We, with our partners at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries, the Princeton Geniza Project, the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary, and the Genizah Research Unit at Cambridge University Library, are delighted to announce the launch of Scribes of the Cairo Geniza (formerly known as Surviving Scripts), a project to sort and expand our shared understanding of the Cairo Geniza and its fragments.
A geniza is a storeroom or repository for old, used, and/or damaged books, Torah scrolls, and other texts regarded as sacred in the Jewish tradition. Specifically, the Cairo Geniza, which dates mostly from the 10th-13th centuries CE, is widely recognized as the most important documentary source for reconstructing the social, economic, political and religious lives of Jews and other inhabitants of the premodern Mediterranean basin. The documents within the Cairo Geniza have the potential to rewrite the history of the premodern Middle East, Mediterranean and Indian Ocean trade, and the Jewish diaspora. However, most of the information remains locked in undeciphered manuscripts: less than one-third of the 350,000 items have been catalogued in the 120 years that the cache has been known to exist, and far fewer published. Virtually all scholars who have studied these texts have come away with a transformed sense of the history of the region and the long ties of intimacy among its people, and we hope you do too!
See how many fragments you can sort right now at www.zooniverse.org/projects/judaicadh/scribes-of-the-cairo-geniza