Rabat- Morocco’s Ministry of Culture and Communication has stressed that researchers must request government permission before excavating archeological sites.
“No person is allowed to dig or conduct sea explorations … that may have historical, archeological or anthropological benefits for Morocco, or one that concerns humanities in general,” said the ministry in a statement on Tuesday, September 11.
Abiding by Law 22.80 on the protection and preservation of Morocco’s cultural heritage, including historical buildings, antiques, and inscriptions, the ministry calls for researchers who wish to explore to request authorization at least six months in advance.
People may submit an application to regional bureaus under the ministry’s supervision. Permits will be valid for one year with the possibility of extension.
The validity of the permit may be renewed for longer periods of time by submitting a request three months ahead of the expiration date.
If the permit expires while a researcher is in the process of renewal, the researcher can still receive the desired extension period, but must wait for the permit to be reauthorized.
In the past, some individuals illegally excavated private property or state property in search of treasure or other materials of significant value.
In 2017, groups of “treasure hunters” vandalized Gantrat El Fellous and Dar Oum Sultan, two historical sites in the rural commune of Ait Sibern between Rabat and Fez, according to national heritage management officials.
Gantrat El Fellous is a historic bridge and an architectural monument built by the Almohad dynasty in the 12th century.
The heritage director of the Ministry of Culture, Abdellah Alaoui, described the acts as “crimes against national historic monuments,” that “represent a great historical and architectural value which must be preserved.”
The Ministry of Culture is promoting a draft law to significantly bolster the protection and preservation of Morocco’s vast cultural heritage. The ministry also emphasized the significance of Decree 2.17.664, which classifies the archaeological site Jebel Irhoud as an official national heritage site.
Jebel Irhoud is where archaeologists discovered the oldest remains of Homo sapiens in June 2017. The decree gives the ministry significant oversight responsibility to protect the archaeological site as excavation work continues.
The ministry expects the new policies for identifying, protecting, and promoting cultural resources to be a driving force for Morocco’s economic development, as well as an essential element of genuine sustainable development.