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Grant number: RZ-51724-14

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Princeton University (Princeton, NJ 08540-5228)
Marina A. Rustow (Project Director: January 2014 to present)

The Cairo Geniza as a Source for the History of Institutions and Documentary Practices in the Medieval Middle East

Analysis and translation into English of one to two hundred medieval Jewish and Islamic legal and administrative documents from the Cairo Geniza, in preparation for open-access digital publication; also preparation for print publication of a multi-author handbook on these documents and the institutions that created them. (36 months)

This collaboration proposes to remedy our lack of knowledge of Middle Eastern institutions by comparing original Jewish and Islamic legal and administrative documents from Egypt and Syria, ca. 950 to 1250 CE, from the repository of worn texts known as the Cairo Geniza. The project aims to render these documents legible as historical sources by reconstructing the habits of the scribes who wrote them and the procedures of the institutions they served, especially courts of law and government offices. By first establishing a rigorous set of diplomatic typologies, we hope to explain points of convergence and divergence between Jewish and Islamic scribal and institutional practices, and, in turn, to shed light on the history of premodern Middle Eastern institutions. Our results will appear in a multi-authored print handbook and an existing open-access website, the Princeton Geniza Project. This will be the first website to make such documents available to the public in English translation.

Project fields:
Jewish Studies; Medieval History; Near and Middle Eastern History

Collaborative Research

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$300,000 (approved)
$300,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2014 – 9/30/2017