A partly excavated Berber-Roman city in Morocco, Volubilis, may have been the capital of Mauretania during the reign of King Juba II, though Gilda may have been the kingdom’s capital before Volubilis. It was originally a Berber settlement, but developed into a proto-Carthaginian settlement and then became the capital of Mauretania after the 3rd century BC. Under Roman rule, the city expanded rapidly and covered 42 hectares and had a wall circuit of 2.6 kilometers. A basilica, a temple, and a triumphal arch were among the numerous buildings added to the city in the 2nd century. A large number of fine townhouses with large mosaic floors were built because of its prosperity, which was derived primarily from olive growing.
Due to its inaccessibility and indefensibility on the southern border of the Roman Empire, this city fell to local tribes around 285 and was never retaken by Rome.As an early Muslim settlement, it was occupied for at least another 700 years, initially as a Latinised Christian settlement.Idris ibn Abdallah, founder of the Idrisid dynasty of Morocco, made it his home in the late 8th century.Upon the relocation of the capital to Fes, Volubilis was abandoned in the 11th century.Several residents of the city relocated to Moulay Idriss Zerhoun, about 5 kilometers away from Volubilis.
In the mid-18th century, an earthquake devastated the ruins but they remained substantially intact until they were looted by Moroccan rulers to build Meknes.The site of the ancient city of Volubilis was definitively identified as such during the 19th century.Around half of the site was excavated during the period when Morocco was governed by the French, revealing many fine mosaics, and some of the more prominent buildings and houses were rebuilt or restored.A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994, it is an exceptionally well preserved example of a large Roman colonial town on the fringe of the Empire.