The medieval Middle East, where the vast majority of medieval Jews lived, is widely presumed to have produced few documentary texts and preserved next to none. But tens of thousands of documents have survived—for the period before 1100, more than survived from Europe. The find spots range from Cairo to China. This illustrated lecture will take account of a flood of new information these caches offer about the Jewish communities of the Middle Ages, their surprisingly broad geographic remit and the impact of mobility and distance on communal life. Marina Rustow is the Khedouri A. Zilkha Professor of Jewish Civilization in the Near East at Princeton University, where she runs the Princeton Geniza Lab and holds a joint appointment in the departments of Near Eastern Studies and History. Her second book, The Lost Archive: Traces of a Caliphate in a Cairo Synagogue, has just been published by Princeton University Press. In 2015, she was named a MacArthur Fellow.Please upgrade to a browser that supports HTML5 audio or install Flash. Download PodcastDuration: 01:17:00podcast-hf-izj.mp3Transcript100:00:00,000 --> 00:00:01,384My name is Ali Behdad and I'mthe Director of the200:00:01,384 --> 00:00:06,100Center for Near Eastern Studies,and on behalf of my colleagues,300:00:06,100 --> 00:00:12,854I would like to welcome you tothis talk, to this second Averroes400:00:12,854 --> 00:00:19,084lecture of this series which wehave been doing for several years now.500:00:19,084 --> 00:00:25,183Before I turn the podium to my colleagueAomar Boum, who will introduce our600:00:25,183 --> 00:00:31,303today's speaker professor Marina Rustow,I would like to take just this opportunity700:00:31,303 --> 00:00:36,463to thank several colleagues, firstand foremost Sarah Stein and the Leve800:00:36,463 --> 00:00:42,314Center for Jewish Studies for theco-sponsorship of these series.900:00:42,314 --> 00:00:47,824As well I would like to thank mycolleagues at CNES, especially Aomar,1000:00:47,824 --> 00:00:54,734I think Susan, Susan Slyomovics, who havereally taken on sort of the intellectual1100:00:54,734 --> 00:01:03,764leadership with Sarah, Sarah Stein, to helpus organize these series. I also should1200:01:03,764 --> 00:01:09,493give a shout out to our stellar staffespecially Christian Rodriguez who is1300:01:09,493 --> 00:01:14,353here tonight to help us out. For those ofyou are not familiar with the Center for1400:01:14,353 --> 00:01:19,704Near Eastern Studies, I think many of youare, CNES is it is a Research Center.1500:01:19,704 --> 00:01:25,214We're over a hundred faculty fromhumanities, social sciences, arts, and law1600:01:25,214 --> 00:01:29,654school collaborate in a variety ofresearch and pedagogical projects. The1700:01:29,654 --> 00:01:34,694center that was founded in 1957 and isone of the oldest centers for1800:01:34,694 --> 00:01:41,163interdisciplinary research onthe broader Middle East. We provide a1900:01:41,163 --> 00:01:46,123forum for exchange of ideas anddissemination of information within and2000:01:46,123 --> 00:01:51,374beyond campus and you know ourcolleagues do really cutting edge2100:01:51,374 --> 00:01:57,674research and offer our faculty and thebroader community fresh perspectives on2200:01:57,674 --> 00:02:04,144the challenges and cultural richnessof the region. We also support2300:02:04,144 --> 00:02:12,153graduate and undergraduate fellowshipsand awards of various sorts.2400:02:12,153 --> 00:02:16,474To students who work on the Middle East asyou know we get support from the2500:02:16,474 --> 00:02:21,724Department of Education and theMellon Foundation recently. Today's talk2600:02:21,724 --> 00:02:26,103is part of the Averroes lecture seriesthat has been underwritten by a generous2700:02:26,103 --> 00:02:32,043donor, an anonymous donor and which focuseson the Jewish communities living in the2800:02:32,043 --> 00:02:38,254Muslim world prior to the 20th century. We have named series Averroes, the2900:02:38,254 --> 00:02:43,383Latin name for Ibn Rushd, as those of youwho are familiar with the history of3000:02:43,383 --> 00:02:49,293medieval Islam in the 12th century and theLucien polymath whose3100:02:49,293 --> 00:02:54,424philosophical work really integratedIslamic traditions with ancient Greek3200:02:54,424 --> 00:03:01,444thought. To point out we've––to point out the history of Córdoba's3300:03:01,444 --> 00:03:07,474Jewish Muslim relations as a model ofcoexistence and the connections between3400:03:07,474 --> 00:03:13,293Averroes as an intellectual and theJewish philosopher Maimonides, both of3500:03:13,293 --> 00:03:18,183whom were committed to intellectualexchange and communal life across3600:03:18,183 --> 00:03:24,754religious boundaries. I would like tovery briefly introduce our wonderful3700:03:24,754 --> 00:03:31,323colleague Aomar who is a socioculturalanthropologist here at UCLA and now the3800:03:31,323 --> 00:03:35,793also the program director for our MellonGrant on minorities in the Middle East3900:03:35,793 --> 00:03:40,113which we hope to do more of this kind ofa program but also other minorities as4000:03:40,113 --> 00:03:46,534well almost. Aomar's stellar ethnographic workaddresses the place of religious and4100:03:46,534 --> 00:03:51,633ethnic minorities in MENA region. He haspublished widely on this topic. His4200:03:51,633 --> 00:03:56,403publication includes an important bookMemories of Absence: How Muslims4300:03:56,403 --> 00:04:00,363Remember Jews in Morocco, which waspublished by Stanford University Press, a4400:04:00,363 --> 00:04:05,224very important book that I highlyrecommend and recently co-edited with4500:04:05,224 --> 00:04:09,814Sarah Stein, The Holocaust and NorthAfrica which was published by again by4600:04:09,814 --> 00:04:13,264Stanford University Press.So Aomar, please introduce4700:04:13,264 --> 00:04:15,464our speaker and welcome to the podium.4800:04:15,464 --> 00:04:18,424Welcome everyone. It takes a special and4900:04:18,424 --> 00:04:23,404unique scholar to revisit the Cairo Geniza after a generation of5000:04:23,404 --> 00:04:27,754scholars such as great timeMark Cohen, and others have done so5100:04:27,754 --> 00:04:34,144and still see what they couldn't. Ittakes a scholar with special linguistic5200:04:34,144 --> 00:04:40,864gifts, knowledge of materiality and paper,scholarly investigative expertise, an5300:04:40,864 --> 00:04:46,924ability