AN OUTSTANDING HISTORICAL SITE IN THE SOUTH OF MOROCCO
A mystery remains the relationship between Ali bin Mohamed Aït Ben Haddou, known at Tamdakht, and the rest of the Aït Ben Haddou clan?
Oral tradition talks about the existence of two tribal confederations in the region.
The first included: Itelouan, Tikkirt, Aït Lhussain, Tamakucht and Aït Ouaziz while the second included:Ait Zineb, Ait Semgan and Imeghan with allies (ameqq) Aït Ben Haddou. In case of conflict, for example against the Ait Ouaouzguit Taourit or Tazenakht, they were using their allies.
The djemaâ Ait Ben Haddou consisted of twelve persons called imejmàen (or ineflas), and chaired by a amghar or sheikh. At the time of Glaoua they had after their election by the people, appear before the caïd of Telouet signature to confirm their legitimacy. Members of djemaâ were elected no consensus every year in June after moussem Sidi Ali or Amer.
Were elected adults (must be male) who knew more about the interests of qbila regardless of social status. Terms
legal, Islamic law was used especially in matters of inheritance. However, customary law was also used. For example, if a resident killed another, he had to take refuge in Imeghran for one year, after which he returned to the village to kill an animal to seek forgiveness from the family of the victim, (with an agreement).
The habitat is by excellence a loyal reflection of the socio-economic, political and natural environment which it emerges. The former habitat Aït Ben Haddou is attached to the south side of a hill as to avoid the winds of the mountain, sunbathing.
The climate of insecurity, perpetual instability that prevailed allows us to understand the defensive aspect of all these constructions. This atmosphere is reflected in the site, construction techniques, in the same functions of the buildings (guard towers, attic, walls, etc..).
Strategic position on the trade way between the southern zone and northern cities, disputes to water points and pastures explain the grouped shape, easy to defend homes. The choice of site is significant because it allows both to monitor roads, crop areas, water intakes and defend against potential enemy. Houses to better cope with external dangers are grouped, piled and joined to each other fearfully. The exterior walls are blind and high, the access is controlled. The ksar has three doors, that of Imi n’Ighrem,’Imi n’Talat n’Tighoura and Imi n’ou Azerg Aït Ben Haddou.. All these doors are guarded and closed by night.
The Ksourien space is divided into two spaces theoretically : the collective space and private space.
The oldest inhabited context
The first is formed by the spaces are located instantly to the east fringe of the village: it constitutes threshing areas, two cemeteries (Jewish and Muslim), and internal spaces such as guest houses, the big place reserved the celebrations of the douar, welcoming the guests passenger groups caravan and street vendors. The mosque with his arrogance, his well, his Koranic school is a places that most interest to all residents of the douaras well the alleyways and labyrinths that connect neighborhoods and homes. The maintenance of these public spaces and community buildings such is provided by the community.
The private space is formed by all homes. There are at least two forms of architecture: the houses belonging to the dominant family (6-7 kasbahs) characterized by the rise in height. The Châtelets of amghars were built on two or three levels. The elevation height was probably commissioned by the area's economy, concern for defense, but also by strategic concerns.
The ground floor usually includes several rooms surrounding a courtyard. They were used as an informant described (Jamaleddine) deposit of arms, provisions, but we must consider that this use is specific only to the kasbahs amghars, while the same kind of house building also on the ground floor animals and serves as a repository for forages, wood and agricultural equipment. The first floor served as a granary for grains, vegetables and dried fruits in addition to the provisions in olive oil and butter. The upper floor is reserved for the daily life, while the towers (bordj) are an excellent place of welcome for guests (decorated towers).
The terrace also plays several roles dryer for agricultural products and dormitory during the nights warmer weather. This is why the walls of the terraces are generally high. These magnificent kasbahs dominate a lower number of dependencies, such as the court reserved for animals, barn and even the kitchen which is already out of the main building.
In return, the houses that form the habitat of the mass of the population, even if they are dominant because of the sloping topography, characterized by their small area and their arrangement following the contour lines.
