noon, the French tried unsuccessfully to crush the resistance Figuig who supported the Algerian resistance against the French. This battle took place at Zenaga instead Oussiaimane which sparked the victory figuiguis who have lost 30 martyrs and 18 wounded, against 129 deaths and 50 wounded in the French camp. July 1883: the famous Algerian Sheikh resistant Bouamama found his place of birth (Hammam Foukani) Figuig in order to collect and reorganize his troops activists. 1321 AH / 1903: General Oconor conducting an aggressive military partner against the inhabitants of the city Figuig. On June 9, this general bombing of the Ksar Zenaga with 600 cannon fire, houses and date palms were destroyed. His arrogance led her to destroy the people to the dome of the mosque in the Jemaa. However, no resistance was reported. 1 August 1946: King Mohammed V ordered the construction of the school which will have a role Annahda center management training. This property was supervised by the fire Alhaj Mohammed bin Frej. March 2, 1956: the independence of Morocco. February 26, 1961: the death of the late Majesty Mohammed V. March 3, 1961: Crown Prince Moulay Hassan of Morocco becomes king. October 1963: between Algeria and Morocco modern war sands: Algeria refuses to go to Morocco its lands included in the territory of the occupying French. After this crisis the people of Figuig lost a considerable amount of their land and date palms. March 1973: Like other Moroccan cities, Figuig has experienced a wave of kidnapping abused by the state under the pretext that they supported the armed opposition July 23, 1999: Death of His Majesty King Hassan II. 30 July 1999: Crown Prince Moulay Mohammed becomes king of Morocco. January 7, 2004: creation of the Equity and Reconciliation Commission by order of His Majesty Mohammed VI. This commission is not justice, but its purpose is to reconcile the people and to compensate victims of past events. The city Figuig is among the cities that were included in this program. 29 and 30 January 2005: hearing listening to the testimonies of victims and suffering.
- Oldest initial date /building and inauguration date: Neolithic period.
- Original and successive owners: See point 4.1.
- Dates of successive recycling to the original layout: See point 4.1.
5. GENERAL DESCRIPTION
5.1. Natural heritage
- Heritage: Rural
- Geography: High Mountain
- Site topography: Natural
- Climate and environmental conditions: Climate semi - desert.
- Geological and Geographical characteristics: The metropolitan area is structurally the great mountain range of Morocco: High Atlas, and specifically the IS side. This explains the presence of several mountains in this area. These mountains form a sort of natural barrier around the city Figuig, and play a specific role in the survival of the city. Figuig, according to geological experts, has benefited greatly from these mountains. Obviously, as some underground tunnels are considered a large rainwater tank, including a large body of water that flows from the mountain town above (High Atlas). On the other hand, these mountains hinder the sanding of the oasis.
Land uses and economical activities:Agriculture. Toursim.
Agricultural issues or other traditional productions and their effect on the landscape:The town was established next to an oasis of date palms, and dates, or tiyni, are by far its most important resource. Some hundreds of thousands of date palms are cultivated in the area, and their fruit has become Figuig's primary crop. In the 1960s and 1970s however, Figuig had lost countless date palms because of the Bayud disease. Wheat, or tasharza, is also an important product of the town. Its cultivation near the town assured a steady supply of the crucial grain which allowed for a higher quality of life. In order to increase arable land, many private farmers have constructed soil-filled stone terraces along the Jorf, a salt mountain nearby. The Jorf is a sort of salt mountain about 1 kilometre long and 50 metres high. It is a nesting site of wild pigeons and bees, as well as scorpions and snakes, and is divided between several private landowners . The Jorf also serves to divide between the upper and lower portions of the town, and several thoroughfares connecting them run across it.
Summary of Landscapes values and characteristics:
Figuig is built around an oasis of date palms, called Tazdayt, surrounded by rugged, mountainous wilderness. Figuig consists of seven different communities and several ksour, including: Ksar Hammam Foukani, Ksar Hammam Tahtani Ksar Laabidate, Ksar Lamiz, Ksar Loudaghir and Ksar Oulad Slimane, who are virtually grouped in the same region, and finally Ksar Zenaga which is in the lower Figuig. Homes of Figuig are extended by building rooms over the alleyways and are built mainly with soil, though palm trunks (tizidin) and leaf-heads (tikachba, taratta) are used in roof construction, preserving the earthen architecture style of Morocco. Also the irrigation system of Figuig is culturally interesting.