to reconstruct puzzles out ofpaper fragments. Above all, it takes a5400:04:46,924 --> 00:04:51,724scholar with a sense of humility tocollaborate with others to put together5500:04:51,724 --> 00:04:57,934a story out of paper dispersed indifferent archives and institutions. Dr.5600:04:57,934 --> 00:05:03,634Marina Rustow has proven without doubtto be up to the challenge and emerge as5700:05:03,634 --> 00:05:08,524a leading 21st century expert of theGeniza, of the Cairo Geniza.5800:05:08,524 --> 00:05:13,174The historian of Judeo-Arabicdocuments of the Cairo Geniza and the5900:05:13,174 --> 00:05:18,454history of Jews during the Fatimidperiod, Dr. Rustow is the Khedouri A. Zilkha6000:05:18,454 --> 00:05:24,784professor of Jewish civilization in theNear East at Princeton University. In 2014,6100:05:24,784 --> 00:05:31,704she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship,followed by a MacArthur Fellow in 2015.6200:05:31,704 --> 00:05:38,494Professor Marina Rustow received a BAfrom Yale University and two masters and6300:05:38,494 --> 00:05:44,974a PhD from Columbia University under thementorship of Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi. She6400:05:44,974 --> 00:05:51,844taught at Emory University of 2003 to 2010 andJohn Hopkins University from 2010 to6500:05:51,844 --> 00:05:54,9042015, prior to joiningthe faculty at Princeton6600:05:54,904 --> 00:05:59,164University where she is currentlyprofessor in the Department of Near6700:05:59,164 --> 00:06:04,054Eastern Studies and History and Directorof the Princeton Geniza Lab.6800:06:04,054 --> 00:06:08,944Professor Rustow has changed our understandingof the Fatimid Caliphate, a Shia state6900:06:08,944 --> 00:06:12,754which ruled in North Africa between10th and 12th centuries.7000:06:12,754 --> 00:06:16,884As a historian whose research is largelybased on the Geniza,7100:06:16,884 --> 00:06:22,654Dr. Rustow has managed and succeeded toshed new light on eternal Jewish life7200:06:22,654 --> 00:06:28,833and on board a Fatimid Society of themedieval period Dr. Rustow's approach to7300:06:28,833 --> 00:06:34,054this archive goes beyond decodingdocuments–in itself a phenomenal task–7400:06:34,054 --> 00:06:38,223to questioning the relationship betweensubject and medieval states and asking7500:06:38,223 --> 00:06:42,483what that relationship tells us aboutpower and the negotiation of religious7600:06:42,483 --> 00:06:48,453boundaries. In heresy, talking about her firstwork, in heresy a politics of community7700:06:48,453 --> 00:06:53,404the Jews of the Fatimid period, theJews of the Fatimid caliphate, Dr. Rustow7800:06:53,404 --> 00:06:58,863focuses on the period from 909to 1171 c.e. and7900:06:58,863 --> 00:07:03,874upends long accepted ideas about therelationship between two rival Jewish8000:07:03,874 --> 00:07:10,464communities under the Fatimid rule. Analyzing archival documents and material8100:07:10,464 --> 00:07:13,824from the point of view of bothIslamic and Jewish communities8200:07:13,833 --> 00:07:18,504Professor Rustow has built an academiccareer through mining these documents8300:07:18,513 --> 00:07:23,193or what they can tell us about how theCaliphate state grew and how Jewish,8400:07:23,193 --> 00:07:29,393Christian, and Muslim subjects related toit. Her second book, which is going to be8500:07:29,393 --> 00:07:33,934on soloafter the talk, The Last Archive:T races8600:07:33,934 --> 00:07:38,374of a Caliphate in a CairoSynagogue is a new book published by8700:07:38,374 --> 00:07:43,953Princeton University Press in 2020–– in2020 and analyzes the Fatimid history8800:07:43,953 --> 00:07:48,024of documentation through materialfound in the Fustat synagogue8900:07:48,024 --> 00:07:52,584Reminiscent of work about Islamicwriting and manuscripts in sub-saharan9000:07:52,584 --> 00:07:58,264Africa, Rustow challenges that arguingabout Islamic dynasties produce little9100:07:58,293 --> 00:08:05,163documents and manuscripts. With patience,rigor, and excellent analysis, Dr. Rustow9200:08:05,163 --> 00:08:09,934takes her readers from Geniza twelveto communal spaces and outside9300:08:09,934 --> 00:08:14,103geographic borders of Egypt followingthe complex trials by which Arabic9400:08:14,103 --> 00:08:19,233documents made their way from Fatimidpalace officials to Jewish scribes. Just9500:08:19,233 --> 00:08:24,273like what she did in her first book onheresy and the politics of community, Dr.9600:08:24,273 --> 00:08:29,223Rustow invites us again to rethinkFatimid archives through the lens of–9700:08:29,223 --> 00:08:33,994what she calls– the investor-ownedecology of documentation. Deploy her9800:08:33,994 --> 00:08:37,874considering her prowess in languages, socialhistory, and paper9900:08:37,874 --> 00:08:42,854Dr. Rustow is rewriting ourunderstanding of medieval Jewish life10000:08:42,854 --> 00:08:48,764and transforming the historical study ofthe Fatimid Empire. Please join me in10100:08:48,764 --> 00:08:54,824welcoming our winter Averroes lecturespeaker Dr. Marina Rustow.10200:08:55,584 --> 00:08:56,384Aomar, thank you so much10300:08:56,384 --> 00:09:03,374for that really generous introduction.That was really nice of you and thank10400:09:03,374 --> 00:09:08,714you to Ali and to the Center for NearEastern Studies and especially to10500:09:08,714 --> 00:09:13,424Christian Rodriguez for making thisvisit possible and as well as colleagues10600:09:13,424 --> 00:09:16,264and administrators in the Centerfor Medieval and Renaissance Studies10700:09:16,264 --> 00:09:20,624especially Jessica Goldberg and LukeYarborough who organized a conference10800:09:20,624 --> 00:09:24,584that's happening this weekend that wasthe initial impetus for my trip10900:09:24,584 --> 00:09:29,384to LA. I'm going to move a little bitcloser in the hope that proximity will11000:09:29,384 --> 00:09:32,714make up for the lack of a microphone andalso the fact that I'm going to lose my11100:09:32,714 --> 00:09:37,604voice over the course of this lecturebecause I'm getting over a cold, and11200:09:37,604 --> 00:09:42,884thank you all very much for beinghere. I live in New York and I came to LA11300:09:42,884 --> 00:09:47,624via Chicago and with weather like this Iwouldn't be sitting in a room indoors so11400:09:47,624 --> 00:09:54,344I appreciate it.So pre-modern historians all face a11500:09:54,344 --> 00:09:59,924similar problem which is