In fact, it is first useful to know the setup of all homes order. The slip is it made from the top of the hill down? this means that the clan Aït Ben Haddou took last place, but the most beautiful? or bottom to top, which means that the masters have selected the best places and subjects climbed the slope. The second hypothesis is unlikely because the dominant position of the houses of "poor" is not likely to leave indifferent amghars. If the first hypothesis is true, it means that the Châtelets amghars are the most recent, including of course the home of Sheikh Brahim, who chose a dominant reasons of non availability of ground site.
These houses between 80 and 120 m2, if they are in the form of compact housing, generally without a floor, do not present a great architectural interest. The streets are narrow and covered places, the walls are blind. At this stage, the advanced state of degradation which affects these buildings does not allow us to speculate on their internal architecture, or on the social life of the inhabitants. It might be interesting to return by systematic surveys of all households, economic and social functioning of the living space.
According to informants, construction techniques developed have been lacking Ait Ben Haddou. Large maâlems (artisans) were sought on the side of Tissint (Iflillisn) of Tikert (Ben Alash), but especially towards Skoura and Imaghrane. The work was performed by chores imposed by amghars. Similarly most roofing materials, apart from the tamarisk was imported; Reed, oleander, were transported on donkeys and mules, from Taghzout Aït Touaya (road Tazenakht) or Assermou Id Boukhatri. Beams and girders, themselves, were imported. Only the mud was taken on site after soaked in water (jammar).
The construction techniques are among the most widespread in southern Morocco: the mud walls are molded between two boards whose measures differ depending on the height and size of the boxes to build. The upper part of the buildings is constructed of sun-dried bricks. To overcome the effect of moisture, the basement walls are made of dry stones. The rammed earth wall thickness also have an effect on weather conditions.
The geometric motifs that form the decoration of the walls are obtained by different arrangements of the brick and straw mixed with water used for plastering walls. Ridges on the walls, wooden elements or assemblies sections reeds beyond about 20 to 30 cm to protect them from the rain.
This harmoniously habitat integrated with its natural and human environment , has now fallen into disuse result of the abandonment of the public housing and negligence in maintaining homes. He was replaced by another form of buildings which, at first glance reflects, to say, an oversight or a disdain of all traditions and the art of building.
After independence, the last of Sheikh Aït Ben Haddou, the Amghar Brahim, lost functions. The decline of the village became predictable. It is manifested in the alteration of old structures. Declining powers of the clan without being the unique explanation of the new situation, mingled with a variety of internal and external elements to accelerate the disintegration of the system.
Residents of the Kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou build, one after the other mansions on the west side of the assif Marghen; thus constituted Issiroid. Recently, an association named Ait Aissa was founded, perhaps to denounce, at least at the level of symbol, the monopolization of powers exercised for a long time by the clan Aït Ben Haddou.
At what time in the history of the clan, kasbahs were built? Is this during the heyday of the clan before the late nineteenth century? or after the alliance with Glaoua? In any case, the lack of similarity between the the castle of Tamdakht, and Châtelets of Ait Ben Haddou, and especially the last built by ben Brahim Amghar Hsaïn is something that intrigues. It is a fact that a significant architectural difference emerges between Châtelets of Ait Ben Haddou and the whole miniature dwell forming the fabric of the site.
The turbulent history of Aït Ben Haddou has left an original architecture and a very complete and complicated residential setting. This context reflects a social formation and hierarchical socio-spatial organization. The elements of this social formation are: the clan Aït Ben Haddou, with its boughs and Ait Ait Hamd Ougourram. It is unequivocally the most powerful clan, followed by the four lineages Ait Aissa who claim to be the ancient inhabitants of the village Aït Bahaddou, Ait Lahsaïn Ait Ali o Hamad and Aït Ali Saïd. These clans have long been enslaved. Finally comes a Jewish community whose presence is attested until the end of fifties.
Socio-economic projection of these three strata on the living space was easily attachable: the Châtelets formed the habitats people in power, the Mellah the Jewish community, while the houses of the poor were the part inhabited by the mass : Aït Aissa and servants of Amghars.