Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Abandoned Jewish town in Morocco rediscovered

SALVAGE ARCHAEOLOGY: Synagogue Ruins Tell Secrets of Jewish Community in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains. A team of Israeli, Moroccan and French researchers on a rescue excavation at a ruined synagogue in Morocco found amulets, the last remnants of a bygone community. The project will soon be expanded to the entire region, under royal sponsorship (Ofer Aderet, Haaretz).
Remainders of a Jewish-Moroccan community that existed for centuries were recently found in a remote town in the Atlas Mountains, on the edge of the Sahara Desert. The small Jewish community of Tamanart lived there from the 16th century to the early 19th century. Recently, researchers from Israel, Morocco and France conducted salvage excavations in its ruined synagogue.

Along with the building’s walls, they found Scriptures and pages from the synagogue’s genizah, a repository for damaged written matter and ritual objects, as well as a few paper amulets. One was meant to protect a woman in labor and her newborn, another a personal charm meant to protect its owner from trouble and disease. “The texts in these amulets are based on formulas found in the Book of Raziel, an ancient Kabbalist book,” says Orit Ouaknine-Yekutieli, a researcher of modern Morocco who teaches at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. The book, which includes texts for charms, was in use by Jewish communities in Morocco.


This discovery falls far outside PaleoJudaica's usual range, but it is too interesting not to note.

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