Moors_ Mosques_ and Medinas A ge by pengtt


									         Moors, Mosques, and Medinas: A Geography of Morocco
                          January 4-18, 2007
                     GEOG 459/IS 490—3 credits

Richard Benfield, Associate Prof., Geography, 832-2879,
Cynthia Pope, Associate Prof., Geography, 832-2799,

Pre-Departure class sessions will be held between December 18 and 22, 2006 (final exam

Course description

Moors, Mosques, and Medinas: A geography of Morocco

In this unique wintersession course abroad, we will use a geographic lens to examine the
diverse ecological, cultural, and ethnic landscapes of Morocco. We make a loop of the
country starting and ending in Casablanca, staying over in Rabat, Meknes, Fes, Erfound,
Ourzazate, and Marrakesh. Along the way, we will visit nomads, health researchers,
tourism officials, souks, and kasbahs. This course is intended to introduce students to the
physical and human geography of Morocco, and to the maghreb (―North Africa‖ or
―West‖) more generally. This program will teach participants how to use a spatial
perspective and critical eye to observe, understand, and respect North African ways of
life, a region very misunderstood and often mythologized in the West. The aim of the
program is to provide a comprehensive political, historical, economic and cultural
background of Morocco in the context of present day North Africa.

Students will have the opportunity to learn about how Moroccans are adjusting to an
increasingly global world while maintaining historical traditions. We will contrast the
bustling metropolis of Casablanca with the desert oases and cliff dwellings of the Atlas
Mountains. We will visit ancient mosques and examine animistic religions. Participants
will investigate traditional North African and Arab ideas that will be contrasted with
post-modern and post-colonial politics of Morocco in which is found a rich interplay of
core and periphery, the sacred and the secular, past and future, and globalization versus

Each day of the 14-day seminar will address a different geographic topic. These topics
include Women in Islamic Society, Landscapes of Islam, The Islamic city, Climate and
Desert Geomorphology, The desert Trilogy: Nomadism, the village and the city, Health
and Development, Tourism Landscapes, Historic landscapes of the Maghreb, Islamic
Architecture and Gardens, and Economic Development in the Developing world.

Course requirements:
For this course it is proposed to utilize ten modules that correspond, roughly, to ten full
days of study in Morocco. Each day the instructors will focus on the day’s topic by use of
field exercises, walking lecture tours and field mapping. Students will receive a two page
briefing paper on each of the topics including a short reading list/bibliography.

At the conclusion of the course students will write ten 3-4 page papers on each topic to
show what they have discovered in these topic areas.

Topics are:

   1. Women in Islamic Society
   2. Landscapes of Islam
   3. The Islamic city
   4. Climate and Desert Geomorphology
   5. The desert Trilogy: Nomadism, the village and the city
   6. Health and Development
   7. Tourism Landscapes
   8. Historic landscapes of the Maghreb
   9. Islamic Architecture and Gardens
   10. Economic Development in the Developing world

Grade components
Pre-departure exercise=10%
10 3-4 page papers=8% each, total=80%
Participation in all activities and exercises=10% (1% per day)

Course Materials
A course pack will be provided to each student, which includes readings, travel tips,
emergency contact information, and a phone list for accommodations in Morocco.

Additionally, we suggest purchasing a good guide book, such as Rough Guide or Lonely
Planet. Make sure to bring this with you on the trip, or at least make copies of the pages
with the locations we will be studying.

                           Topic Areas and Modules
                          One per day according to the itinerary

Dr. Pope’s Modules

                             Women in Islamic society

This day’s module will concentrate on the construction of gendered roles within Islam
and particularly within Morocco. Since 1999, women have been granted rights in the
legal, economic, and political sectors that are more advanced than at any time in recent
history. We will analyze women’s roles in daily life, as well as foreign reactions to the
―Mudawana‖ policies. The following is an example of a press release about the EU

EU Welcomes Moroccan Family Code Reform

Brussels, Oct 24, 1999 - The European Union has welcomed the reform of the Family
law, known as "Mudawana", announced recently on Oct.10 by H.M King Mohammed VI
at the parliament.

The reform aims, among other things, to implement the principle of equality between
men and women, said the EU chairmanship in a statement published at the end of the
third meeting of the EU-Morocco Association Committee held on October 21 in Rabat

The new Family Code that is still to be discussed by the parliament was welcomed as
"revolutionary" both in Morocco and worldwide.