lack ofinformation and the consequences of this11600:09:59,924 --> 00:10:03,404lack of information have slightly...they're slightly different when you look11700:10:03,404 --> 00:10:07,784at it from the perspective of Jewishhistory and the perspective of Middle11800:10:07,784 --> 00:10:14,954Eastern history. So from the Jewish sidefirst, when the Muslims conquered the11900:10:14,954 --> 00:10:17,594region that we now know as the MiddleEast in the seventh and eighth centuries,12000:10:17,594 --> 00:10:27,644most Jews were living in areas that cameunder Muslim rule within the first12100:10:27,644 --> 00:10:34,754decades of conquest. We know actuallyvery little about what happened next. We12200:10:34,754 --> 00:10:40,844do know that Talmudic law– so basicallywhat formed the the basis of Jewish law–12300:10:40,844 --> 00:10:46,874is largely agrarian, meaning if you readthe Babylonian and the Palestinian12400:10:46,874 --> 00:10:49,814Talmud's the the version of Jewish lawthat you're going to see represented12500:10:49,824 --> 00:10:53,984presumes that mostJews are living in rural communities.12600:10:53,984 --> 00:11:00,784Yet we also know that if you flash-forward500 years later, the Judaism that emerged12700:11:00,804 --> 00:11:07,434is 100% urban. So what happened inbetween? A subsidiary question to that12800:11:07,434 --> 00:11:10,734is how did the rabbinic construction ofJudaism win out over all the other12900:11:10,734 --> 00:11:15,924possible constructions? Judaism neverdeveloped a papacy or Church councils or a13000:11:15,924 --> 00:11:20,364Grand Mufti or other centralizedstructures of governance and instead it13100:11:20,364 --> 00:11:26,244relied on a kaleidoscopically shiftingnetwork and nodes of rabbis whose13200:11:26,244 --> 00:11:31,344opinions Jews were actually under noobligation to follow. So given that the13300:11:31,344 --> 00:11:35,094rabbis were relying entirely onpersuasion and had very little coercive13400:11:35,094 --> 00:11:39,774power, how did they convince anyone toactually listen to them? So that's like13500:11:39,774 --> 00:11:45,114just a glimpse of the kinds of questionsthat hover over the first 500 years of13600:11:45,114 --> 00:11:49,794Islamic rule from the Jewish historyside. On the middle east side, the13700:11:49,794 --> 00:11:56,154questions are broader but I think noless perplexing. There's a widespread13800:11:56,154 --> 00:12:02,244perception, to which Aomar justreferred, that the Middle East used13900:12:02,244 --> 00:12:07,554documents less than Europe did in theMiddle Ages, so the kind of most14000:12:07,554 --> 00:12:13,794succinct and strongest statement of this thesis...I'm just going to bring you, you know14100:12:13,794 --> 00:12:16,404there are many places from which Icould bring this but I'm going to bring14200:12:16,404 --> 00:12:19,884it from a book that was published in the90s, an otherwise excellent book on14300:12:19,884 --> 00:12:24,864medieval Damascus by Michael Chamberlainwhere he argues that in the Middle East14400:12:24,864 --> 00:12:30,084rulers maintained patrimonial if notabsolutist claims, considered most of the14500:12:30,084 --> 00:12:33,294wealth of their subjects their own, andpermitted other social bodies none of14600:12:33,294 --> 00:12:37,344the formal autonomies they had in Europe.Individuals, households, religious bodies,14700:12:37,344 --> 00:12:41,574and groups did not brandish documents asproofs of hereditary status, privilege, or14800:12:41,574 --> 00:12:45,384property to the extent that they did inthe Latin West, nor were there strategies14900:12:45,384 --> 00:12:48,234of social reproduction recorded,sanctified, or fought out through15000:12:48,234 --> 00:12:52,374documents to the extent they were inEurope. So you can see that the15100:12:52,374 --> 00:12:56,634comparison between the medieval MiddleEast and medieval Europe is right there15200:12:56,634 --> 00:13:00,504in the minds even of specialists inmedieval Middle East history, the idea is15300:13:00,504 --> 00:13:04,964that the grass is much greener on theirside of the Mediterranean and they have15400:13:04,964 --> 00:13:12,134better archives to work with. In factthis is a total myth actually on both15500:13:12,134 --> 00:13:16,274sides. If you look at the period before1200, in fact the Middle East has15600:13:16,274 --> 00:13:21,824preserved far more originaldocuments than medieval Europe has15700:13:21,824 --> 00:13:25,864largely because the medieval Europeandocuments were at a certain point15800:13:25,864 --> 00:13:30,343jettisoned, especially over the course ofthe course of the 9th and 10th century15900:13:30,343 --> 00:13:34,033and copied into what are known as cartularies, which are kind of summaries and16000:13:34,033 --> 00:13:38,024registers of documents. So we have lotsof kind of documentary content, but we16100:13:38,024 --> 00:13:41,533don't actually have a lot of originaldocuments from Europe before 1200,16200:13:41,533 --> 00:13:47,384whereas we have, you know nobody'sactually counted, but certainly hundreds16300:13:47,384 --> 00:13:51,584of thousands of documents from theMiddle East. So this myth has had16400:13:51,584 --> 00:13:56,024consequences for the field... Some of thethe other assumptions that you see16500:13:56,024 --> 00:13:59,473embedded in the Chamberlain quotation isthe idea that together with documents16600:13:59,473 --> 00:14:04,754goes a certain presumption about rightsand privileges. So you can't defend––16700:14:04,754 --> 00:14:08,054defend rights and privileges unless youhave access to documentation and16800:14:08,054 --> 00:14:11,774document production. And so whatChamberlain is saying here is there were16900:14:11,774 --> 00:14:14,894no documents and effectively what youhad was rulers making arbitrary17000:14:14,894 --> 00:14:20,084decisions. So all of this has hadunfortunate consequences for the field17100:14:20,084 --> 00:14:23,594of medieval Middle Eastern historybecause people tend not to look for the17200:14:23,594 --> 00:14:27,944documents that exist. Documents areimportant to historians especially17300:14:27,944 --> 00:14:31,454because they give us access toinformation that was not intended for17400:14:31,454 --> 00:14:35,914long posterity, but even more than longposterity, one of the many things that17500:14:35,914 --> 00:14:41,764interests me about documents is howthey're used in kind of the