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TAFILALT, or TAFILET (i.e. " The Country of the Filali," as its inhabitants are called, because descended from the Arabian tribe of Hilal, settled here in the 11th century), the most important oasis of the Moroccan Sahara, ten days' journey south of Fez, across the Atlas. It is celebrated for its large and luscious dates, to the successful cultivation of which, soon after the arrival of an ancestor of the reigning dynasty of Morocco (hence called the Filali Sharifs, i.e. descendants of Mahomet) circ. A.D. 1250, this dynasty owes its rise to power. Since 1648 it has been the custom of Moorish sultans to despatch superfluous sons and daughters to Tafilalt, and as the males are aU sharifs, the fanaticism against Europeans is comprehensible. Instead of living in towns its bellicose inhabitants occupy isolated fortified buildings, and are constantly at war. In Ifli, the central portion, formerly existed the town of Sagilmasa, founded by Miknisa Berbers in 757 B.C. It was on the direct caravan route from the Niger to Tangier, and attained a considerable degree of prosperity. It was destroyed at the end of the 11th century, but its ruins still extend five miles along the river bank.

The first European to visit Tafilalt was Rene Caillie (1828), the next Gerhard Rohlfs (1864). A later visit to the oasis by W. B. Harris is described in his book Tafilet (London, 1895).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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