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Ouarzazate (and region)

(502 words)

Author(s): Aomar Boum
Ouarzazate(Ar./Berb. Warzāzāt) was the region with the last major Jewish settlement on the southern slopes of the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco before one entered the southern interior toward Sous and the Sahara. The origins of the Jewish community are unknown. The first detailed reference to the cluster of communities in Ouarzazate comes from Charles de Foucauld, who visited the region in 1883. He noted that Tikirt was the largest Jewish settlement in the region. In the second decade of the twentieth century, Nahum Slouschz reported that about 240 Jews lived in the valley o…

Abisrur, Mordechai

(660 words)

Author(s): Aomar Boum
Best known as the guide of Charles de Foucault during his exploration of southern Morocco between 1883 and 1884, Mordechai Abisrur was born around 1830 to one of the oldest Jewish families in Akka (Ar. Aqqā), where he learned how to read and write in the primary religious school (Jud.-Ar. ṣ ) of the Jewish Quarter (Ar. mallāḥ). A gifted and talented child, Abisrur earned the admiration of the community's elders, who sent him to study in Marrakesh in the hope that he would become a rabbi and return to the village to teach the young, preach in the loc…

Ntifa (Foum Jemâa, and region)

(856 words)

Author(s): Aomar Boum
Ntifa (Ar. Nṭīfa) refers to a tribal confederation in the High Atlas Mountains whose settlement region extends south of Tadla, bordering Aït ʿAtab, Aït Msad, and Azilal on the east, Beni Mousa on the north, Sraghna on the west, and Tanant on the south. For most of the year, and apart from the cultivated lands near locally scattered springs and Oued El ʿAbid, the neighboring High Atlas plains of Bzou and Foum Jemâa are dry and barren. The geographic and climatic nature of the region explains its appellation of Ntifa (Mor. Ar. nṭaf connotes reaping herbs or plants by hand).  Bzou and  Foum Jemâa w…


(406 words)

Author(s): Aomar Boum
Tamanart is a region in western Bani of the southwestern Sous region of Morocco that includes the oases of Icht, Aguerd, Foum El Hassan, and Kasba Ait Harbil. It was one of the last stations in Bani for trans-Saharans caravans before they entered the desert. The region included two major dry rivers, Oued Tamanart and Oued Icht.  Before the political and economic emergence of Akka, Tamanart was the most important settlement of the lower Anti-Atlas Mountains. The village of Aguerd, one of the main oases of Tamanart, was controlled by the Ait Tamanart (Berb. ait, also ayt or ayt, people of) bef…


(589 words)

Author(s): Aomar Boum
The Daggatoun are a tribe of Saharan nomads, believed to be of Jewish origin, who moved constantly around the desert interior. The first person to mention the Daggatoun was Mordechai Abisrur, a Jew from the southern Moroccan oasis of Akka. In an article he wrote for the Bulletin de l’Alliance Israélite Universelle, he traced their origin to the Jewish community of Tamentit and argued that their ancestors had fled  the Tamentit region after Muḥammad al-Maghīlī incited the local Muslims to expel them from Touat in 1492. Abisrur’s name has historic…

Akka (Aqqā)

(728 words)

Author(s): Aomar Boum
Akka is a valley of palm groves in southwestern Morocco at the mouth of the Oued Akka (Wādī Aqqā), a tributary of the Dra’a River, in which four Mallāḥs (mellahs) were located. There may have been a much earlier Jewish community in the Akka region, but the first known Jewish settlement was established in the eighteenth century by Jews from Ifrane (Oufrane, Ar. Ifrān) who left because of the persecution by Bū Iḥlās in 1792. Akka has many villages; the main Jewish settlements were located in Iraha…


(615 words)

Author(s): Aomar Boum
Located in the High Atlas Mountains between Marrakesh and Ouarzazate, Telouet(Berb. Talwāt) was the political center of the powerful Glāwā (sing. Glāwī; usual Fr. rendering -Glaoui) family. The valley of Telouet was a passage of the caravans from the interior to the northern and western plains of Morocco. The valley is about twelve kilometers long and four kilometers wide. Among the villages in each side of Telouet valley, four had Jewish settlements (mellahs, Ar. mallāḥ ) in the nineteenth century according to Charles de Foucauld, though there may have been a few other small…

Tata and Region

(567 words)

Author(s): Aomar Boum
Tata (Tatta, Ar. Ṭāṭā) , located on the southeastern edge of the Sous region of Morocco, is an oasis of palm groves situated at the mouth of Oued Tata, a tributary of Oued Draa (Wād Darʿa), that originates from Ida Ou Nadif, Tagmout, and Indouzal. It is one of the most important settlements of the southern Darʿa and  Bani regions, and a key passage through the Anti-Atlas Mountains north of Akka. Despite the semi-arid climate and sparse rainfall, Tata remains one of the most populated areas of the Bani region, with about twenty villages comprising more …


(431 words)

Author(s): Aomar Boum
Located in West Africa near the river Niger in the country of Mali, Timbuktu developed as an important trading center of the Empire of Mali in the fourteenth century. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, under the Songhai Empire, the city became one of the most prosperous trans-Saharan entrepôts and attracted many scholars and merchants. In 1591, Timbuktu was conquered by the army of the Moroccan Saʿdi sultan, Aḥmad al-Manṣūr al-Dhahabī (r. 1578–1603). The descendants of the Moroccans maintained an independent state in Timbuktu until the nineteenth century.       In the fiftee…


(669 words)

Author(s): Aomar Boum
Todgha is a river valley on the southern slopes of the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Until the early 1960s, a significant Jewish population lived in three hamlets in this region: Tinghir (the most recently established), Taourirt, and Asfalou. The Jewish communities of Todgha were among the oldest on the southern fringes of the Atlas. The arrival of Jews in the area seems to have been connected to the nearby silver mines of Jebel Saghro. The Todgha mines were known since the end of the eighth and the mid-ninth centuries, and Jews were jewelers and minters of coins in the region.       Little…

Zagora (and region)

(598 words)

Author(s): Aomar Boum
In his description of the Draʿa in southern Morocco in the sixteenth century, Leo Africanus applied the name Tansita to the oases and mountains of the central Draʿa. Tansita comprised about fifty villages inhabited by the Banū Maʿqīl tribe and Oulad Yaḥya (Awlād Yaḥyā). Both settlements are part of the district of Ternata. South of Ternata, the basin of the palm groves of Fezwata extends for more than 30 kilometers (19 miles) to Tizi n Takkate. Fezwata and Ternata (separated by the pass of Imi n Tazagourt) are one of the greenest oases of the Draʿa, housing a number of …

Tagaost (Tagawst) 

(380 words)

Author(s): Aomar Boum
In the fifteenth century, Tagaost (Tagawst) was the most important commercial entrepôt in southern Morocco. Situated in the southwestern part of the Sous region in the Oued Noun Valley about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) west of modern Goulimine, it included three settlements: Agaos, Tisegnane, and Aït Moussi. According to Leo Africanus, these villages, referred to as El Qsabi (walled villages), comprised the largest walled settlement in southwestern Morocco at the end of the fourteenth century. The population numbered eight thousand households, w…