Above: Ait Semgane, a semi-ruined ksar southwest of Tassawant, Morocco

Southeastern Morocco has an unusually dense concentration of ruins. As we drove through the Dadès and Draa valleys, we spotted countless crumbling rammed-earth buildings dotting the countryside. They ranged from lonely houses surrounded by nothing but rocky desert to complex ksour (fortified towns; “ksar” is the singular) with walls, gates and towers. Most were long since abandoned and slowly melting back into the earth, yielding to rare but damaging rains. I suspect that none but the most famous of these ruins will survive the next 50 years.

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