The Agdal of Marrakesh (12th to 20th Centuries): An Agricultural Space for Caliphs and Sultans. Part II: Hydraulics, Architecture, and Agriculture

in Muqarnas Online
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Abstract

The Agdal is a royal estate located south of Marrakesh, founded by the Almohad caliph Abu Yaʿqub Yusuf (r. 1163–84). Its current walled perimeter contains 340 hectares, mostly orchards that have been cultivated uninterruptedly, and more than 40 preserved buildings, with numerous archaeological remains scattered throughout its interior. This article is a continuation of one published previously in Muqarnas 34 (2017), which focused on the history of the estate and provided an analysis of the written sources. In this second part, we present an archaeological and architectural study of the Agdal from the material record that we documented in two archaeological surveys carried out in 2012 and 2014. We discuss the complex hydraulic system that has sustained the estate, the internal organization of the enclosures and plots, its diverse agricultural production, the configuration of palatine architecture and spaces for animals, as well as the successive historical transformations of the Agdal.

The Agdal of Marrakesh (12th to 20th Centuries): An Agricultural Space for Caliphs and Sultans. Part II: Hydraulics, Architecture, and Agriculture

in Muqarnas Online

Sections

Figures

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     Ideal section and working principle of a drainage gallery, known as khaṭṭāra in the local terminology. The vertical scale has been exaggerated for ease of comprehension.
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     Plan of the khaṭṭāras that supplied water to Marrakesh during the first quarter of the twentieth century. (Parroche 1925, fig. I)
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     The makhzan irrigation ditches of Tassoultant and El-Bachia. (Reprinted from Part I, published in Muqarnas 34 [2017] as fig. 11)
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    Khaṭṭāra ʿAyn Dar in the al-Garsia plot of the Agdal. A ventilation shaft has been dug into the ground, the upper opening shaped with brick masonry work. The bottom of the opening is filled with debris.
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    Khaṭṭāras that crossed the Agdal toward the Qasba and the medina.
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     Agdal. General sketch of the estate indicating the architectural and archaeological structures that we have noted. The sizes of the heritage assets have been enhanced to enable their identification. (Reprinted from Part I, published in Muqarnas 34 [2017] as fig. 3)
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     Al-Garsia plot showing reservoir with central islet.
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     Plan of the Agdal estate titled “Aguedal. Marrakech,” scale 1:5,000, circa early twentieth century (exact date unknown). The plan details the circulation of water within the estate.
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     Agdal. General plan of the Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ at present. (Reprinted from Part I, published in Muqarnas 34 [2017] as fig. 1)
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     Surge tower D1, ʿAyn Dar khaṭṭāra (Dakhlani plot).
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     Surge tower D10, ʿAyn Dar khaṭṭāra (Dakhlani plot).
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     Surge tower D8, ʿAyn Dar khaṭṭāra (Dakhlani plot).
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     Surge tower D9, ʿAyn Dar khaṭṭāra (Dakhlani plot).
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     Working diagram of a surge tower of the first type. (Based on Parroche 1925, Lam. III, fig. 3)
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     Surge tower Z6, ʿAyn Zemzemia khaṭṭāra (Zahiria plot).
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     Surge tower Z2, ʿAyn Zemzemia khaṭṭāra (Zahiria plot).
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     Surge tower D4, ʿAyn Dar khaṭṭāra (Dakhlani plot).
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     Surge tower D3, ʿAyn Dar khaṭṭāra (Dakhlani plot).
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     Surge tower Z5, ʿAyn Zemzemia khaṭṭāra (Zahiria plot).
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     Hypothetical reconstruction of the Agdal during the Almohad and Saadi periods.
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     Plan of Marrakesh and of the Agdal drawn up by Lieutenant Washington in 1830. Despite its lack of precision, the plan offers important information, attesting to the existence of the southern wall of the original Agdal at the time, before the creation of the Haj Lahcen and Belfkih plots. The palatial complex of the Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ can be seen, attached to this wall, on the inside.
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     Plan of the oil press in the Belhaj lot, superimposed on the hypothetical layout of the Agdal’s original northern wall.
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     Northern wall of the oil press, eastern end (Belhaj plot). The tower of the Agdal’s original northern front was adapted for a new use.
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     Outer wall of the Agdal’s western front, showing a section attached to the Salha plot. The current wall (1) sits on the remains of an older one (2), whose tower (3) was not rebuilt.
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     General plan of the plots of the Agdal, indicating access ways and the main network of paths at the beginning of the twentieth century.
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     Northern gate (Bab Tamesna) of the Belhaj plot.
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     Avenue connecting the gate of the Musalla (1) with the Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ, flanked by the gates of the Belhaj (2) and al-Garsia (3) sectors.
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     Western gate (Bab Saghir) of the Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure.
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     Southern gate of the Zahiria plot.
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     Southeastern gate of the Dakhlani plot.
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     View of the olive tree plantations in the Belhaj plot from within the estate, with the Atlas Mountains in the background.
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     Photograph taken from the al-Manzeh pavilion showing the central sector of the Agdal. Along the central axis, the northern wall of the Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ can be seen, as well as the path that leads to the gate of the Musalla. On the left is the olive tree plantation of the Belhaj plot, without its walls. On the right are the cultivated beds of the Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ, its perimeters lined with olive trees to protect the more delicate species.
