Tuesday, May 02, 2023

More on the Moroccan "genizas"

ARCHAEOLOGY AND POLITICS: Abraham Accords allow Israelis to excavate two huge ‘genizas’ found in rural Morocco. Normalization lets Israeli researchers formalize ties with Moroccan experts to investigate remnants of Jewish life – with aid of Israelis who once lived in those abandoned villages (MELANIE LIDMAN, Times of Israel).
One of the challenges with archaeological excavations in southern Morocco is that all of the buildings were made from mud, which makes them very difficult to unearth and exceptionally susceptible to destruction from the elements afterward. It requires a painstaking process of slow excavation and immediate conservation by using local artisans and materials to rebuild the buildings in the same manner, explained [BGU archaeologist Professor] Yuval Yekutieli.

“When we got there there was no roof and the columns were tipping over, the walls were falling apart,” recalled Yekutieli. In Akka, just before the Jews fled they dug a hole in the bima, the central prayer platform, and buried letters, magical charms written on parchment paper, and sacred texts including Torah scrolls. In Tamanart, they placed their holy objects in a hole in the wall.

I noted this discovery last year here. The sites date from the seventeenth century to living memory, far outside PaleoJudaica's usual range. But as an archaeological and manuscript treasure trove the excavation deserves some attention.

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