Name: Ait Ben Mouh Igherm – Communal Fortified Granary
Village: Amezray n’Oozdir, Zawiya Ahansal
Type of Building: Communal Fortified Granary
Construction Date: 17th century
Last Restoration Date(s): 2013 to 2015
Restoration Work: Complete exterior and interior renovation and the reconstruction of the historic guardhouse into a community center.
There are three big native families in the village of Amezray: Ait Ben Hmad, Ait Ben Mouh and
Ait Said. The Ait Ben Mouh Igherm belongs to the extended family of Mouh. Currently, there are more than 206 small families that are descended from the three original families.
The building was built in the 17th century as a communal fortified granary (igherm in Berber) for people’s food and possessions (grains, vegetables, butter, animal fat, oats and luxurious tableware and jewelries). The walls are made of stones and mud. The roof is composed of wood, mud, and dry earth. It consists 24 storerooms on four floors.
Most of the people used to and still do spend the majority of their time working in fields, shepherding their animals on mountains and living in caves during summer time. Therefore, they delegate a guard or watchman who is the responsible of the igherm and the property inside. In the past it was especially important that this guard was a physically powerful individual and able to guard their property from enemies.
Historically, the igherm was used as a fortress to fight tribal enemies during the time of siba (the time before French colonization when there were conflicts between tribes and there wasn’t a central government). It was also utilized in the 1930s to fight against the French occupation army.
After Morocco gained independence from the French, the village dwellers built houses near the igherm and still today igherm is only used to save grains and grass, alfalfa and hay from the summer crops for use during the winter.
The Atlas Cultural Foundation, Les Amis de Amezray and Association Amezray SMNID restored the igherm in 2013 and 2014.
The watchman’s house adjacent to the igherm was restored by SMNID and ACF in 2015 and is now a small house for the watchman, and a community center used for meetings, elections and the elementary school tutoring program.
Restoration Partners and Support Type/Amount
Atlas Cultural Foundation
Financial, $10,000USD from private foundation.
Technical/Architectural, professional oversight of restoration.
Association Amezray SMNID (Moroccan Association)
Technical, Site Management, Property Owners and Moroccan Authority Coordination
Les Amis de Amezray (French Association)
Financial (2000 Euro)
Erickson Creative Group (US LLC, for profit organization)
Total Restoration Budget: $22,000 USD
(All amounts are approximate.)
Past and Current Projects