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     Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure. View of the northern industrial complex from the al-Manzeh pavilion showing the aqueduct of the northern mill (1), northern mill (2), and munitions dump (3).
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     Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure. Northern industrial complex.
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     Old postcards depicting the Dar al-Inzaha, or Picnic Pavilion, in the Zahiria sector.
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     Dar al-Inzaha, or Picnic Pavilion, in the Zahiria sector: A. Photograph of its current state. B. Plan. The information obtained from our fieldwork is complemented by an analysis of historical photographs, which allow us to know what the pavilion would have looked like before a fire destroyed it in the 1930s.
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     Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure. Plans, elevations, and sections of the al-Manzeh pavilion. Our hypothetical reconstruction of the palatial enclosure’s ancient gate is marked in beige on the ground floor.
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     Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure, al-Manzeh pavilion. A. View from the northeast with industrial complex door on the right. B. Current state of neglect of the roof terrace.
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     Dar al-Bayda and enclosed central path connecting to the Qasba. On the sides of the path are the Djenan Redouan, Sousia, and Dakhlani plots, which were part of the Alaouite extension that ended up directly connecting the Agdal with the Mechuars and the Qasba.
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     Western gate pavilion (Dakhlani plot): A. Western facade. B. Eastern façade. C. Floor plan of original building.
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     Interior detail of a cross-frame timber structure in the western gate pavilion (Dakhlani plot).
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     Dakhlani pavilion, surrounded by substandard homes.
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     Agdal. Hypothetical reconstruction of the Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ during the reign of al-Mansur (1578–1603). (Reprinted from Part I, published in Muqarnas 34 [2017] as fig. 12)
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     Southern wall of the Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure, western half: A. View from the roof terrace of the palace. The rammed earth wall in the foreground probably belonged to the first design of the Saadi palace; the elevation of a thinner rammed earth wall with less lime content in the background belongs to the Saadi enclosure. B. View from the west, showing a stretch of rammed earth wall in relation to the southern side of the existing building.
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     Eastern side of the reservoir in the Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure, showing: lower walkway (1); upper walkway (2); casing of the stairway structure (3); eastern pavilion that was once attached to the reservoir basin (4); al-Manzeh pavilion (5).
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     Cube-shaped buttress on the northeastern corner of the large reservoir in the Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure. Around it, the lower walkway bordered by a small brick channel.
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     Southwestern corner of reservoir basin, Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure: excavated groove on the wall (1); channel from the south bordering the reservoir basin (2); modern reinforced concrete catch basin (3); al-Manzeh pavilion (4).
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     Aerial photograph of the Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure from 1917, taken by the 554 Squadron of the French army, with detail of the residential building.
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      Residential building, Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure. Historical photograph taken from the roof terrace: reservoir (1); northwest corner of the courtyard of the secondary unit C (2); wall separating staircase A3 from secondary unit C (3); traces of the demolished structure of the upper floor above space A2 (4); possible alcove on a vault structure above the first flight of staircase A3 (6); landing of staircase A3 (7); al-Manzeh pavilion (8).
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     Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure. Photograph taken from the al-Manzeh pavilion, looking southward. In the foreground, the central path with the ramp (1) and reservoir (2). In the background are the residential building (3), boathouse (4), and stables (5).
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     Southeastern corner of the reservoir basin in the Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure, seen from the south. In the foreground, the lower walkway with its small perimeter channel and a sluice to water the area next to it.
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     Western side of the great reservoir in the Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure. Remains of the landing of one of the former stairways on the northern end, in a rowlock brick course.
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     Eastern side of the reservoir in the Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure. Remains of the stairway that connected the two walkways on the northern end: A. Starter structure of the vault (1); lateral parapets (2); passageway blocked off with stone masonry and reused bricks (3); casing of the stairway structure (4). B. Bird’s-eye view of the lower walkway with the imprint of the structure of the stairway, which is no longer extant.
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     Eastern side of the reservoir in the Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure, showing the remains of the stairway that once connected the two walkways on the southern end. A. Hypothetical layout of the stairway. B. View of the casing of the stairway.
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     Northern side of the reservoir in the Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure, eastern end. Frontal view of wall with former drainage channel framed by two small brick arches. On the upper part, the remains of the landing of a stairway can be seen, flanked by two brick pillars that belonged to the jambs of the opening. In the foreground are remains of the starter steps of the stairway that must have been built beyond the lower walkway, judging from the great height of the upper platform.