immediate––17600:14:41,764 --> 00:14:50,194the immediate play of social power. Infact, we have vast caches of documents,17700:14:50,194 --> 00:14:55,844many of them from Egypt, but it's notjust Egypt. The proximity–– in general the17800:14:55,844 --> 00:15:01,033proximity of the desert and the zone isconducive to the preservation of human17900:15:01,033 --> 00:15:08,354artifacts, so the clearest example ofthis actually is a cache of mostly18000:15:08,354 --> 00:15:12,523ancient papyri from a town that in theRoman period in Egypt was called18100:15:12,523 --> 00:15:17,164Oxyrhynchus, now known as El-Bahnasa,where as the town contracted over the18200:15:17,164 --> 00:15:23,104course of the late Roman period, thehouses kind of hewed to the banks of the18300:15:23,104 --> 00:15:29,614Nile, leaving a gigantic trash heap outin the desert where five hundred18400:15:29,614 --> 00:15:33,334thousand documents were preserved, mostof them in Greek although there are some18500:15:33,334 --> 00:15:37,714Arabic documents from Oxyrhynchus aswell which have not been published. So if18600:15:37,714 --> 00:15:41,494you tally up all of the papyrus paperand parchment documents from the Middle18700:15:41,494 --> 00:15:45,364East before 1200, there are far more thanthere are from medieval Europe, let alone18800:15:45,364 --> 00:15:51,934from Byzantium. So in what follows, I'mgoing to try to give you a kind of Janus-18900:15:51,934 --> 00:15:58,954faced view of what all of thisdocumentation has a potential to do to19000:15:58,954 --> 00:16:03,214our image of both Jews in the Islamicworld and of the Middle East more19100:16:03,214 --> 00:16:09,814broadly. At the time of the Islamicconquests, the two largest Jewish19200:16:09,814 --> 00:16:14,464communities in the world were to befound in Mesopotamia and Syria, with19300:16:14,464 --> 00:16:18,544other important communities in AsiaMinor and Egypt. So the most significant19400:16:18,544 --> 00:16:22,534thing that this map demonstrates for mypurposes, you can see that in the19500:16:22,534 --> 00:16:28,084darker green you have the conquests,Muslim conquests up until 632. In the19600:16:28,084 --> 00:16:33,214middle shade of green, 632 to 661, andthen finally in the lightest shade of19700:16:33,214 --> 00:16:37,114green, the conquest that happened between6061 and 750 so there's a kind of19800:16:37,114 --> 00:16:43,654concentric circle geographicallygoing on here. So the the biggest Jewish19900:16:43,654 --> 00:16:47,194communities were in Mesopotamia andSyria with other communities in Asia20000:16:47,194 --> 00:16:53,344Minor and in Egypt, and what that meansis that most Jews in the world lived in20100:16:53,344 --> 00:16:56,584regions that the invading Muslim armieswould conquer in their very first decade20200:16:56,584 --> 00:16:58,644of campaigning outside the ArabianPeninsula.20300:16:58,644 --> 00:17:05,884So Palestine fell between 636 and 640,Egypt in 640, Iraq in 642, which means20400:17:05,884 --> 00:17:09,484that before the last sasanian Shah waskilled, before the Byzantine Emperor20500:17:09,484 --> 00:17:14,134Heraclius knew that he permanently lostthe eastern Mediterranean, most of the20600:17:14,134 --> 00:17:17,194world's Jews were living under a singlepolity and they would continue to do so20700:17:17,194 --> 00:17:21,664for half a millennium or more. Sobasically they started out here and then20800:17:21,664 --> 00:17:28,454the Jewish populations spread from therebut I'll get to that in a minute.20900:17:28,454 --> 00:17:32,424The notion that the Islamic conquestsproceeded in an Islam or the sword21000:17:32,424 --> 00:17:37,884fashion has been debunked already for along time, although the consequences of21100:17:37,884 --> 00:17:43,284that still have yet to be fully spelledout. In a fascinating example of a book21200:17:43,284 --> 00:17:47,873whose methods have been basicallycompletely–21300:17:47,873 --> 00:17:52,584I mean, questioned to the point of like,you know, being nobody really accepts the21400:17:52,584 --> 00:17:55,554methodology anymore and yet at the sametime everyone accepts the general21500:17:55,554 --> 00:17:59,304conclusions– I'm talking about RichardBulliet's book Conversion to Islam in the21600:17:59,304 --> 00:18:04,103Medieval Period, which was a fascinatingattempt in 1979 to apply the methods of21700:18:04,103 --> 00:18:10,344quantitative history to the medievalIslamic period... and methods aside, what21800:18:10,344 --> 00:18:16,733Bulliet tried to do was to shed light onthe gradualness of conversion to21900:18:16,733 --> 00:18:22,493Islam, and some of the consequences thatthat might actually have and some of22000:18:22,493 --> 00:18:27,233also the causes and how that linked upwith some of the events that we knew22100:18:27,233 --> 00:18:31,733best from Islamic history, like theconsolidation of Empire and then the22200:18:31,733 --> 00:18:35,993fragmentation of Empire.So what Bulliet concludes is that the22300:18:35,993 --> 00:18:39,054proportion of Muslims in the Middle Eastdidn't reach an absolute majority until22400:18:39,054 --> 00:18:43,344the 9th or 10th century, depending on theregion. So that means that Muslims were22500:18:43,344 --> 00:18:48,654ruling over a vast majority ofnon-Muslims for the first 300, 400 years22600:18:48,654 --> 00:18:55,464of their rule. Linguistic Arabization wasalso a gradual process and a separate,22700:18:55,464 --> 00:18:59,603but not completely unrelated one. Andeven the language of empire and its22800:18:59,603 --> 00:19:03,264administrative practices were slow tochange. You can see this in some of the22900:19:03,264 --> 00:19:06,623documents that have survived. So theseare two bilingual Greek Arabic papyri,23000:19:06,623 --> 00:19:13,314one from Egypt and the other from Syria,and the Arabic text is on the top23100:19:13,314 --> 00:19:17,574and the Greek text is on the bottom. Fascinatingly, both of them concerned23200:19:17,574 --> 00:19:22,314taxation and in neither case does theGreek and the Arabic text say precisely23300:19:22,314 --> 00:19:28,613the same thing. So this is kind of anexample of, if you're conquering a big23400:19:28,613 --> 00:19:34,434swath of the planet and you still wantto collect taxes, you should keep the tax23500:19:34,434 --> 00:19:38,243structure in place and have the peoplewho are collecting taxes under the23600:19:38,243 --> 00:19:44,254Romans continue