Architecture of Medieval North-African Ibadites and the Case of Jerba,
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The discussion on the architecture of North-African Ibadites is usually reduced to the famous Mozabite cities which are heirs to the first Ibadite capitals of Tahart and Sadrata. In the Mzab region, the cities guarded by ramparts and watchtowers are built around a central mosque; naturally enough, to the small mosques which are situated outside the walls less importance is attached than to the great mosque dominating the town. As for the Ibadites of Jerba, they have not constructed any urban centers. Their numerous mosques, often quite modest, are spread all over the island and are venerated with equal importance by the inhabitants. Some buildings belong to the island's defence mechanism network in which small mosques are responsible for scrutinizing the coasts while bigger, fortified mosques are equipped sufficiently to resist sieges. The third case discussed in the study is the Libyan Jebel Nafusa where numerous isolated mosques are to be found; in this mountainous country, however, there are also many fortified granaries meant to protect the population against the possible dangers. Although the Ibadites share the same defensive concern, the three studied regions show different architectural concepts closely related to their topography and to the way of life imposed on the local population by the natural circumstances. The model of a sole mosque around which a fortified city develops is peculiar exclusively to the Mzab region.
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