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Berber Cave Dwellings

Atlas Mountains of Morocco


Berber Cave Dwellings

Nomadic Architecture that is Permanent Dwelling Periodically Occupied

Caves may, or may not, represent the earliest of human dwellings, and there is evidence that many formed permanent homes for more settled communities. They are not usually the realm of nomads, for once a group has left a cave empty, it becomes available for another group to occupy. However, the peaceful Atlas Mountain Berber nomads keep a time honoured respect for each family's different caves, while at the same time maintining that no-one owns, or even has rights of occupation to, any particular cave. This is a very healthy response to questions of land ownership. While you need it, it is yours, when you no onger need it, it is free for someone else.

The caves are occupied typically during the colder months, when the nomads will bring their flocks down from the peaks to lowland areas closer to local villages and away from the snows. In the summer months they slowly climb the heights, occupying a series of small caves as the months go by, until in summer they use small black tents to pitch in the highest areas. Of course, this brings the families closer together, and summer is a time also for meetings and marriages.

Most of the caves are naturally formed, but not deep. Many have been adapted over generations, some by the simple addition of a few boulders to keep the winds from the fire, others quite elaborately with caves merging into stock pens and with new chambers being excavated for different parts of the family.


Summer 2016

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Cave Dwelling Nomads

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