An archaeological survey was conducted in October 2017 on the Atlantic Coast of Northern Morocco, between the cities of Tangier and Asilah. The scope of the project, a cooperation between the Moroccan Institut National pour les Sciences de l'Archeologie et du Patrimoine (INSAP) and UCL-Qatar is to trace the modifications to the cultural and economic landscape of the Tingitan peninsula before and after the arrival of the Arabs in the region. The survey concentrated on two areas of this region, the first near the mouth of the Tahaddart river, fifteen kilometers north of Asilah, and the second a dozen kilometers inland, in the vicinity of Ain Daliya, south of Tangier. The Tahaddart river today may have filled a large lagoon. This flat area today can be entirely flooded during particularly rainy winters. Salt pans and cultivated fields characterize this landscape. In the Roman period, salt was used to cure fish and extract a liquid called garum, much appreciated in Rome and its provinces. Garum production sites in this region are known from previous archaeological work. Two major sites are also known in this area: Tingis, ancient Tangier, and the Augustan colony of Iulia Constantia Zilil, near the village of Dchar Jdid. A large number of pre-Roman and Roman sites were also discovered in the course of previous archaeological work, but unfortunately a systematic study of these remains has not been conducted yet, while archaeological remains dated to the Islamic periods were often ignored altogether. The present contribution, based on the results of the survey, the analysis of satellite imagery, and the study of previous publications, intends to offer a new perspective on the long history of human occupation in Northern Morocco, taking into consideration every archaeological presence found, from Prehistory to Late Islamic, although paying special attention to the transition from Late Roman to early Islamic periods. Survey data confirms that human occupation both on the coast and inland was consistent from at least the fifth century BCE to the Late Roman period. An Early Islamic presence is being recognized at several sites, some of which also showing Late Roman occupation, an indication of a certain continuity of use of some areas. The Early Islamic occupation may not be easily recognized due to the lack of ceramic sequences found in stratigraphic contexts, and future project seasons will try to fill this gap in our knowledge. Sites dated to the XI-XII century onward are more easily recognizable. Ceramics dated to these periods were found both in villages still occupied today and in isolated areas, pointing to a diffused occupation of several hilltop sites. A correlation was also found between marabouts and isolated cemeteries and the presence of abandoned settlements in their vicinity, a correlation that must be confirmed by future research. Future project seasons will include more surveys and small excavations or soundings in sites where the surface pottery sequences promise to reveal the presence of stratigraphic contexts that can help us fixing a chronology for both pottery and settlement types in the region.


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