Workshop Format// Formats des Ateliers

Panel/Présentations avec discussion du panel

Title// Titre

Panel 7. Paper 7.2: Documentation of Adobe Synagogues and Mellahs in Small Rural Communities in the Draa Valley and in the Saharan Morocco Region: A Project Presentation

DOI

https://doi.org/10.7275/b75f-tq66

Keywords

Cultural landscapes, Rural heritage, Morocco, Jewish Heritage

Abstract // Résumé

The Jewish presence in the Anti Atlas and in the Saharan region of southern Morocco is documented since the first century CE. The architecture of the Saharan Mellah (Jewish Quarter) is of high significance. Almost all Mellahs in the region are in small rural settlements, villages or fortified Ksour. The prominent building technique is Adobe, using mud brick as the basic material.

Most of the Jews left the region in the late 1940ʼs and the early 1960ʼs. Some buildings were abandoned, other are used by non-Jews. As a result, many original Adobe buildings lack regular maintenance. They gradually deteriorate and many will soon completely disappear.

Considering their historical significance, it is surprising that the mud brick synagogues have never been systematically documented. The same is true about Mellahs. Our project, initiated in 2018, set as its aim to document the endangered Jewish buildings and urban complexes in the Draa Valley and in the Saharan Region of Morocco and to analyze these Adobe monuments from architectonic, urbanistic, historical and cultural point of view. A typology and urban principles of the Saharan Mellahs will be formulated.

During the first phase of the project (2018–19), relevant documentation was collected, several Jews who used to live in the region were interviewed. The World Federation of Moroccan Jewry and other organizations helped to provide contacts, historic photographs and documents.

In January 2019, three members of the team travelled to the region, documented and measured selected buildings and monuments. Further interviews with local residents were carried out. Currently, we are working on 3D electronic visualizations to test the possibilities of collaboration between Jewish Studies scholars and conservation scientists: We work with comparative and historical methods, reconstructing the functions of the original buildings based on understanding of Jewish culture and archival visual sources, while technical scientists with whom we collaborate use methods of digital visualization.

Bibliographic References // Références Bibliographiques

TRADITIONAL BUILDING TECHNIQUES OF THE DRÂA VALLEY (MOROCCO), Baglioni E., Mecca S., Rovero L., Tonietti U. In digitAR - Digital Journal of Archaeology, Architecture and Arts, n° 1, 2013.

MELLAH: THE JEWS QUARTER AT THE MEDINAS OF MOROCCO. A NEW INTERPRETATION OF THE MINORITY'S SPACE IN THE ISLAMIC CITY, Calvo-Serrano J., García-Carrillo F., Manuel Santiago-Zaragoza J. In Procedia Engineering, n° 161, 2016.

BATEI HA-KNESSET, TASHMISHEI KDUSHA U-MITSWA, Amar A. In Kehiloth Israel ba-mizrah, Maroko, Saadon H. (ed.), Yad Ben Zvi, Jerusalem, 2004.

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Panel 7. Paper 7.2: Documentation of Adobe Synagogues and Mellahs in Small Rural Communities in the Draa Valley and in the Saharan Morocco Region: A Project Presentation

The Jewish presence in the Anti Atlas and in the Saharan region of southern Morocco is documented since the first century CE. The architecture of the Saharan Mellah (Jewish Quarter) is of high significance. Almost all Mellahs in the region are in small rural settlements, villages or fortified Ksour. The prominent building technique is Adobe, using mud brick as the basic material.

Most of the Jews left the region in the late 1940ʼs and the early 1960ʼs. Some buildings were abandoned, other are used by non-Jews. As a result, many original Adobe buildings lack regular maintenance. They gradually deteriorate and many will soon completely disappear.

Considering their historical significance, it is surprising that the mud brick synagogues have never been systematically documented. The same is true about Mellahs. Our project, initiated in 2018, set as its aim to document the endangered Jewish buildings and urban complexes in the Draa Valley and in the Saharan Region of Morocco and to analyze these Adobe monuments from architectonic, urbanistic, historical and cultural point of view. A typology and urban principles of the Saharan Mellahs will be formulated.

During the first phase of the project (2018–19), relevant documentation was collected, several Jews who used to live in the region were interviewed. The World Federation of Moroccan Jewry and other organizations helped to provide contacts, historic photographs and documents.

In January 2019, three members of the team travelled to the region, documented and measured selected buildings and monuments. Further interviews with local residents were carried out. Currently, we are working on 3D electronic visualizations to test the possibilities of collaboration between Jewish Studies scholars and conservation scientists: We work with comparative and historical methods, reconstructing the functions of the original buildings based on understanding of Jewish culture and archival visual sources, while technical scientists with whom we collaborate use methods of digital visualization.