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Polish-Moroccan archeological team discovers Roman military tower

A Polish-Moroccan team of archaeologists has made an important discovery. For the first time, an observation tower built and used by the Roman military has been surveyed in the province of Mauritania Tingitana (northern Morocco).

The tower was erected on the southern border of the Roman province at a distance of about 2 km from the nearest garrison and about 6.5 km south of the ancient town of Volubilis.

Work at the site has been ongoing since 2021 as part of a cooperation agreement between the University of Warsaw and the Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (INSAP) in Rabat.

The joint discoveries confirm the presence of a Roman army at the El Mellali site. This is a breakthrough in the study of the defence system of the valley in which Volubilis, the largest city in this part of Roman Africa, is located.

Of all the provinces of the Roman Empire, Tingitanian Mauretania has the least recognised defence system. Previous missions working in the field had proposed the locations of a whole series of watchtowers, but no one had previously excavated any such sites.

For the first time, therefore, it was possible to prove that similar towers existed. Fragments of pilum, or Roman javelins, were found at the site, as well as nails nailed to the soles of military sandals and metal components of the cingulum (military belt). These finds confirm the military purpose of the discovered site.

“What Polish archaeologists from the University of Warsaw, headed by Prof Radosław Karasiewicz Szczypiorski, have unearthed in recent days, has exceeded our expectations,” Krzysztof Karwowski, Polish ambassador to Morocco, told TVP World, commenting on the discovery.

“The foundations of the Roman defence tower are wonderful evidence of the Roman defence system around Volubilis. This is thanks to the excellent cooperation between Polish and Moroccan archaeologists. We look forward to their further discoveries,” he added.

Special credit to Maciej Czapski from the Faculty of Archaeology at the University of Warsaw for providing the story.


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