Lixus (ancient city)

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Lixus in Morocco.jpg
The ruins of Lixus
Lixus (ancient city) is located in Morocco
Lixus (ancient city)
Shown within Morocco
LocationLarache, Larache Province, Tanger-Tetouan-Al Hoceima, Morocco
Coordinates35°12′00″N 06°06′40″W / 35.20000°N 6.11111°W / 35.20000; -6.11111Coordinates: 35°12′00″N 06°06′40″W / 35.20000°N 6.11111°W / 35.20000; -6.11111
Founded12th century BC

Lixus (Canaanite: 𐤋𐤊𐤔 lkš or 𐤌𐤒𐤅𐤌 𐤔𐤌𐤔 mqwm šmš) is the site of an ancient Canaanite city located in Morocco, just north of the modern seaport of Larache on the bank of the Loukkos River. The location was one of the main cities of the Roman province of Mauretania Tingitana.[1]


Ancient Lixus is located on Tchemmich Hill on the right bank of the Loukkos River (other names: Oued Loukous; Locus River). It lies just to the north of the modern seaport of Larache.[2] The site lies within the urban perimeter of Larache, and about three kilometres inland from the mouth of the river and the Atlantic ocean. From its 80 metres above the plain the site dominates the marshes through which the river flows. To the north, Lixus is surrounded by hills which themselves are bordered to the north and east by a forest of cork oaks.

Among the ruins are Roman baths, temples, 4th-century walls, a mosaic floor, a Christian church and the intricate and confusing remains of the Capitol Hill.[3]



Some ancient Greek writers located at Lixus the mythological garden of the Hesperides, the keepers of the golden apples. The name of the city was often mentioned by writers from Hanno the Navigator to the Geographer of Ravenna, and confirmed by the legend on its coins and by an inscription. The ancients believed Lixus to be the site of the Garden of the Hesperides and of a sanctuary of Hercules, where Hercules gathered gold apples, more ancient than the one at Cadiz, Spain.


Lixus was first settled by the Canaanites in the 12th century BC and was later controlled directly from Carthage.[4]'[5]'[6]'[7]'[8] It was part of a chain of Canaanite towns along the Atlantic coast of modern Morocco; other major settlements further to the south are Chellah (called Sala Colonia by the Romans)[9], Anfa and Mogador. When Carthage's empire fell to Rome during the Punic Wars, Lixus, Chellah, and Mogador became outposts of the province of Mauretania Tingitana.

Roman Empire[edit]

Lixus flourished during the Roman Empire, mainly when the emperor Claudius (AD 41-54) established the province of Africa with full rights for the citizens. Lixus was one of the few Roman cities in Berber Africa that enjoyed an amphitheater. In the third century, Lixus became nearly fully Christian and there are even now the ruins of a Paleochristian church overlooking the archaeological area.[10]


The Muslim invasions destroyed the Roman city. Some Berber life was maintained for about a century after the Islamic conquest of North Africa, attested by the presence of a mosque and a house with a patio with walls covered with painted stucco.

Archaeological work[edit]

The site was excavated continuously from 1948 to 1969.[11] In the 1960s, Lixus was restored and consolidated. In 1989, following an international conference which brought together many scientists, specialists, historians and archaeologists of the Mediterranean around the history and archaeology of Lixus, the site was partly enclosed. Work was undertaken to study the Roman mosaics of the site, which constitute a very rich unit. Lixus was on a surface of approximately 75 hectares (190 acres). The excavated zones constitute approximately 20% of the total surface of the site.

World Heritage Status[edit]

This site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on July 1, 1995 in the Cultural category.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Rachid Mueden (2010). "Las colonias y municipios de la Mauritania Tingitana" (PDF). Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  2. ^ Prehistoria de España: Trabajos dedicados al IV Congreso Internacional, Santiago Alcobé y Noguer
  3. ^ "Sites Antiques". (in French). Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  4. ^ Moscati, Sabatino (2001). The Phoenicians. I.B.Tauris. p. 200. ISBN 9781850435334.
  5. ^ Palma, Salvatore Di (2014-11-18). L'Histoire des marques depuis l'antiquité jusqu'au moyen âge (in French). Société des Ecrivains. p. 139. ISBN 9782342031201.
  6. ^ Jouhaud, Edmond Jules René (1968). Historie de lA̕frique du Nord (in French). Éditions des Deux Cogs dÓr. p. 22.
  7. ^ Camps, Gabriel (2015-10-09). L'Afrique du Nord au féminin (in French). Perrin (réédition numérique FeniXX). p. 45. ISBN 9782262057435.
  8. ^ Temporini, Hildegard (2016-09-26). Politische Geschichte (Provinzen und Randvölker: Allgemeines; Britannien, Hispanien, Gallien) (in French). Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG. p. 664. ISBN 9783110882070.
  9. ^ C. Michael Hogan, Chellah, The Megalithic Portal, ed. Andy Burnham
  10. ^ "Lonely Roman ruins". Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  11. ^ The Phoenicians, by Sabatino Moscati


External links[edit]