TUAT, with the Gurara, an oasis complex stretching over 360 mi. (600 km.) in the Algerian Sahara. Tuat's center was Tamentit, "the Jewish town." Traditions reported by Arab historians fix the arrival of the first Jews as early as 5 C.E., and in large numbers in the "year of the elephant" (570), which coincided with the foundation of settlements in the oasis. Hebrew inscriptions, dating from 1329, were discovered there. The artesian wells there are attributed to the Jews who planted palm groves and built fortified villages. A responsum of R. *Isaac b. Sheshet (end of 14th century) was sent to Tuat via Honain, the important port of the Beni Zayan. The Jews were largely landowners, farmers, and warriors and lived in peace until 1437 when they were besieged for four months. They were rescued by friendly Muslims. The nomads envied their wealth. The Jewish traders from Tuat controlled the gold traffic. The preacher al-Maghili who had been expelled from Fez (end of the 15th century) incited the people to revolt against the Jews, and a new synagogue was destroyed. The high qadi ("judge") of Tuat came out in defense of the Jews. When al-Maghili ordered war against the Jews, the tribes united and there was a general massacre in 1492. The tombs of the victims are still a place of pilgrimage for the inhabitants of Tuat-Gurara. The family name Tuati (Touati, Toaty) derives from Tuat.
Archives Marocaines, 12 (1908), 244–65; G. Vajda, in: Etudes… Levi-Provençal, 2 (1962), 805–13; Corcos, in: JQR, 54 (1963/64), 275–7; 55 (1964/65), 73; Hirschberg, Afrikah, 1 (1965), 282, 296f.; 2 (1965), 18–19.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.