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Scemmama, Nessim

(674 words)

Author(s): Richard Parks
Nessim Scemmama (Nissim Samama, Shamama) was born in 1805 into a very humble family in the ḥāra (Jewish quarter) of Tunis. Ambitious by nature, Scemmama opened a fabric shop in the ḥāra, the proceeds from which supported him and his extended family, including his three wives (see Polygyny). Scemmama’s life took a dramatic turn when one of his clients, the general Maḥmūd ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿAyyād, impressed by his industriousness, invited him to join his retinue. As the general’s servant, Scemmama had access to the court of the bey, where he impressed everyone he met with his ha…


(2,408 words)

Author(s): Richard Parks
Tunis (Ar. Tūnis), a busy commercial hub and the capital of Tunisia, is located on the northeastern Tunisian coast overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. It is separated from access to the Mediterranean by Lake Tunis (Ar. al-Baḥra; Fr. Lac de Tunis) and therefore is served by the suburban port city of La Goulette (Ar. Ḥālq al-Wādī.). Known in Antiquity as Tunes (from Berb. encampment), Tunis was probably founded in the fourth century B.C.E. as a slightly elevated lookout post for the nearby city of Carthage, but it remained rather insignificant in the shadow of Carthage. The presence of Jews…