Under the new family law, women in Morocco are to win greater marriage and divorce
rights, in line with the spirit of the Quran's teachings as was put by the Moroccan
monarch. The minimum age for women to marry is to be raised from 15 to 18, to equal
that of men, and women will get property rights in the marriage. Women will also be able
to divorce their husbands, rather than just the other way round, and unlike previous
conditions, divorce will require a judge's approval.

The new law also sets stringent conditions that make polygamy almost impossible for

Source: ―Women in Morroco,‖ Accessed May
29, 2006.

                              Cultural Landscapes of Islam

This section will examine the cultural traditions of Morocco, particularly its Islamic
character and its interesting situation of being considered the ―least Arab‖ country in the
Arab world. After reading about these cultural characteristics, we will then examine how
the culture is expressed in the built landscapes of the sites we will be visiting. We will see
how the imprint of cultures can be seen in urban, semi-urban, and rural settings.

The following is excerpted from Wikipedia:

Through Morocco’s history, the country has hosted many people coming from both East
(Berbers, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Jews and Arabs), South (Africans) and North
(Romans, Vandals, Moors and Jews). All those civilizations should have an impact on the
social structure of Morocco, and the country hosts many different forms of religious
beliefs, from paganism, Judaism, Christianity to Islam.

Geographically, each region possesses its own unique characteristics. Ethnically and
culturally speaking, Morocco nowadays can be considered the least Arabic among Arab
countries. Most of its population are of Berber origins. About 40% acknowledge a Berber
identity, though many more have Berber ancestry. Berbers are identified primarily by
language but also by traditional customs and culture - such as the distinctive music and
dances. Berber is not yet officially recognized in Morocco, though French (the colonial
language) is. Arabic remains the official language of Morocco and used in daily socio-
economic and cultural activities.

Linguistically, Berber belongs to the Afro-Asiatic group, and has many dialects. The
three main dialects used in Morocco are Tachelhit, Tamazight and Tarifit. Collectively,
those berber languages they are known as "chelha" in Arabic.

Tachelhit (sometimes known as "soussia" or "chelha") is spoken in south-west Morocco,
in an area between Sidi Ifni in the south, Agadir in the north and Marrakech and the
Draa/Sous valleys in the east. Tamazight is spoken in the Middle Atlas, between Taza,
Khemisset, Azilal and Errachidia. Tarifit (or Rifia) is spoken in the Rif area of northern

More detailed information about Berber languages are found in this main article.

Although Berbers were eventually converted to Islam, their ethnic and linguistic purity
has remained. More than a dozen Amazigh associations were created in the last few
years. Newsstands and bookstores in all the major cities are filled with new Amazigh
magazines and other publications that provide articles about the Amazigh (Berber)
culture. The state owned TV station RTM has started brodcasting news bulletins in the 3
Berber languages since the mid 90's.

                       Health and Development in Morocco

This day’s module will discuss the demographic transition model and how it pertains to
health care and economic development in Morocco. Morocco has a declining birth rate,
which differs from many of its neighbors’ rates. This will have a positive result for the
economy of the country.

The basic reading will be the following from

Fertility Decline and Reproductive Health in Morocco: New DHS Figures

by Mohamed Ayad and Farzaneh Roudi

(May 2006) The "fertility transition"—the shift from large to small families that
demographers have observed throughout much of the world—has been remarkably rapid
in Morocco, according to a recently released demographic and health survey on that

The 2003-2004 Demographic and Health Survey found that Moroccan women were
having 2.5 children on average—three fewer births than the average recorded in 1980.
The change has been particularly dramatic among women living in rural areas, whose
fertility declined from 6.6 births in 1980 to 3.0 births on average in 2004 (see Table 1).

Table 1
Fertility Decline in Morocco, 1962 to 2003-04

                                     Average number of births per woman
         Survey Year
                                      Total           Urban           Rural
           2003-04                     2.5             2.1             3.0
           1996-97                     3.1             2.3             4.1
             1992                      4.0             2.2             4.3
             1987                      4.8             3.2             6.0
           1979-80                     5.6             4.5             6.6
             1962                      7.0             7.0             6.9

Source: Moroccan Ministry of Health, ORC Macro, and League of Arab Nations,
Demographic and Health Survey: Morocco 2003-2004 Final Report (2005).

