Gardens of the Hesperides: The Rural Archaeology of the Loukkos Valley

This listing expired on June 1, 2018. Please contact for any updated information.

Location: Larache, MA

Season: July 1, 2018 to July 28, 2018

Deadline Type: Rolling


Program Type:

RPA Certified:

Institut National des Sciences de l'Archéologie et du Patrimoine (INSAP), University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT-Knoxville)

Project Director:
Prof. Aomar Akerraz (INSAP) and Prof. Stephen A. Collins-Elliott (UT-Knoxville)

Project Description:

The multi-year archaeological project Gardens of the Hesperides: The Rural Archaeology of the Loukkos Valley comprises a joint Moroccan-American (INSAP-University of Tennessee) initiative to survey and reconstruct the economic development of the Loukkos valley around the ancient city of Lixus (near Larache, Morocco)—a major entrepôt along the Atlantic coast, and in classical mythology, one of the purported locations of the Gardens of the Hesperides.

The project has four primary objectives:

  • 1. Model rural settlement patterns in the valley of the Oued Loukkos from the Atlantic coast near Larache (Lixus) to El Qsar el-Kebir (Oppidum Novum), in order to assess levels of settlement hierarchy and complexity from the Iron Age onward.
  • 2. Model the exploitation of plant and animal resources around Lixus and the consumption of both terrestrial and maritime commodities, toward reconstructing a holistic picture of the ancient rural economy.
  • 3. Determine the impact of the provincialization of Morocco by the Roman emperor Claudius after 40 CE on the hinterland around Lixus.
  • 4. Compare the evolution of the regional economy of the Ager Lixitanus at a broad level with that of the western Mediterranean, to evaluate the level of integration of Lixus in the Roman Empire.

The 2018 season continues the program of survey following the completion of the 2016 and 2017 seasons, toward the completion of the first goal. This survey combines both intensive fieldwalking and extensive methods, and is open to volunteers. No archaeological experience is required. Participants with experience and interest in computational digital approaches to archaeology, as well as those with an interest in ecological and environmental approaches, are encouraged. Participants will receive training in all aspects of archaeological survey. Weekend site-trips to cities, museums, and key archaeological sites such as Tangier, Tamuda, Volubilis, and Chellah will also enrich participants’ experience and understanding of Morocco’s archaeological heritage.

Period(s) of Occupation: Mauretanian, Roman, Medieval

Interested participants should contact Prof. Collins-Elliott directly for further details about the season.

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Age: 18

Experience Required: No experience required.

Room and Board Arrangements:
Project participants are housed in modern apartments in the city of Larache. Meals are provided by the project from Monday through Saturday. Breakfast is taken in your apartment, with a morning snack and lunch in the field. Dinners are communal, with each evening's meal prepared by local cooks, consisting of traditional Moroccan cuisine. Please let the project director know of any dietary restrictions! Cost: There are no project fees for participants: travel to and from Morocco and travel/health insurance are the participant's responsibility.

Contact Information:

Stephen A. Collins-Elliott

1101 McClung Tower





Phone: 865-974-5404

Fax: 865-974-7173

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