Introduction

The natural surroundings of the Zerhoun area have always offered humans favorable potentialities to settlement and cultivation of the soil: a fertile land, abundant water (presence of many water sources), a varied topography (mountains, plateaus, hills, and valleys), and a mild climate.

The region is known for outdoor caves where the extraction of construction materials was easy. Tuff, yellow limestone, and gray limestone were about three to four kilometers away from the site. These rocks were the basic building materials for all the monumental constructions of the city.

The rich soil of this region enabled cereal cultivation which occupied a major part of the landscape of Volubilis and the eastern foothills of Zerhoun. Cereal cultivation was extensively practiced across the surrounding hills which consisted of Miocene marls which were heavily concentrated in the Volubilis plateau where the soil was rich due to abundant precipitation.

These natural conditions have promoted tree agriculture evidenced first by a dense olive grove which covers the southern, eastern, and western foothills, as well as the foothills of Jbel Outita.

The valleys of Zerhoun, where the soil is fertile and the water is abundant, are places favorable to cereal and vegetable, and fruit crops.

The forest area covers mainly the peaks of the foothills of Zerhoun. Unfortunately, there is no documentation of the tree species that composed it throughout history.

These are the different resources that allow us to understand the reasons for the continued occupation of the site of Volubilis. Furthermore, through the remains of mills and bakeries the relationship that linked the city to its hinterland is better understood.