to collect taxes under your role, but at the same23700:19:44,254 --> 00:19:48,544time your view of all of this from theupper echelons of the administration, i.e.,23800:19:48,544 --> 00:19:51,304the people writing in Arabic is going tobe slightly different from the view of23900:19:51,304 --> 00:19:58,894the people on the ground. So nothingnecessarily–– I'm not claiming that24000:19:58,894 --> 00:20:03,184nothing changed at the first conquests.At the same time, it would be, I think, a24100:20:03,184 --> 00:20:07,234stretch to argue that everything changedat the first conquest for Jews or for24200:20:07,234 --> 00:20:10,414anyone else.So despite these papyri and other24300:20:10,414 --> 00:20:13,834smaller but equally mind-blowing cacheof early Islamic documents which are24400:20:13,834 --> 00:20:17,464still in the process of being publishedand interpreted, what follows the Islamic24500:20:17,464 --> 00:20:21,504conquest in Jewish history is a vastblackout of substantive information24600:20:21,504 --> 00:20:27,214nearly everywhere except for Iraq andSyria... and even there all we know are the24700:20:27,214 --> 00:20:30,514works of a thin crust of illiterateelite in and around the rabbinic24800:20:30,514 --> 00:20:35,134academies at Tiberias and Palestine andSora and Pumbaa dita on the lower24900:20:35,134 --> 00:20:46,234Euphrates in Iraq. So basically there's avast silence until about 900. That25000:20:46,234 --> 00:20:50,974silence lifts and when it lifts not onlywere there dense and well-organized25100:20:50,974 --> 00:20:54,394Jewish communities all over the vastexpanse of the Islamic world, but those25200:20:54,394 --> 00:20:59,644communities were already urban andprosperous to an astonishing degree. The25300:20:59,644 --> 00:21:02,974scatter bits of information that we dohave suggest that the Jews adopted25400:21:02,974 --> 00:21:08,104Arabic earlier than Christians likelybecause they were faster to move to25500:21:08,104 --> 00:21:13,234cities. So cities are really the big kindof story here. A conservative estimate25600:21:13,234 --> 00:21:16,534puts 9th century Baghdad at half amillion inhabitants.25700:21:16,534 --> 00:21:20,554For comparison's sake, remember thatafter Imperial Rome, no city in Europe25800:21:20,554 --> 00:21:24,694would reach half a million inhabitantsuntil 17th century Paris and London. So25900:21:24,694 --> 00:21:28,564half a million is very, very impressivefor a pre-modern city. A less26000:21:28,564 --> 00:21:32,554conservative figure estimates Baghdad atcloser to a million inhabitants, which26100:21:32,554 --> 00:21:36,544would make its mean its only medievalrival eighth century Chang'an, which was26200:21:36,544 --> 00:21:43,654about to be destroyed anyway. So evenrabbinic scholasticism was forced in the26300:21:43,654 --> 00:21:49,294end to become urbane, urban, andsophisticated. So the the yeshiva is the26400:21:49,294 --> 00:21:52,384rabbinic academies in Iraq, which hadalways existed in these kind of rural26500:21:52,384 --> 00:21:59,014communities themselves, move to Baghdadby 900. The Geonim who ran these26600:21:59,014 --> 00:22:04,203academies in the 10th and 11th centurywere cosmopolitan, educated broadly in26700:22:04,203 --> 00:22:09,123the sciences and not just in rabbiniclaw, educated in canonical Jewish texts26800:22:09,123 --> 00:22:13,863and methods, but also in Islamicjurisprudence and philosophy. And an26900:22:13,863 --> 00:22:19,774example that I like to bring of this fora couple of reasons is a letter of Hai27000:22:19,774 --> 00:22:23,823Gaon who's like... even if the Ganiza hadnever been discovered in the late 19th27100:22:23,823 --> 00:22:27,453century, this is still somebody we wouldhave known about. This is like a very, you27200:22:27,453 --> 00:22:32,134know, famous, for those who know theinside baseball. It's always funny when27300:22:32,134 --> 00:22:41,884people say like famous, but to whom? Afamous Gaon of the 11th century who27400:22:41,884 --> 00:22:47,733all we had to go on were his legalopinions, his responsa, and they Ganiza27500:22:47,733 --> 00:22:54,934yielded some letters of his. And inthis case–– I like this letter because27600:22:54,934 --> 00:22:59,343I had read it so many times before Irealized what was going on. So if you're27700:22:59,343 --> 00:23:02,703a medieval letter-writer, the first thingyou have to know is that you cannot27800:23:02,703 --> 00:23:08,884mention anyone without putting ablessing after their name. Now if you27900:23:08,884 --> 00:23:12,904really, really hate their guts, you stillput a blessing after their name but it's28000:23:12,904 --> 00:23:16,144a kind of underhanded one or like acurse or something like that, but you have to28100:23:16,144 --> 00:23:22,654say something. So if you look carefullyat the blessings in this letter, he's28200:23:22,654 --> 00:23:27,213writing to thank a benefactor.I have had a teacher at the Jewish28300:23:27,213 --> 00:23:30,424Theological Seminary when I was ingraduate school named Neil Danzig who28400:23:30,424 --> 00:23:34,083used to describe the letters of the Geonimas shnorebriven which is Yiddish for28500:23:34,083 --> 00:23:37,894begging letters, so you expect these kindof glorious, you know, legal28600:23:37,894 --> 00:23:41,823pronouncements and in fact what you getare fundraising letters and this is one,28700:23:41,823 --> 00:23:47,073where he says "please thank on my behalfDavid Ibn Bapshad, probably a Karaite by28800:23:47,073 --> 00:23:50,493the way, may God support him since he hasextended towards me every kindness28900:23:50,493 --> 00:23:54,274benefited me and been loyal to me. Lethim know of the esteem in which I hold29000:23:54,274 --> 00:23:57,503his loyalty." So translation: tell himto send me more money.29100:23:57,503 --> 00:24:02,583But when he puts in the blessing afterhis name, he puts it in an Arabic script.29200:24:02,583 --> 00:24:06,353And it's something that,again I'd read the letter29300:24:06,353 --> 00:24:09,323so many times before I realized this washappening and before I realized how kind29400:24:09,323 --> 00:24:14,323of momentous it was... There are a coupleof different ways to read this. One is29500:24:14,323 --> 00:24:17,843that the Geonim were educatedoutside of the confines of the yeshiva29600:24:17,843 --> 00:24:21,894and if you were writing a good letter inArabic you would simply habitually write29700:24:21,894 --> 00:24:28,313aya de allah, may god preserve him,and that was how it came out. But another29800:24:28,313 --> 00:24:32,573way to read it which was pointed out tome by an undergraduate is maybe this is29900:24:32,573 --> 00:24:35,753actually how people were learning towrite letters inside the yeshiva too, and30000:24:35,753 --> 00:24:41,514we simply don't know the answer buteither way that's what was happening. So30100:24:41,514 --> 00:24:44,363that's just to give you a glimpse ofkind of the curtain lift and this is30200:24:44,363 --> 00:24:49,733what's going on... Yeah sorry, the letter is inin Judeo-Arabic and for those who30300:24:49,733 --> 00:24:56,813haven't had the pleasure, Judeo-Arabic isArabic written in Hebrew characters. So30400:24:56,813 --> 00:25:01,223the kind of geographic mobility thatJews started to enjoy in the centuries30500:25:01,223 --> 00:25:04,644following the Islamic conquests simplycouldn't have been fathomable before. It was30600:25:04,644 --> 00:25:08,993unfathomable in a number of ways.First of all the proportion of Jews,30700:25:08,993 --> 00:25:13,073especially male Jews who now traveled,the number of wages that a Jew was30800:25:13,073 --> 00:25:16,673likely to undertake over a single lifespan– so in other words, if you traveled30900:25:16,673 --> 00:25:20,363once you were probably gonna travel morethan once– the distance is that a single31000:25:20,363 --> 00:25:24,743person could traverse on a regular basisand also the techniques that Jews use to31100:25:24,743 --> 00:25:29,813remain networked even as they traveled,especially letters. So one thing that my31200:25:29,813 --> 00:25:34,884research over the years has convinced meof is that this map of medieval Jews is31300:25:34,884 --> 00:25:41,274as good as far as it goes, but itactually doesn't go far enough. In fact,31400:25:41,274 --> 00:25:48,353if you want to get a kind of–– ifyou take a snapshot of the31500:25:48,353 --> 00:25:51,473geographic region that the documentsactually cover, we're looking at a much31600:25:51,473 --> 00:25:57,833much broader expanse. By the 9th century,Jews had reached China. In the late 11th31700:25:57,833 --> 00:26:01,253and 12th century, traders were makingmoney hand over fist in the Indian Ocean31800:26:01,253 --> 00:26:05,904trade and Jews were among them. In the9th and 13th century, we have evidence31900:26:05,904 --> 00:26:09,384that they were Jews in the EasternIndian Ocean, including sumatra, I'll get32000:26:09,384 --> 00:26:15,144to that in a minute. And we know aboutthis primarily because of the Geniza, but32100:26:15,144 --> 00:26:19,253there are other caches ofdocuments that contribute to our32200:26:19,253 --> 00:26:23,933knowledge that I'll come to towards theend of the lecture. So first, let me just32300:26:23,933 --> 00:26:27,713talk a little bit about the CairoGeniza. It's a rapidly changing field,32400:26:27,713 --> 00:26:31,553which I'm really happy to be able to say,part of this is the advent of digital32500:26:31,553 --> 00:26:36,253technology and part of it is thatthere's now a critical mass of32600:26:36,253 --> 00:26:40,553specialists in the field, so things arereally moving and they have been moving32700:26:40,553 --> 00:26:46,253for 10-15 years. So even this is a field you–– you tend to follow. I32800:26:46,253 --> 00:26:49,603might say some things that you haven'theard before.32900:26:49,603 --> 00:26:55,283So the Cairo Geniza, the the namecomes from a Hebrew phrase bet genizah,33000:26:55,283 --> 00:26:58,493which is a burial chamber ora storage chamber,33100:26:58,493 --> 00:27:03,803generally for worn out texts, althoughthat's covering over a much, much more33200:27:03,803 --> 00:27:10,853complicated history to do with oldIranian languages and Biblical33300:27:10,853 --> 00:27:16,223Hebrew and in fact, again because of thisbig sort of gap in coverage, we don't33400:27:16,223 --> 00:27:22,163exactly understand how this particularpractice developed, but by the time the33500:27:22,163 --> 00:27:28,793the Cairo Geniza starts developing, Jewsare depositing their worn documents33600:27:28,793 --> 00:27:35,813into a special, dedicated chamber intheir synagogues. So the way this33700:27:35,813 --> 00:27:42,654happened in Cairo– Cairo is special for anumber of reasons but most of all33800:27:42,654 --> 00:27:48,593because it's the largest and oldestGeniza to have survived. So when I33900:27:48,593 --> 00:27:53,453say Cairo first of all, this is a bit ofa misnomer because in fact the place34000:27:53,453 --> 00:27:59,183where people actually lived in the 11thand 12th century was Fustat, which34100:27:59,183 --> 00:28:03,983was the older residential core, whereasCairo proper was a Palatine city that34200:28:03,983 --> 00:28:07,793was walled off and so you didn't get tohang out there unless you were part of34300:28:07,793 --> 00:28:17,533government circles. The Fatimid dynastyarose in North Africa and 909 and they34400:28:17,533 --> 00:28:21,894entered Egypt in 969, they hadmade several attempts to conquer Egypt34500:28:21,894 --> 00:28:26,933but they were finally successful in 969and it was bloodless because Egypt was34600:28:26,933 --> 00:28:32,034in administrative disarraywhen they came in and they immediately34700:28:32,034 --> 00:28:36,894set about building a number ofbuildings that still stand today, so if34800:28:36,894 --> 00:28:41,544you go to Cairo today and you want tosee some Fatimid buildings, you should34900:28:41,544 --> 00:28:46,254ask to see Islamic Cairo, whereas if youwant to see Fustat, don't ask for35000:28:46,254 --> 00:28:52,464Fustat because people will laugh atyou, ask for Coptic Cairo, called thus35100:28:52,464 --> 00:28:56,724because there are lots of medievalCoptic churches that survive there. So35200:28:56,724 --> 00:29:02,304the Fatimids arose in central NorthAfrica in 909 and if you watch35300:29:02,304 --> 00:29:07,434the map carefully, it's about to turnmore green than lavender as the Fatimids35400:29:07,434 --> 00:29:12,804conquer Egypt, Syria, and part ofthe Arabian Peninsula, which essentially35500:29:12,804 --> 00:29:20,484means that they're taking the biggesttax yielding regions outside of Iraq for35600:29:20,484 --> 00:29:25,494themselves and depriving the AbbasidEmpire of lots and lots of revenue. The35700:29:25,494 --> 00:29:32,784change was palpable at the time. There'sa geographer from Palestine