At the end of the 19th century, travelers discovered a treasure-trove of old manuscripts in a medieval synagogue in Old Cairo. These papers were never thrown out because they usually mentioned the name of God (a similar custom exists in Islam for Qur’an fragments). Over a millennium these manuscripts accumulated in a special antechamber, or Genizah, to form a unique archive. The collection includes hundreds of letters written by Jewish merchants who lived in the Mediterranean Islamic lands, and traveled as far as India during the Middle Ages. This panel discusses the Genizah, it's unique contribution to history, and the development of Amitav Ghosh’s book In an Antique Land, which is based in part on letters of Jewish India traders from the archive.

Simultaneous Arabic interpretation will be provided.

Image: Judeo-Arabic Letter regarding the sale of lac brought from India to Egypt. With the kind permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library (UK). MS TS 10J14.16

Panelists

Mark Cohen Visiting Professor of Arab Crossroads Studies, NYUAD; Author Under Crescent and Cross: The Jews in the Middle Ages (Princeton University Press, 1994)

Amitav Ghosh Author In an Antique Land (Vintage, 1994) and River of Smoke (Picador, 2012)

Moderated by

Philip Kennedy General Editor, Library of Arabic Literature; Associate Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic StudiesNYUAD

Moderated by
  • Philip Kennedy, General Editor, Library of Arabic Literature and Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, NYUAD

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