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. Homes of Figuig, or Tidriwin, are extended by building rooms over the alleyways, these extensions are referred to as Askif. Houses are built mainly with soil, though palm trunks (tizidin) and leaf-heads (tikachba, taratta) are used in roof construction. Figuig consists of seven different communities (Ighermawen in South Oran Berber dialect) which are: At-Wadday, At-Amar, At-Lamiz, At-Sliman, At-Annaj, At-Addi, Iznayen. A community territory is called an Agram, which is the word some local Berbers use to describe themselves in their tongue, plural Igramawan. The communities are usually made up of a fortified group of houses. Many Agrams are designed with defensive measures like watch-towers and heavy doors on the main entrances, which are closed at night, as well as a mazelike layout, called an Abrid (meaning “pathway” in Berber), which makes navigation for unwanted intruders extremely difficult. The town of Figuig is composed of seven Ksour: Ksar Hammam Foukani, Ksar Hammam Tahtani Ksar Laabidate, Ksar Lamiz, Ksar Loudaghir and Ksar Oulad Slimane, who are virtually grouped in the same region, and finally Ksar Zenaga which is in the lower Figuig. This characteristic ksarienne by which Figuig is characterized classifies the city among the cities having preserved a historical heritage in the field of old constructions. The Octagonal minaret is located in Ksar of Loudaghir, it was constructed into The Sixteenth Century, with a 19 m height. This minaret has a square base and starting from 5 m of its base it starts to become octagonal (eight dimensions). There are other momuments of interest: mosques, synaggoge, Saint Anne Church, marabouts, etc…
In the case of gardens: original and current style:It is not the case.
Man-made elements related to water management:
B) Related to ancient remains
- Archaeological components:
There are some rock carvings discovered in the nineteenth century in the border region with Algeria back thousands of years. Archaeologists claim that the remains date from the Neolithic period. (Between 10,000 and 2300 before Christ).
- Traces in the environment of human activity: Agriculture. Earthen architecture.
C) Related to intangible, social and spiritual values
- Population, ethnic groups: The town has a population of around 13,000.
- Languages and dialects: The original mainly spoken language is Tamazight (a Berber language). Figuig's population are referred to as At-Ufiyyey in that language. Tamazight is spoken but not written in Figuig. Also Moroccan arabic and French are spoken in Figuig.
- Lifestyle, believing, cults, traditional rites: Berber traditions and rules.
Condition: environmental/ cultural heritage degradation:-Modernization has somewhat raised the standard of living, and drawn much of the town's population away, so that it is now struggling to reach stability. -Problems related to Foggara: Foggara could require the presence, at the moment of the turn (Spree), of the person concerned in order to begin the irrigation. This requirement causes well cavity certain problems, as: - the person does not need to irrigate her garden because the rain of the made day before or the previous days. - Certain trees of the garden do not have yet need for water, cavity, the excess of irrigation can harm the profitability of some plants. - Non-attendance of the person responsible for the irrigation for any reason. - Certain people can have their turn after laying down it sun: difficulty of management in the night (in general, the gardens with Figuig do not have lighting). Solution: To cure these problems, the figuiguiens invented a method of water management, to give control to the person and not to Kharrouba and which is: The storage of water in basins "of Sehrijs". This way of making is very simple. Any person not needing to irrigate her garden at the time of her Kharrouba, can forward her water to a basin of storage (it is enough to warn Sraïfi). In this manner one can use his water share constantly of the year according to the need for the gardens and seasons'.
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 communities that compose Figuig, the ancient ksars, the earhen architecture of the streets and houses, the palm groves and the Foggara system.
- Living heritage
Authenticity: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) Figuig bears an exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared, as the Amazighes Sahariennes. iv) The Kasbash and ksars of Figuig, illustrate the main types of earthen constructions that may be observed in Morocco. v) Figuig oasis is a sample of the the traditional earthen habitat, representing a part of the Moroccan culture which has become vulnerable as a result of irreversible socio-economic and cultural change. It can be observed in the agricultural practices or the Foggara system that still remain in the oasis.
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 (foggara system). -The culture of the Amazighes Sahariennes.
Historical and graphical data (drawings, paintings, engravings, photographs, literary items…):
Figuig Cultural Landscape is one of all of the cultural landscapes of Morocco which is included in The Cultural Landscape inventory runned by Med-O-Med.
http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5625/ http://whc.unesco.org/venice2002 http://www.ville-figuig.info/ http://www.zousfana.com/figuig/Default.aspx -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 Martínez Frías.