In the foothills of the Atlas mountains sits the Ait-Ben-Haddou kasbah, the most famous ksar in the Ounila Valley. The ancient pre-Saharan habitat is an example of well-preserved earthen architecture of southern Morocco. A combination of mud dwellings are arranged around a central courtyard inside the defensive walls. Some of the houses are humble, but others resemble urban palaces built for affluent merchants with their high angle towers and upper sections decorated with motifs in clay brick. There are also big public buildings and community areas. It is an extraordinary ensemble of buildings offering a comprehensive insight of pre-Saharan earthen construction techniques. The oldest constructions do not appear to be earlier than the 17th century, although their structure and technique were propagated from a very early period in the valleys of southern Morocco. This extraordinary clay village is docked on an influential commercial route linking parts of North and East Africa to Marrakesh through the Dra Valley, and the Tizi-n'Telouet Pass. Architecturally, the site has been developed to welcome trade caravans on their way to north Morocco. Hence, the route is lined with many trade posts and rest stations.