Fortification of Ait Ben Haddou in Morocco
Fortification of Ait Ben Haddou in Morocco. Aït Benhaddou is an ighrem, along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech in present-day Morocco. Most citizens attracted by the tourist trade live in more modern dwellings in a village on the other side of the river, although there are four families still living in the ancient village. Inside the walls of the ksar are half a dozen (Kasbahs) or merchants houses and other individual dwellings, and is a great example of Moroccan earthen clay architecture.
The Ksar and other fortified towns in the area may owe their existence to the presence of the Trans-Saharan Trade Route. This route connected the North African coast, Europe, and the Levant to sub-Saharan Africa. Trade goods, including gold, salt, and African slaves passed through these routes beginning in ancient times, and reaching a peak between the 8 th century A.D. and the late 16 th century A.D. With such traffic along the trade route, it would be reasonable for locals to take advantage of the situation and earn a living by providing shelter, food and drink to the travelling merchants. The presence of such valuable trade goods in their towns, however, would have attracted bandits or raiding nomads. Therefore, defensive walls were necessary to ensure the safety of both the inhabitants of the city and their wealthy customers.