But while these and other health indicators for women and children have improved
substantially in Morocco, the country still faces many challenges regarding women and
reproductive health, including limited contraceptive options, disparities between rich and
poor in access to contraception, and a need to translate revised family laws into practical
legal progress for women.

Factors in Morocco 's Fertility Decline

Morocco's fertility decline is primarily attributable to increases there in women's average
age at marriage and in married women's contraceptive use. The proportion of all young
Moroccan women ages 15-19 who were married dropped from 21 percent in 1980 to 11
percent in 2004. During the same period, the proportion of women ages 20-24 who were
married dropped from 64 percent to 36 percent, and contraceptive use among married
women of reproductive age increased from 19 percent to 63 percent.

Socioeconomic improvements have played a role in spurring both the rising age at
marriage and Moroccans' desire for smaller families, as an increasing number of girls
have been entering school and remaining in school longer. For example, between 1992
and 2004, the proportion of girls ages 15-24 years with no education in Morocco
decreased from 50 percent to 34 percent, and the proportion of those with secondary and
higher educational attainment increased from 29 percent to 42 percent.

And although unemployment among young Moroccan women remains much higher than
young men, more and more girls in the 15-24 age group are entering the labor force—
especially in export processing industries and export agriculture as well as clothing
manufacturing, microfinance, and tourism.

A Political Commitment to Family Planning

The Moroccan government's commitment to women's and reproductive health issues has
also played a key role in these trends. During the last three decades, family planning has
spearheaded progress in basic health care for Morocco. The country's family planning
program started in 1966, when both a national population commission and local
population commissions were established. Among the most significant early
achievements of the program was the repeal in 1967 of the French Law, which prohibited
the advertising, sale, and distribution of contraceptives.

During the 1990s, issues related to human rights and women's rights increasingly gained
political attention in Morocco. Inspired by the 1994 United Nations' International
Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and the 1995 Fourth World
Conference on Women, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) working for the
advancement of women began flourishing throughout the country. The national
population commission was also reactivated in 1996 through the Ministry for Economic
Forecasting and Planning, whose mandate (along with the 16 regional commissions) was
to ensure the integration of population concerns into development planning.

By the end of the 1990s, Morocco had made such impressive gains in family planning
and maternal and child health that the U.S. Agency for International Development
(USAID), the country's largest grant donor in family planning and reproductive health,
decided to phase out its direct assistance to the country's health, population, and nutrition
sector. In 2003, the Moroccan Ministry of Health started to purchase contraceptives
without any financial contribution from donors and partners in development.

Thanks to its strong household service delivery, the Moroccan government has been
crucial in meeting the rising demand for contraception—particularly in making modern
contraceptives available to low-income and rural women who would otherwise not have
access to private-sector services. In 2004, more than 50 percent of married women in
rural areas were using a modern family planning method—an increase from 8 percent in
1980. Such an increase in modern contraceptive use is significant, especially because
one-half of women in Morocco ages 15-49 years have no formal education and 65
percent in rural areas.

These efforts have helped narrow the gap between the poor and rich segments of
Moroccan society in access to family planning services and (to some extent) in access to
broader reproductive health services. For instance, the average difference in family size
between the country's poorest and richest quintiles was narrowed by three children
between 1992 and 2004 (see Table 2).1 Over the same period, modern contraceptive use
among married women in the poorest quintile rose from 18 percent to 51 percent—not far
behind that of women in the richest quintile.

                                History of the Maghreb

 ―Maghreb‖ is a term that means ―West‖ in Arabic and is applied to Morocco and other
North African countries. Given that there is a distinct word to represent this region, it is
important to understand historically why this division exists between North Africa and
the Middle East, even though both regions are Islamic and Arabic in nature.

The passage below is excerpted from Wikipedia:

From the end of the Ice Age, when the Sahara Desert dried up, contact between the
Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa was extremely limited by the difficulty in crossing the
desert. This remained the case until after the time of the Arab expansion and the spread of
Islam; even then, trans-Saharan trade was restricted to costly (but often profitable)
caravan expeditions, trading such goods as salt, gold, ivory, and slaves.

Originally, the Maghreb was inhabited by "European" Cro-Magnoids (Iberomaurusians)
in the north and by "African" peoples in the Sahara. Later, about 8000 BC, there came
from the east "European" speakers of northern Afro-Asiatic languages such as Berber at
least since the Capsian culture.

