Lixus is an ancient Roman-Berber-Punic city on the western coast of Morocco, just north of Larache. It lies on a hill with spectacular views over the Loukkos Estuary (Lucus River) and is one of the first western Mediterranean cities. Lixus was first settled by the Phoenicians during the 8th century BC and gradually grew in importance as a trading post (in gold, ivory and slaves), later coming under Carthaginian domination.

After the destruction of Carthage, the city fell to Roman control and reached its zenith during the reign of the emperor Claudius (AD 41–54) and began exporting the fish-based garum sauce. The salt-fishing factory consisted of closely-spaced complexes with a salting capacity of over one million litres, making it the largest garum producer in the western Mediterranean. In the 3rd century AD, Lixus became nearly fully Christian. The site was abandoned in the 7th century AD and later became known to Muslims as Tuchummus when a mosque was erected.

Floors decorated in mosaics, an amphitheatre, garum-making facilities, baths, and a Paleochristian church are reminders of the splendour and prosperity of Lixus. The excavated zones (62 hectares) constitute approximately 20% of the total surface of the site.

Coordinates: 35°12’00.0″N 6°06’40.0″W


Complex 1 of the fish-salting factory, with 23 extant vats (cetariae) that functioned from AD 40/60 to early 6th.
Extant are at least 142 square and rectangular vats with a combined capacity of 1,013 cubic metres. They are located at the foot of the southern slope of the hill below the Acropolis.
Fishing vats varied in size and depth and were built of bricks and/or rubble construction, which were faced with a sealing mortar mixture of lime, forming opus signinum.
Complex 10 of the fish-salting factory, with four extant vats (cetariae) and two arched cistern chambers.
Two arched cistern chambers.
The fish factory also had two buried cisterns.
Roman bath complex.
Roman bath complex.
Small amphitheatre with a semi-circular cavea (seating section), designed to house theatrical plays and gladiatorial combats.
A theatre was built in the 1st century AD and later converted into an arena. Its stage building was then dismantled.
The cavea leans against a natural slope. Up to 7 rows of seats have been preserved.
A row of seats with letters to identify the seats.
The amphitheatre with the bath complex built against it.

The upper town.
Roman houses.
The Palace of Juba II.
The Palace of Juba II and temples.
An apotropaic phallus as a symbol to avert the evil eye.
The ruins of a Paleochristian church.
Roman houses.
The ruins of a mosque.
Venus and Adonis. This mosaic decorated the floor of a villa that once housed the wealthiest citizens of Lixus. (Photo: Roger Eritja)


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