A History Of The Berbers

The Berbers are the indigenous people of North Africa, with a history spanning over 4000 years. The name Berber comes from the Romans who labelled the north African tribes ‘barbari’ meaning barbarian in English. The Berbers were spread across communities in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. The Berbers were a diverse population, developing several kingdoms and dynasties with their own languages and traditions between the 2nd and 7th century. The successful conquest of Arab invaders in the 7th century brought together the disparate strands of Berber culture, creating a rich emulsion of north African heritage and Arabic Islamic influence.

Berber History Culture Ancient Old times

The Berbers are notable in the history of North Africa, for their contribution to trans Saharan trade development in the middle ages. Berber merchants and nomads established trading routes between the West African and the Sub-Saharan region. They transported goods from beyond the Sahara desert to the Northern Moroccan cities.

Given the flow of Arab and European migration, from the 16th to 20th century in North Africa, Berber culture and heritage was increasingly diluted and marginalised within North Africa.

Today, the descendants of the Berbers are largely concentrated in the mountains and valleys of Morocco, where most survive from agricultural and pastoral pursuits including weaving, pottery, metalwork, leatherwork and local trade.

Berber Women Atlas Mountains Carpet weaving

Berber history and culture is recognized in Morocco through the Royal Institute Of Amazigh Culture (Amazigh is the native name for ‘Berber’).  In 2011, it was also announced that Tamazight (Berber language) would be recognised as an official language of Morocco.

Maison D’argan works with Berber women co-operatives on the west coast of Morocco. We create jobs and supply fair wages for the Berber women workers. These Berber women are empowered by our partnership to provide for their families. We are currently in the process of setting up a social responsibility initiative to support local schooling within the area.