Deposit Velocity and Its Significance

By George Gravy | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
SUMMARY

FROM the standpoint of the cultural geographer, northern Morocco is perhaps best described as an area of modified Berber culture located within the realms of Mediterranean environment and Islamic civilization. The influence of the Mediterranean environment is most clearly seen in modes of livelihood, while Islamic influence predominates in religion, language, and social organization. The persistence of traits of truly indigenous (i.e., Berber) culture is explained in large part by the lack of direct communication with the Muslim heartland and the main centers of Western civilization. Berber traits have persisted also because of environmental conditions and social circumstances that discouraged economic development and political centralization. The cultural geography of northern Morocco is best studied in the light of contingencies that are peculiar to this corner of the Old World.

The dominant physical feature of the area is the Rif mountain chain, which marks the division between a zone of effective isolation and one of peripheral passageways. The diffusion of most innovations can be traced along a hook-shaped course with the point embedded in the Ghmaran hills. The main stream of Moroccan history flows through the Taza corridor and then north or south along the Atlantic littoral. The Moulouya Valley has never been more than a minor distributary. It was followed by bedawin during the final phase of the Arab invasions, but the semiarid plains of northeastern Morocco did not attract immigrants seeking opportunities for a settled life. In contrast, the Taza corridor leads to lands of reliable rainfall and fertile soil.

The first and most important breach of the mountain rampart occurred along the ridges leading from Shawen to Targist. It was along this route that Islam and Arabic advanced most rapidly into the highlands. The same route served the Spaniards as the sole link between the western and eastern parts of their protectorate. Invaders found it easy to move along the Atlantic littoral, and a few managed to penetrate the Jbalan hills, but no major force moved into the highlands from the east or south. It is not yet certain whether the famous "Unity Road" (Tariq at-Tauhid), built immediately after independence to link Alhucemas and Fez, will prove worthy of its name.

From 1912 until 1928 the area of effective Spanish occupation was about the same as the area occupied by the Romans. The extent of the bilad al-makhzen fluctuated from reign to reign; yet even the more ambitious sultans were not able to exercise enduring influence in the Rif. Roman Morocco was a land of plains. The Arabs managed to add a large area of foothills. After numerous setbacks the Europeans were able to subdue the highlands. The present government, profiting from the accomplishments of the protectorates, has tried to unify the Moroccan people and integrate the national economy. It is no longer reasonable to describe Morocco as a primitive country rent by the hostility of Arabs and Berbers or townsmen and tribesmen. The conquest of the lands of dissidence has eliminated or at least masked the major dichotomies. Nevertheless, one is still tempted to speak of Moroccos rather than a Morocco.

-117-

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Deposit Velocity and Its Significance
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents *
  • Chapter I - INTRODUCTION: THE "NORTHERN ZONE" 1
  • Chapter II - ENVIRONMENT 12
  • Chapter III - CULTURE HISTORY PRIOR TO EUROPEAN INTERVENTION 32
  • Chapter IV - EUROPEAN INTERVENTION 55
  • Chapter V - SETTLEMENT MORPHOLOGY 65
  • Chapter VI - LIVELIHOOD 78
  • Chapter VII - EFFECTS OF SETTLEMENT ON THE LAND 95
  • Chapter VIII - SUMMARY 117
  • Appendix - VARIANT SPELLINGS OF PLACE AND LINEAGE NAMES 121
  • PLATES 123
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