Ancient Papers Shed Light on Jewish Life
In a cave in northern Afghanistan ancient papers recently were found. The papers date back to the 10th century and are part of a collection of discarded religious Jewish writings.
The collection was discovered two years ago by chance. The collection is part of the so-called Geniza. This is a Hebrew term for ritual Jewish disposal of documents with religious significance which cannot be thrown out but must be buried. The Geniza contains hundreds of papers held by collectors and dealers around the world. The National Library of Israel has acquired 29 items from the collection which contains the first-ever documentation of the religious, cultural and commercial life of the Jewish community.
The found documents are the first documentation of the religious, cultural and commercial life of the Jewish community in the trade route between China and the West. Moreover the material contains yet unseen commentary by 10th century commentator Saaidi Gaon on the book of Isaiah. The documents are partly in Arabic and partly in Hebrew script in the Judaeo-Persian dialect, which was prevalent at the time.