from the35800:29:32,784 --> 00:29:38,39410th century, he's writing about 985 andhe himself actually says Baghdad has35900:29:38,394 --> 00:29:41,754been superseded until the day ofjudgment, Egypt's Metropole has now36000:29:41,754 --> 00:29:45,294become the greatest glory of the Muslims.So there's an idea that Baghdad is great36100:29:45,294 --> 00:29:53,424but that was then, this is now, now Cairois the important city. So this is the36200:29:53,424 --> 00:29:57,584city of Fustat and the yellowbuildings here are Christian churches,36300:29:57,584 --> 00:30:02,994the ones that survived. In the blue yousee the Ben Ezra Synagogue, and that's36400:30:02,994 --> 00:30:06,804where the Cairo Geniza was kept. The waythis looks on the ground is if you go36500:30:06,804 --> 00:30:10,614down this alley and hang a left at thegentleman with the cane, if you hit the36600:30:10,614 --> 00:30:14,484Coptic museum you've gone too far.What you're looking for is this. This is36700:30:14,484 --> 00:30:18,424the Ben Ezra Synagogue as it wasrefurbished after 1991.36800:30:18,424 --> 00:30:23,124It actually looks from this photo muchlarger than it is. If you go inside, it's36900:30:23,124 --> 00:30:28,044a little jewel box of a synagogue, smallenough, I would say probably just about37000:30:28,044 --> 00:30:33,174the size and volume of this room, thatwhen I first went there, I had to totally37100:30:33,174 --> 00:30:38,214revise my notions either of the Jewishpopulation of medieval Cairo or of how37200:30:38,214 --> 00:30:41,484many people actually made it tosynagogue on a regular basis37300:30:41,484 --> 00:30:44,694or possibly and how many synagoguesthere were, because it's a very, very37400:30:44,694 --> 00:30:49,704small space. At the same time the spacethat you'll see is a simulacrum, it's not37500:30:49,704 --> 00:30:53,123actually the medieval synagogue, it wasbuilt on the site of the medieval37600:30:53,123 --> 00:30:56,634synagogue supposedly on the footprints, Imean there are people who in the 19th37700:30:56,634 --> 00:30:59,424century had seen the old building andthen they saw the new building that was37800:30:59,424 --> 00:31:03,654built in the 1890s and they were likeyes, yes it's just the same but do we37900:31:03,654 --> 00:31:10,674really know? No. If you go–– if you look atthis photo there's a mezzanine level and38000:31:10,674 --> 00:31:15,854on the left-hand side of the mezzanine,the mezzanine is the women's gallery, and38100:31:15,854 --> 00:31:19,524if you go on the left hand side ofthe mezzanine all the way to the38200:31:19,524 --> 00:31:23,274front wall of the synagogue, you'll see alittle hole in the wall and again that38300:31:23,274 --> 00:31:27,623hole in the wall is not actuallyhistorically accurate because for much38400:31:27,623 --> 00:31:32,003of the 19th century, the Geniza wasaccessible only via a hole in the roof,38500:31:32,003 --> 00:31:36,984so it was a totally walled off chamberthat people were not accessing on a38600:31:36,984 --> 00:31:40,854regular basis. What was going on in theMiddle Ages, we don't actually know.38700:31:40,854 --> 00:31:45,174Whether it was accessible via a hole inthe wall or via a hole in the roof is38800:31:45,174 --> 00:31:53,243not entirely clear. One of the advantagesof being in Cairo–– people think that38900:31:53,243 --> 00:31:56,363Geniza survived the way it didbecause of the dryness of Cairo. Cairo is39000:31:56,363 --> 00:32:03,384actually not that dry. Cairo... what Cairohas to its advantage or to the advantage39100:32:03,384 --> 00:32:09,294of manuscripts is even humidity. So youknow the humidity level will be39200:32:09,294 --> 00:32:14,604about 45 degrees in the winter. It'll goup to about 60 in the early summer and39300:32:14,604 --> 00:32:19,373then it kind of falls gently back downto 45 degrees humidity, which turns out39400:32:19,373 --> 00:32:24,474to be the perfect humidity level forpreserving paper, parchment, and39500:32:24,474 --> 00:32:30,264papyrus. But there's another factor aswell, it's not just the climate. If39600:32:30,264 --> 00:32:34,704anyone's ever been to Cairo, you knowabout the dust. So the dust of Cairo is a39700:32:34,704 --> 00:32:38,334very particular kind of dust. I'm nottalking now about what happens when39800:32:38,334 --> 00:32:42,144there's a sandstorm, that's different. I'mtalking about just the average everyday39900:32:42,144 --> 00:32:47,363dust of Cairo which– it's like a thing.Like if you live in Cairo you have to40000:32:47,363 --> 00:32:50,873dust your bookshelves every day even ifyou're keeping your windows closed. It40100:32:50,873 --> 00:32:56,243sort of fills your, you know, sinusesand, you know, with this kind of wonderful40200:32:56,243 --> 00:33:00,204heady cocktail of diesel fuel. If you'vebeen there you know just what I'm40300:33:00,204 --> 00:33:04,464talking about– I find it completelyaddictive. But I didn't understand until40400:33:04,464 --> 00:33:08,274I talked to a friend of mine there who'sa historic preservationist, Noel Hassan,40500:33:08,274 --> 00:33:12,534who explained to me that the source ofthe dust is not the desert. The source of40600:33:12,534 --> 00:33:17,843the dust is actually the Mokattam massifwhich is a limestone cliff that40700:33:17,843 --> 00:33:24,084overlooks Cairo and it's friable, so thedust is actually coming from there and40800:33:24,084 --> 00:33:30,084that means that it's limestone dust, andlimestone by definition is 50% calcium40900:33:30,084 --> 00:33:34,493carbonate, which is chalk, which turns outto be a fantastic substance for41000:33:34,493 --> 00:33:39,233preserving paper, parchment, and ink. Again,something I didn't realize until I41100:33:39,233 --> 00:33:42,444talked to a papermaker friend of minewho's like "you know, if you really want41200:33:42,444 --> 00:33:45,654to preserve this stuff you should putchalk in it." I was like "oh, light bulb." So41300:33:45,654 --> 00:33:50,514the dust turns out to have been very,very fortunate for the Geniza. The41400:33:50,514 --> 00:33:53,363story of the Geniza's discovery I'mnot gonna get into now, but I do just41500:33:53,363 --> 00:33:58,404want to flag the fact that it's acomplex story, much more complex than41600:33:58,404 --> 00:34:04,613anyone realized for most of the 20thcentury. So the ice started to break41700:34:04,613 --> 00:34:08,573with this book, Sacred Trash by AdinaHoffman