– Is it possible there is a lost ancient Slavic fortress hidden somewhere in Africa? If it exists, then who were the ancient Slavic builders and why did they travel so far to build a fortress in another part of the world?
Polish archaeologists and ethnologists think they have answers to these questions and they are now on their way to Morocco searching for traces of the Slavic fortress called Qarjat as-Saqaliba.
It is believed the fortress Qarjat as-Saqaliba was constructed by rebel Slavic slaves at the turn of the 9th and the 10th century.
The fortress should be located somewhere around the Rif Mountains, Morocco. This was region was home to the Kingdom of Nekor was founded by an immigrant of Yemen, Salih I ibn Mansur al-Himyar in 710 AD, by Caliphal grant.
He converted the local Berber tribes to Islam. However, people soon tired of the restrictions of the religion, and deposed him in favor of one az-Zaydi from the Nafza tribe. They subsequently changed their mind and reappointed Ibn Mansur. His dynasty, the Banu Salih, thereafter ruled the region until 1019.
In 859 the Kingdom of Nekor was attacked by a Viking fleet numbered sixty-two ships. The Vikings engaged and defeated a Moorish force in Nekor that had attempted to interfere with their plunderings in the area. After staying for eight days in Morocco, the Vikings went back to Spain and continued up the east coast.
Salih I ibn Mansur al-Himyari founded the Banu Salih dynasty in 710 and ruled until 749. This brings us to the story how Slaves entered the region.
According to Dr. Wojciech Filipowiak, who is chief scientist of the archaeological expedition to Morocco, “The dynasty Banu Salih used a guard made of Slavic slaves. The journey of prisoners often started in the Baltic trade centers such as Wolin and Szczecin. When the guards revolted, they were driven from the capital and built the mountain fortress Qarjat as-Saqaliba, which translate as the village of Slavs.
After several years of service as guards, they rebelled to regain freedom. After a short battle they were driven from the capital and fled to the mountains, where they founded a fortress called Qarjat as-Saqaliba.
Scientists now think that by combining linguistic, archaeological and ethnographic methods, they can find traces of the Slavic fortress. The archaeological expedition started in October, 2016 and the plan is plan to select specific locations where archaeological excavations can take place.
The Book of Roads and Kingdoms, an eleventh-century geography text by Abu Abdullah al–Bakri contains a description of a Slavic fortified settlement in the north of Morocco. The book also mentions the country of Mieszko.
According to the chronicle, the Slavs built a village not far from the capital of the Sultanate. Today it is a small village named Mnoud Nekkour on the river Oued Nekor. Dr. Filipowiak the settlement and lost fortress are not far from each other.
The search in Morocco will be preceded by visits of scientists in archives and libraries in Aix-en-Provence, France. In Seville, Spain, historians and archaeologists will consult with Prof. Ahmed Tahiri, one of the greatest authorities on the Emirate of Nekor.
To success with the mission, archaeologists also rely on help from locals.