General framework :
Cooperation between the Central Region in France and the Fès-Meknès Region in Morocco is an opportunity to transfer and share knowledge in the field of heritage conservation. In this context, a project called “VOLUBILIS” financed by the Central Region in France was set up by Moroccan and French partners to develop a set of tools to preserve and enhance the ancient site of Volubilis. These partners are: The Multidisciplinary Laboratory of Research at the University of Orléans in France, The National School of Arts and Crafts in Meknes, The Faculty of Sciences of the Moulay Ismail University in Meknes, La Mission Val-De-Loire in France and the Conservation of the archaeological site of Volubilis. The Volubilis project aims to propose durable conservation solutions for the site, and also to promote public accountability in this conservation.
Some international missions have already worked with local teams through localized restoration or recovery operations. This project will therefore be based on the results of this work and will experiment with new solutions to increase the attractiveness of the site while guaranteeing its permanent exploitation. Thus, in addition to a historical, scientific and technical inventory, the materials and their environment will be studied in order to understand the origin of the degradations and propose durable remediation solutions. Heritage tourism is one of the main vectors of socio-economic development. It is a more diversified and sustainable local, national and international tourism which is targeted via actions allowing the appropriation of the site and its conservation, thanks to the documentary syntheses and scientific popularization, to more user-friendly and to quality services in a safe and attractive environment.
Objectives and purposes:
The preservation of Volubilis is a cultural and societal imperative, and its restoration is a scientific and technical challenge that requires a multidisciplinary and innovative research. Cooperation between the partners involved on both sides of the Mediterranean aims to propose durable solutions for the conservation and enhancement of the site. The scientific approach will enable actions to be taken to protect, restore and enhance tourism, in order to increase the socio-economic and touristic benefits of the Volubilis site and the Fez-Meknes region. Thus, the scientific and technical objective is to suggest intervention solutions that guarantee the sustainability of structures and comply with the requirements of the ICOMOS charter, in particular regarding the choice of compatible restoration materials (mortar and stone). This action will be guided by a multicriteria analysis supported by laboratory and/or simulation tests. The objective of enhancing the heritage and tourism development of the Volubilis site is to disseminate popular, historical, scientific and technical information to the general public (all ages, local and international) via diversified means of communication in order to show the value of the cultural significance of the site. The project will propose a travel plan inside the site, guide visitors through optimized signs and routes to ensure good access to buildings as well as the safety of the site and its visitors. Finally, in order to enhance the research activities undertaken within the framework of this project and the appropriation of the site by the population, a research program journal (billboards, printed flyers, virtual newsletters) will be communicated widely to visitors and the local population.
The main objectives of the project are:
(1) a database of historical, archaeological, geological, and materials data, as well as 3D maps and models of the Volubilis site.
(2) A prototype tested of valuation of the house of Venus demonstrating the potentiality of field of experimentation with a view of a valorization of the site.
(3) An augmented virtual tour of the house of Venus.
(4) An exhibition for the valorisation of the site, the studies carried out in it and the tangible results obtained thanks to this project in addition to the support of the Center region.
(5) Pedagogical activities in the cultural space: posters, videos, models of the site, a game of trail and advertising posters within tourism agencies and hotels.
Project activities: The project has two main components:
Part 1: Scientific and technical research, transfer and exchange of knowledge among project partners. Synthesis and valorisation of the data obtained from the studies already carried out: archaeological, historical, geological and from materials, and the collection of historical data missing.
Cartography of the site and virtual modeling (GIS, 3D scan …) of the site of Volubilis.
Virtual reassembly, simulation of different interpretations of the functional status of the main constructions.
Site inventory: Petrographic identification and mapping of stones and alterations.
Physico-chemical and thermo-hydro-mechanical characterization of stones, mortars used or available and dating of ancient mortars.
Formulation of mortars compatible with local stones for the restoration of the site.
Study of the behavior of formulated mortars and of the replacement stone under accelerated aging in the laboratory to evaluate the durability of the proposed solutions.
Creation of pilots to test the restoration of the site and the actual reassembly of the constructions in the house of Venus.
2nd part: Tourism promotion of heritage.
Study of the public in order to define the profiles of the visitors, their behaviors on the site, their levels of satisfactions and especially their expectations.
Use of new technologies (website, smartphone app, etc.) to diversify and enrich the offers of visits. A website will gather all the data from the project and previous studies, and will offer access to the virtual tour of Volubilis.
Reinforcement of the coherence between the site, the cultural space and the shop of the site, in order to enhance the sale of local products in connection with local producers and crafts.
Map of the site: visiting itineraries, signage, installation of flash codes for an increased visit allowing contextual access to the site and audio-guidance via tablets or smartphones.
Take advantage of the host house to better adapt to the expectations and enrichment of the information available in the cultural space and setting up of educational activities: posters, videos, models of the site.
Creation of information, promotion of this information, internal diffusion on the site, external distribution to the site and distribution of advertising posters to tour operators, tourist offices and hotels in the Region.