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LIXUS (Larache) Morocco.

Ancient city of W Mauretania on the right bank of the Lixus (wadi Loukkos) opposite Larache. The name of the city, which was often mentioned by writers from Hanno's Periplus to the Geographer of Ravenna, is confirmed by the legend on its coins and by an inscription.

Situated roughly 4 km from the sea, the city stands on the Tchemmich hill, 80 m above the marshes through which the Loukkos flows. The ancients believed this to be the site of the Garden of the Hesperides and of a sanctuary of Hercules, more ancient than the one at Cadiz (Pliny HN 19.63). However, there are no grounds for the claim that Lixus was founded at the end of the second millennium. The earliest traces found so far go back no earlier than the 7th-6th c. B.C.; moreover, the potsherds that have been found show that the site was occupied only sporadically since, with the possible exception of the first stage of Temple H of the sanctuary (provided the date suggested for it is correct), no distinct contemporary structure has been found. The oldest build ings, in fact, apparently date from the 4th c., while the only ones that have been excavated go back just to the 3d-2d c. B.C.: Temple A of the sanctuary; in the W quarter, two-story houses without atrium or peristyle, similar to those at Tamuda; and a stone rampart, well preserved for the most part, dated variously between the 4th c. and the end of the 1st c. B.C.

At the top of the acropolis was a large sanctuary, which it is tempting to believe is that of Hercules-Melqart. Eight temples have been excavated here, the largest of which (Temple F), standing in the middle of a porticoed courtyard, covers 1500 sq m. It appears to have been put up no earlier than the reign of Juba II: the city, which was probably destroyed in the first half of the 1st c. B.C. either during Sertorius' Mauretanian expedition or in the struggle between Caesar and Pompey, was in fact rebuilt in this period. Also at this time a small amphitheater with a semicircular cavea was built some 300 m E and a group of fish-salting and garum-manufacturing workshops at the foot of the S slope of the hill. Some necropoleis dating from before the Roman conquest have been found E and W of the settlement; the oldest tombs appear to be no earlier than the 3d-2d c. B.C.

Lixus was sacked once again during the troubles that befell Mauretania after Ptolemy was assassinated. Thereafter Claudius granted the city colonial status and it recovered rapidly. Wealthy homes—the Mars and Rhea House and the Helios House on the hill and House of the Three Graces in the lower section—are evidence of its prosperity in the 2d and 3d c. A.D., as is the revival of the salting workshops. In the middle of the 3d c. the city was ravaged for the third time. Rebuilt inside a smaller rampart on the crest and S slope of the hill, it enjoyed only limited activity from then on, serving as garrison to the cohors I Herculea in the 4th c. then disappearing in the 5th-6th c. Later, a Moslem village was set up on the site; its little mosque has been mistaken for a Christian church.

The only noteworthy objects found in excavations, besides a few mosaics from the houses of the Roman period, are a very fine mask of Oceanus and two bronze groups representing Hercules struggling with Antaeus and Theseus fighting the Minotaur.


M. Tarradell, Lixus, historia de la Ciudad. Guia de las ruinas y de la sección de Lixus del Museo arqueologico de Tetuán (1959)MPI; Marruecos púnico (1960) 131-80; M. Euzennat et al., “Chroniques,” Bulletin d'Archéologie Marocaine 4 (1960) 538-44MPI; 5 (1964) 367-76; 6 (1966) 539-40; 7 (1967) 655-57; M. Ponsich, “Lixus 1963,” BAC (1963-64) 181-97; id., “Fouilles puniques et romaines à Lixus,” Hespéris-Tamuda 7 (1966) 17-22.


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