Many ports along the Maghreb coast were occupied by Phoenicians, particularly
Carthaginians; with the defeat of Carthage, many of these ports naturally passed to Rome,
and ultimately it took control of the entire Maghreb north of the Atlas Mountains, apart
from some of the most mountainous regions like the Moroccan Rif.

The Arabs reached the Maghreb in early Umayyad times, but their control over it was
quite weak, and various Islamic "heresies" such as the Ibadis and the Shia, adopted by
some Berbers, quickly threw off Caliphal control in the name of their interpretations of
Islam. The Arabic language became widespread only later, as a result of the invasion of
the Banu Hilal (unleashed, ironically, by the Berber Fatimids in punishment for their
Zirid clients' defection) in the 1100's. Throughout this period, the Maghreb fluctuated
between occasional unity (as under the Almohads, and briefly under the Hafsids) and
more commonly division into three states roughly corresponding to modern Morocco,
western Algeria, and eastern Algeria and Tunisia.

After the Middle Ages, the area was loosely under the control of the Ottoman Empire,
except Morocco. After the 19th century, it was colonized by France, Spain and later Italy.
Today over two and a half million Maghrebins live in France, especially from Algeria.

Maghribi traders in Jewish history

In the tenth century, as the social and political environment in Baghdad became
increasingly hostile to Jews, many Jewish traders there left for the Maghrib, Tunisia in
particular. Over the following two (three?) centuries, a distinctive social group of traders

throughout the Mediterranean World became known as the Maghribi, passing on this
identification from father to son. --Christofurio 03:31, 27 April 2006 (UTC)More needed.

Source: Avner Greif, "Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade:
The Maghribi Traders' Coalition," American Economic Review 82: 128 (1994).

               Economic Development in the Developing World

The information in this module expands on the information in the demographic transition
module (―Health and Development‖) to look at current economic policies in Morocco and
economic agreements with other countries and regions. The following article will be part
of the course pack and is reported from an EU perspective. Source:

Economic background

The national development plan for 2000-04 was approved by Parliament and
promulgated in September 2000. It aims to ensure an integrated development strategy and
is made up of four main components: regional development and integration; introducing
young people on to the job market ; getting women involved in the development of
Morocco; and fighting against poverty and exclusion.

A decline in agricultural output, high oil prices and the abolition of textile quotas led to a
considerable slowing down of economic growth in 2005. Despite a primary sector
contraction, growth reached 1% because of construction and tourism (4.2% in 2004).

The central government deficit in 2005 is heavy. Including Fond Hassan II spending, and
excluding 2.6% of GDP privatization revenues, it amounts to 5.5% of GDP. Simplifying
the tax system and widening the tax base are keys for improvements. Morocco’s central
challenge for welfare improvements is increasing its low productivity growth. In 2005
promising reforms have been completed and initiated, including the banking sector. It is
crucial to press on with improving the business environment. In 2006 the Pan-European
Cumulation System for rules of origin will probably be extended to Morocco. Therefore,
Morocco can tap much bigger benefits from the Euro-Mediterranean free trade area, if the
country liberalizes trade with its neighbours.

While trade liberalisation provides an important opportunity for growth, it also raises
challenges in terms of increasing external competitiveness and modernising social and
economic institutions, while at the same time strengthening social cohesion. The key
challenges are in the following areas: institutional and structural economic reforms so as
to improve the environment for the private sector and in particular the tradable goods
sector; actions to reduce poverty and exclusion; reallocating public resources; improving
access to key inputs like land, human resources, and capital. The Commission has
received a mandate by the Council to negotiate further trade liberalisation in services and
investment on 21 November 2005. In the field of the liberalisation of trade in agricultural,
processed agricultural products (with the exception of a selected number of sensitive
products) and fish products the Commission has also received a mandate to negotiate
from the Council on 14 November 2005.Morocco is participating in the Agadir Process in
order to create a free trade area with Egypt, Jordan, and Tunisia, which has been signed
in February 2004. It has not entered into force, whilst awaiting for Morocco to complete
the process of ratification. Morocco has also concluded a Free Trade Agreement with the

United States and a FTA with Turkey, which should both enter into force at the beginning
of 2006.

Dr. Benfield’s teaching modules:

                         Climate and Desert Geomorphology

      The issue here is the different climates of the coastal area, the high Atlas and the
   desert interior.