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     Northern side of the reservoir in the Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure, eastern end. Plans, elevations, and sections with remains of the stairs and hypothetical original layout.
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     Archaeological remains of the reservoir’s eastern pavilion, Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure. Photograph taken from the upper walkway: rammed earth and lime perimeter wall of the platform (1); lower walkway (2); perimeter channel (3); brick casing of the starter steps of a stairway (4); earthen ramp for machinery (5).
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     Archaeological remains of the reservoir’s eastern pavilion, Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure. Plan and section of the preserved structures.
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     Hypothetical reconstruction of the reservoir’s eastern pavilion, Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure.
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     Land estate of al-Rummaniyya (Córdoba). Plan drawn by Felix Arnold.
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     Agdal. Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure. Hypothetical plan of the palace of al-Mansur with southern archaeological remains (A). (Reprinted from Part I, published in Muqarnas 34 [2017] as fig. 9)
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     Residential building, Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure. Hypothetical plans and sections of al-Mansur’s design. The lower section of the main complex (A) has been studied through the preserved remains. We have no accurate information regarding the upper floor; however, a hypothetical organization of its layout has been proposed, along with the pavilions it might have accommodated.
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     Residential building, Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure. Plans of the nineteenth-century Alaouite refurbishment. This spatial proposal is based on archaeological remains and historical photographs taken prior to the twentieth-century restoration.
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     Residential building, Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure. Plan of its current state.
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     Residential building, Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure. Elevation of the southern wall. A. View from the southwest at present. B. Elevation of its current state with crenellations insinuated.
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     Residential building, Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure. Elevation of the southern wall. Detail of reused crenellations when the wall was raised (see fig. 65.1).
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     Al-Badiʿ palace. Restitution of the palace plan drawn by Antonio Almagro.
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     Residential building, Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure. Central section A1. Elevation of northern wall in the southern bay. On the upper part, the lunettes of the cross vaults can be seen, which were substituted by a sequence of five vaults set on buttresses attached to the wall. On the sides, the openings that led to the alcoves at either end of the hall have been blocked off by Paccard’s late-twentieth-century design.
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     Residential building, Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure. Central section A1. Southern bay, eastern end; showing the chronological sequence of the different vaulting solutions that covered the space. On the upper part, the lunettes of the large cross vaults (in orange) were substituted by a sequence of smaller vaults, in which the longitudinal vault sits on the five vaults bellow it (in white). These would be demolished later when Paccard’s project was carried out in the late twentieth century.
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     Residential building, Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure. Central section A1. Photograph of the southern wall of the southern hall. Even though the cross vault system has been demolished as a result of Paccard’s design, it can still be appreciated thanks to a lunette that has been preserved on the axis above the door.
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     Residential building, Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure. Central section A1. Historical photograph of unknown date (ca. early twentieth century). Taken from near the edge of the reservoir, looking south. The north wall of the northern hall, which is no longer extant, can be seen here. By the time this photo was taken, the north portico of the building had been demolished, but its imprints are visible in the lateral walls.
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     Residential building, Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure. Section A2. Interior view of the hall, with photo-elevation and restitution of its vaults. The impact of Paccard’s late-twentieth-century design can be appreciated here.
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     Residential building, Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure. Section A3. Section with photo-elevation of the eastern staircase. Under the modern stairs, the imprint of the brick vaults of the former stairs and the lunettes of the landings can be observed. The opening under the stairs has been formalized with modern concrete, transforming the door that existed there at one time.
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     Residential building, Dar al-Hana⁠ʾ enclosure. Lateral unit A4 showing the space inside the vault. In the background is the dividing wall; in the foreground is the base of the unfinished wall, which was designed to support the load of the upper floor structures during the first Alaouite refurbishment.
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     Menara. Ornamental platform with octagonal pool attached to the eastern side of the great reservoir. In the background, to the right, the residential pavilion looking over the southern end of the reservoir.
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     Plans and view of the interior of the Agdal’s stables.
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     Stables of the Agdal. Photograph taken from the roof of the residential building, looking toward the southeast. In the foreground is the appendix building that connected the stables with the palace, which is currently occupied by a substandard home.
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     Engraving of Tunisia and its surroundings by Agostino Veneziano, 1535. In the upper corner an estate with an enclosure is represented, labeled Thiergarten (“house of beasts”); within it, two deer roam.

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