Zawiya Ahansal: Environmental Geolographic Causality on Human Historical Development in the High Atlas of Morocco

By Sarah Gilkerson and Jared Heuck.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies

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Although there are many factors that shape how isolated cultures develop, the former glaciation and tectonic activity of the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco have shaped the way that the politics and culture of the Zawiya Ahansal region are today, due to their effects on water distribution, mining deposits, and geographical isolation. This research distinguishes the correlation between physical geography and historical development in the High Atlas, with a focus on Zawiya Ahansal. The methods of this study were split into three sections: geological field observations, a historical comparative analysis, and an interview-based sample of the population. The High Atlas formed through deposition within intracontinental rift basins during the Mesozoic era and subsequent uplift during the Europe-Africa collision in the Cenozoic (Alpine orogeny) era. They contain North Africa's highest peaks and separate the plains in the west from the desert in the east and south. Recent ice ages have left behind glacial features such as cirques, carved valleys, and moraines. Even though up to hundreds of millions of years separate geologic processes from human development, this study concludes that they are inseparable. We offer specific instances and utilize primary sources to demonstrate how the geology of the High Atlas has directly affected the native Berber populations and, indeed, all of Morocco's human history.

Keywords: Interdisciplinary, Environmental Science, History

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies, Volume 10, Issue 1, March 2015, pp.15-33. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 776.677KB).

Sarah Gilkerson

Undergraduate Student, Departments of History and Philosophy, French, and Political Science, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana, USA

Jared Heuck

Graduate Student, Departments of Geology and Paleontology, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana, USA