                                             COAST           ATLAS          INTERIOR

      What is the daily high temperature?
      What is the daily low temperature?
      What is the average daily diurnal variation?
      How, do you think, would this change seasonally?
      Why the difference?

   Desert Geomorphology
      The name here is Ralph Bagnold. See accompanying sheets

      Let’s measure a dune:
              Draw it: Shape?
      Lets look at the camel particularly

These dunes are arc-shaped individual mounds or arc-shaped segments of sand ridges
consisting of loose, well-sorted, very fine to medium sand. The upwind slope, which is
usually less than 15°, is wind packed, and firm; the slip face, or lee slope, is composed of
unstable, loose sand at its customary angle of repose of about 32°. Two arms, also called
horns, extend from the main body of the dune mound or from each segment of a dune
ridge; they point downwind. Sizes of individual simple barchans range from a meter or
so to perhaps a hundred meters from horn to horn.

Compound barchans are large basal mounds with a single proportionately large slip
face and an upwind slope covered with many smaller barchans or barchanoid ridges with
proportionately smaller slip faces, all oriented in the same direction as the main dune.
Such dunes have a "two-story" aspect and commonly grow to sizes of 1 or 2 km from
horn to horn, with heights of 30 m or more. These large compound dunes are often called
"megabarchans." Individual barchans or megabarchans commonly occur in elongate
chains or trains that merge with coalesced dunes in fields or ergs. Barchans and
megabarchans are highly migratory: small barchans typically move several meters to tens
of meters per year, at speeds inversely proportional to their size. Megabarchans move
more slowly and commonly "shed" smaller barchans off their horns, as at Pur-Pur Dune
north of Trujillo in coastal Peru (Simons [1]).

Barchans and megabarchans frequently occur in coalesced form as highly curved
segments in continuous dune ridges more or less perpendicular to the wind direction.
Although this coalescence tends to obliterate the pattern of the arms, the main
characteristics of barchans--arcuate slip faces and more gentle upwind slopes persist.
Because these characteristics have been retained, such dunes are called barchanoid or
megabarchanoid ridges. These wavy, barchanoid forms contrast with the straight or

slightly curved segments of transverse ridges. Like transverse dunes, they typically
occur as repeated, parallel ridges that can extend for hundreds of kilometers.


Of all dune forms, barchans and megabarchans have the best understood, least ambiguous
relations to the directions of the winds that form them. The slip faces on these dunes are
maintained by virtually unidirectional winds, and the arms (horns) of the dunes point
downwind, unlike parabolic dunes, whose arms trail behind and point upwind. The
presence of barchans, with their typically crisp, fresh outlines, indicates that strong, sand-
moving winds blow frequently from one quarter. Where occasional or seasonal winds
blow from an opposite direction, barchans and megabarchans can develop smaller,
secondary slip faces oriented in a reverse direction from the main slip faces.


The grain size of these loose, well-sorted, very fine to medium sands is about 0.06 to 0.5
mm. In fields where barchans or megabarchans are isolated on a bare desert floor
(bedrock or sand sheet), movement is generally easy, both in a down-field and cross-field
direction. Movement becomes much more difficult where dunes are coalesced into a
network pattern and interdunal spaces are enclosed. The best route from one barchanoid
or megabarchanoid ridge to the next is along the horns that commonly extend downwind
from one ridge to the next, thus avoiding the interdunal basins. The surfaces of the
gentler slopes on the upwind sides of these dunes are wind-packed sand and are
trafficable. The surfaces of the steep lee slopes are loose sand that will avalanche easily.
Slip faces higher than a meter or two should be avoided. Descents straight down such
short slip faces are possible, but they should begin very slowly from the dune brink to
avoid the separation of the vehicle from the dune surface, with consequent crash-landing.
This type of descent is not feasible for large or heavy vehicles, because sand avalanches
will result that can cause overturning.

Depending on the size of the dune and wind conditions, the floor inside the cusp, near the
edge of the slip face, can be a good place to camp or effect repairs. If the wind picks up to
above 20 kph some of the fine particles can settle out into the lee area. It also provides
concealment from downwind travelers, because they must look back into the cusp to see
                                   the area. Trenching in these dunes is not generally
                                   practical unless they happen to be wet.

