Mogador island

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Mogador island from Essaouira harbour.
Map of Mogador island (upper left) in Essaouira bay, by Théodore Cornut, 1767.
Mogador island, seen from Essaouira beach.
Iles Purpuraires, with Mogador island in the background seen from the Essaouira citadel.

Mogador island (French: Ile Mogador) is the main island of the Iles Purpuraires near Essaouira in Morocco. It is about 3 kilometers long and 1.5 kilometers wide, and lies about 1.5 kilometers from Essaouira.[1]


Phoenician plate with red slip, 7th century BCE, excavated in Mogador island, Essaouira. Sidi Mohammed ben Abdallah Museum

The Carthaginian navigator Hanno visited and established a trading post in the area in the 5th century BC, and Phoenician artifacts have been found on the island.[1]

Around the end of the 1st century BC or early 1st century AD, Juba II established a Tyrian purple factory, processing the murex and purpura shells found in the intertidal rocks at Essaouira and the Iles Purpuraires. This dye colored the purple stripe in Imperial Roman Senatorial togas.

Roman merchants settled in the island under Augustus enlarging the trading post to a small city: a Roman house with foundations, and also artifacts and coins, were also found on the island. Mogador and the nearby Iles Purpuraires were tied [2] to Mauretania Tingitana and the Canary islands by merchant ships in the first and second centuries of the Roman Empire.

Recently a Roman vase was found as well as coinage from the 3rd century CE: most of the Roman artifacts are now visible in the Sidi Mohammed ben Abdallah Museum and the Rabat Archaeological Museum.

In 1844, the French Navy besieged the island, and it fell to the French in France's brutal Bombardment of Mogador.[3]

It has now been designated as a nature reserve, and it cannot be visited without an official authorization.



  • DESJACQUES, J. y KOERBELE, P. (1955): "Mogador et les iles purpuraires", Hesperis 42: 199-202.
  • ESCRIBANO, G. y MEDEROS, A. (1996a): "¿Ánforas romanas en las Islas Canarias?. Revisión de un aparente espejismo histórico", Tabona 9: 75-98.

See also[edit]

Coordinates: 31°29′44″N 9°47′11″W / 31.49556°N 9.78639°W / 31.49556; -9.78639