½ day visit to Erfoud
Morocco’s hidden fossil treasures in desert town
Erfoud is located behind the Atlas mountains at the edge of the Sahara desert. From Merzouga, it is less than 1h00 drive Northwest direction (53 km).
During the Palaeozoic era – about 540 million to 250 million years ago – the southeast of Morocco lay under the sea. Local collector says the area is today home to “close to 500 varieties of fossils spread over 100 square kilometres” including trilobites, which are between 410 and 500 million years old.
At your arrival, the manager as guide gives an informative tour in good English of his huge collection , highlighting the wide variety of fossils and the many forms they have manufactured them from artistic display objects to major pieces of furniture.
In the town’s museum, in the exhibition space, a fine cloud of dust hangs above craftsmen who are working to cut, carve and polish the fossils pulled from the ground.
After transporting blocks of stone from a quarry on the outskirts of town, workers cut them into pieces, then the artisans sculpt them into diverse objects such as fountains, bathtubs and even tables.
In a region traditionally renowned for its dates – the fossil trade is a rare year-round source of sustainable income for the people of Erfoud.