                                  Ralph A. Bagnold (1896-1990) , the son of a British
                                  Army Royal Engineer. followed the family tradition and
                                  became an officer in the British Army Royal Engineers
                                  during World War I. After three years of active duty in
                                  France, he took leave to study engineering at

Cambridge University, graduating with honors and then returned to service.

During the interim war year years he was stationed din Cairo and while on leave began
exploring the desert in personal vehicles, with his colleagues and later LRDG associates
including, WBK Shaw, PA Clayton, and Guy Prendergast.

He later wrote papers on the properties and motions of desert sand. By the outbreak of
World War II, Bagnold was on a medical retirement but he was recalled to active duty as
a Signals Officer as war in Europe erupted in 1939; he was posted to East Africa. A visit
to Cairo while his troopship was undergoing repairs in Port Said following a collision at
sea, resulted in his being reassigned to Egypt.

Concerned about the vast unprotected desert flank west and south of Cairo, Bagnold
proposed to General Sir Archibald Wavell, Commander in Chief of Middle East Land
Forces, the establishment of a small organization equipped with desert-worthy vehicles
that could observe enemy troop movement along the coast road scout rear area troop and
airfield locations in Libya Wavell's response was immediate and positive, and thus was
born the Long Range Desert Group(LRDG) that very effectively put to use the
knowledge and experience that Bagnold and his colleagues had accumulated during their
earlier travels and that utilized the techniques and knowledge that they had developed,
among them the sun compass and a closed cooling system for their vehicles.

The LRDG very effectively tied down significant Italian and German military resources
that otherwise would have been available to use against the British farther north and,
through their "road watches," provided invaluable information of movements of enemy
troops and material east and west along the coast road in Egypt and Libya. Bagnold was
promoted shortly afterwards and the command of the LRDG was turned over to Guy

After the war, Bagnold continued his interest in the movement of sand, expanding his
research to included water-borne sand. In 1978, he was the keynote speaker at a NASA-
sponsored conference on eolian processes on Earth and Mars. He expressed great
pleasure that his fundamental work on movement of particles on Earth by wind could be
applied to other planetary bodies with atmospheres such as Mars.

Late in life, Bagnold remarked: "My main urge, from boyhood on, was curiosity...At first
the curiosity was how my toys were made, and with a push from my father, how I might
mend them for myself...In Egypt, with so many ancient sites strewn about...but difficult
to reach, the call became 'go there and see'. This led to the huge satisfaction of desert [the study of] those processes responsible for the vast, organized, and
moving forms of the desert dune systems." He once remarked that he was not a very keen
soldier and that he would rather be a Fellow of the Royal Society than a Brigadier
General; it was a measure of his remarkable abilities that he became both.

Some of this information is from `Memorial to Ralph Alger Bagnold' 1896-1990 by M. J. Kenn, 1992. The
Geographical Society of America.

Ralph Bagnold founded the Long Range Desert Group, that with the Special Air Service,
played such an important part in the war in Africa during World War Two.

Bagnold was born in 1896 and died in 1990. His father had been in the Royal Engineers
and he had always encouraged his son to seek out information. In 1915, Bagnold himself
maintained a family tradition and joined the army. He spent three years fighting in World
War One. After the war, he went to Cambridge University to study engineering. He
graduated in 1921 and re-joined the army shortly afterwards.

He got a posting to Cairo. This posting allowed him to fulfill an ambition and he became
a pioneer of successful desert exploration during the 1930’s. He retired from the army in
1935 and spent his time combining his love of physics, maths and curiosity to develop an
intimate knowledge of the desert.

He made the first recorded east to west crossing of the Libyan Desert. Bagnold and his
team of like-minded explorers developed a sun compass that was unaffected by metal and
therefore not affected by magnetism. He also developed the practice of reducing tyre
pressure when vehicles drove over loose sand. He also found out that driving at speed
was by far the best way to drive over sand dunes – though the driver had to be wary of
the fact that dunes fell away steeply at the top. Such knowledge was to prove vital once
the desert was in Africa too off.

When war broke out, Bagnold was recalled to active duty despite his retirement. Bagnold
knew that he had the necessary knowledge and expertise to seriously undermine the Axis
forces in North Africa.

