Ashtor (Strauss), Eliyahu

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ASHTOR (Strauss), ELIYAHU

ASHTOR (Strauss ), ELIYAHU (1914–1984), Israel historian. Born and educated in Vienna, Ashtor went to Palestine in 1938. From 1939 until 1957 he served as librarian of the Oriental department of the Jewish National and University Library, Jerusalem. He taught from 1952 at the Hebrew University (later professor of Islamic civilization). In his programmatic Prolegomena to the Medieval History of Oriental Jews (jqr, 50 (1959)), he pointed out that it was the task of the historian to understand the Oriental Jewish communities as an integral element of Muslim society and at the same time to note their affinities with Jews from other countries and periods. Ashtor's Toledot ha-Yehudim be-Miẓrayim ve-Suryah Taḥat Shilton ha-Mamlukim ("History of the Jews in Egypt and Syria under the Rule of the Mamluks," 2 vols., 1944, 1951) reveals his familiarity with the relevant Muslim literature, much of which is still in manuscript, his apt use of the accounts of the European travelers, and of Jewish sources. He also wrote Korot ha-Yehudim bi-Sefarad ha-Muslemit ("History of the Jews in Muslim Spain," 2 vols., 1960, 1966). Ashtor made important contributions to Islamic social history and economic history in the Near East during the Middle Ages.

[Shelomo Dov Goitein]