Photographer's Note

City of Ghardaia with its market and its characteristic mosque on top of the city. This picture was taken in April 1970.
The M’zab Valley is an oasis in the Sahara desert. Located about 500 kilometers south of Algiers in the Ghardaia province of Algeria, the 10-kilometer-long valley contains approximately 3,000 wells that supply 270,000 green date palms with water.

The M’zab Valley has been inhabited since 1012, when M’zabite Berbers, a fiercely independent group of Ibadiyy Muslims, moved to the region in an attempt to escape robbers and persecutors. The M’zabites settled in the valley because it could be easily defended.

Over the next 36 years, they built five walled villages (ksars) on rocky outcrops along the valley: Beni Isguen, Melika, Bou Noura, El Ateuf, and Ghardaia, the principal city today. The architecture of these towns is characterized by simple structures, curving walls and a lack of ornamentation.

The M’zabites were, and still are, a puritan sect. They dressed in simple garments, limited their use of color, and lived with little furniture. They designed their buildings for egalitarian communal living, with respect for family privacy.

to know more read the complete Article by Toni Dabbs

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Additional Photos by Henry Troisfontaines (henrytf) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 98 W: 42 N: 165] (985)
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