As a major in the British Army, he asked General Wavell, Commander-in -Chief Middle
East land Forces, if he could form a small group of men who would act as scouts in the
desert and send intelligence back to the British. Unlike many other senior officers in the
British Army who were sceptical of ―private armies‖, Wavell was prepared to support
Bagnold’s request – but on one condition. Wavell wanted to know what a scouting group
would do if they were attacked by the enemy, what expertise would they have to get
themselves out of a situation where rescue would be impossible? Bagnold claimed that
the group would rely on their driving expertise in a desert environment to keep them out
of trouble – something neither the Germans or Italians possessed.

Wavell gave Bagnold just six weeks in 1940 to put together a scouting unit. This was to
become the Long Range Desert Group. It became the forward ears and eyes of the British
Army stationed in North Africa and it initially drove SAS soldiers to their required drop-
off point before they started their walk to a target. The LRDG would then pick up the
survivors from an agreed rendezvous point. The SAS nicknamed the unit the ―Libyan
Desert Taxi Service‖.

Bagnold’s knowledge of the desert in North Africa was invaluable. He even found the
time to write ―The Physics of Blown Sand‖ in 1941. In July 1941, he was promoted to

full Colonel and worked in Cairo. However, he had proved the value of specialist units
with specialist knowledge within the British Army – despite the sceptics.

         “Never in our peacetime travels had we imagined that war could
         ever reach the enormous empty solitudes of the inner desert,
         walled off by sheer distance, lack of water, and impassable seas of
         sand dunes. Little did we dream that any of the special equipment
         and techniques we evolved for long-distance travel, and for
         navigation, would ever be put to serious use.”


After the war, Bagnold returned to his interest in the movement of sand. He became a
Fellow of the Royal Society and received numerous awards for his contribution to
science including the Founders’ Gold Medal of the Royal Geographical Society

Physics of Blown Sand and Desert Dunes

This book, first published in 1941, is a reprinting of the 1954 edition.

It is the first and only book to deal exclusively with the behavior of blown sand and the
land forms due to it. The author studied the sands of North Africa for many years before
World War II and was recognized as an authority on the subject.

Part I is concerned largely with the author's wind tunnel experiments by which the
mechanism of sand transport was investigated. An account of the observed movement of
the individual grains, followed by a chapter on the ground wind and its dependence on
the type of surface over which it blows, leads up to a comprehensive picture of the
interaction between the wind and the sand it moves.

Part II deals with small-scale phenomena such as ripples and ridges, and with the closely
allied subject of the size-grading of the grains.

In part III the forgoing results are used to explain the growth and movement of dunes in
general, and the characteristics of the two main dune types. A new method of determining
the internal structure of sand accumulating throws a practical light both on their carrying
power for motor transport and on their power of water retention. A final chapter from
first-hand knowledge, has been added on the intriguing subject of "singing sand".

                           Islamic Architecture and Gardens

Monumental architecture

What are the key design elements?
Why are these elements the way they are?

House types

Are there different types of Islamic house or are they fairly uniform?
What is the typical design of an Islamic house?
Draw a floor plan.
Why do you think it is designed in this fashion?

The Garden

What is the typical design of an Islamic garden?
What is grown in the garden?
What is/are the symbolism elements?

                                    The Islamic City

In our walk(s) around the city let’s try and see what the basic elements are and how they
are arranged spatially. Following is what has been called the model Islamic city (It comes
from Dr Sommers stuff and is a good starting point).

Is this accurate in the context of Morocco?
What could/should we add?
What are the functions of the different urban ―neighborhoods?‖
How do they differ from a western city?

                  The Desert Trilogy: Nomadism, the village and the city

In the 1970’s a geographer named Paul English suggested there was a desert trilogy made
up of:
           a. Nomads
           b. The Village and
           c. The city
 He suggested there was a dependency relationship that went something like this:


          Nomad                                              The City




Does this relationship still exist?
Is the saying :more
Who are the nomads of the Moroccan Interior and mountains?

                                  Tourism Landscapes

I, Dr Benfield, teach tourism at CCSU but have never been to Morocco. I do know that
Agidir is one of the more popular resort towns for European tourists. So let’s look at its

Can we tell what nationalities come here?
What is/are the attractions?
Who works here?
Do you think this is a prosperous tourist destination?
What are the economic benefits of tourism?
What is the morphology of the resort?
Do a transect of the main tourist street. What are the land uses?
Where are the accommodations? Are they stratified by type?
I teach a course entitled ―New Directions in Tourism‖. Is there anything here I could use?


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