and Peter Cole, who pointed out41800:34:08,573 --> 00:34:13,194that there's a whole prehistory to thefamous moment when Solomon Schechter41900:34:13,194 --> 00:34:18,414from Cambridge emptied the chamber in1897, and that prehistory is a very, very42000:34:18,414 --> 00:34:21,774interesting and complicated one andexplains why the Geniza today is42100:34:21,774 --> 00:34:28,313dispersed over more than 60 collections. But even that book didn't actually get42200:34:28,313 --> 00:34:31,674to the bottom of it. Rebecca Jefferson,who used to work in the Geniza42300:34:31,674 --> 00:34:35,864Research Unit at Cambridge Universityand is now at the University of Florida,42400:34:35,864 --> 00:34:40,644is digging into the archives of peoplefrom the 19th century who were involved42500:34:40,644 --> 00:34:43,604in collecting these manuscripts, andthere are still many mysteries but she's42600:34:43,604 --> 00:34:52,553she solved many of them, so watch thisspace for her book. This is an iconic42700:34:52,553 --> 00:34:55,464picture of Solomon Schechter when he gothome from Cambridge with about42800:34:55,464 --> 00:34:59,724200,000 Geniza fragments.And this is what they looked like before42900:34:59,724 --> 00:35:03,714conservation. So the point being here:this is still happening today. This is a43000:35:03,714 --> 00:35:06,444photograph that I was sent by a paperconservator from the Jewish Theological43100:35:06,444 --> 00:35:12,394Seminary in 2015 after theyhad begun conserving43200:35:12,394 --> 00:35:17,104and encapsulating some of the fragmentsthat had literally never been sorted or43300:35:17,104 --> 00:35:23,404taken out of boxes. So no researcher hadever seen these and as soon as she sent43400:35:23,404 --> 00:35:27,484this to me, I got really excited becauseI was in the process of studying my, like,43500:35:27,484 --> 00:35:31,594favorite kind of document– this is gonna soundso boring– which is the Fatimid43600:35:31,594 --> 00:35:34,924tax receipt. I love tax receipts.And it turns out43700:35:34,924 --> 00:35:39,154that is a Fatimid tax receipt rightthere and I was like please, conserve43800:35:39,154 --> 00:35:41,884these so then she sent me the picturesof them conserved and I realized how great43900:35:41,884 --> 00:35:45,394it was that she had sent me the one– thepicture– of the unconserved documents.44000:35:45,394 --> 00:35:48,334So this is still going on every once in awhile like a shoe box will pop out of44100:35:48,334 --> 00:35:53,194the closet of the grandson of an early20th century Geniza researcher– this44200:35:53,194 --> 00:35:57,964happened a few years ago, to a friend ofmine in London. So not everything is44300:35:57,964 --> 00:36:02,284accounted for. But even the things thatare accounted for, less than half of it44400:36:02,284 --> 00:36:06,094has been identified, let alone deciphered.So what I'm going to tell you now are44500:36:06,094 --> 00:36:09,244some provisional statistics, but thiscould all change depending on what44600:36:09,244 --> 00:36:13,804happens with research in the next decadeor two. So the vast majority of what we44700:36:13,804 --> 00:36:19,804have from the Geniza dates from thisperiod between 950 and 1250, about which44800:36:19,804 --> 00:36:24,814we knew very, very little before theGanesa came to light, although there are44900:36:24,814 --> 00:36:29,014significant pockets of information fromthe 16th and the 19th centuries which45000:36:29,014 --> 00:36:31,954are finally beginning to get their due,by which I mean there are like two45100:36:31,954 --> 00:36:35,074researchers now as opposed to zerowho are interested in the later45200:36:35,074 --> 00:36:40,294Geniza material. The grand total isabout 400,000 pages or45300:36:40,294 --> 00:36:44,824fragments of pages which is considerablymore than you may have heard. This is45400:36:44,824 --> 00:36:48,064only in part because of those shoeboxesthat are like coming out of the woodwork.45500:36:48,064 --> 00:36:51,964This is also because there arecomputerized methods of counting what45600:36:51,964 --> 00:36:55,564are called multi-fragments, which is tinyfragments that are bound, like a hundred45700:36:55,564 --> 00:36:59,184to the page, so those used to be countedas one and now they're actually counted45800:36:59,184 --> 00:37:07,534singly. But 90% are "books." I put this inquotation marks because a book in the45900:37:07,534 --> 00:37:12,724Middle Ages as many things. So a book isa text meant for posterity, written as it46000:37:12,724 --> 00:37:15,574were on speakerphone in the sense thatyou don't know quite who's gonna read it46100:37:15,574 --> 00:37:20,854in the future, even if you've dedicated itto an individual. But physically, a book46200:37:20,854 --> 00:37:23,714can take forms. There's thecodex, which is the46300:37:23,714 --> 00:37:28,334book as we know it and there are very fewwhole codices that survived in the46400:37:28,334 --> 00:37:32,464Geniza because generally speaking, whatyou were putting in there was old books.46500:37:32,464 --> 00:37:38,983This is a fascinating codex because it'sa copy of a biblical book that didn't46600:37:38,983 --> 00:37:42,553make it into the Jewish canon, so itdemonstrates that Jews were reading non-46700:37:42,553 --> 00:37:47,293canonical literature in the Middle Ages,which nobody suspected. Nobody even knew46800:37:47,293 --> 00:37:50,864that the Hebrew original of thisparticular text had survived because46900:37:50,864 --> 00:37:53,533only the Christians had preserved thebook, so we knew the Greek but we didn't47000:37:53,533 --> 00:37:59,983know the Hebrew. And in the end,dozens of fragments of the book of47100:37:59,983 --> 00:38:04,513Ecclesiasticus have come to light fromthe Geniza, but only in 2018 did an47200:38:04,513 --> 00:38:09,704article emerge trying to put togetherthe actual codices from which these47300:38:09,704 --> 00:38:20,204pages came. So that's the codex. Then, thecodex consists of smaller units which47400:38:20,204 --> 00:38:26,114codacologists– specialists in books–call choirs, and a choir is a number of47500:38:26,114 --> 00:38:31,473bifolio pages nested together. This isfrom a collection in Saint Petersburg.47600:38:31,473 --> 00:38:36,344It's a manuscript that Luke Yarbrough,who's here, is working on together with a47700:38:36,344 --> 00:38:40,574team of researchers and it's a totallyfascinating one-off text. It seems to be47800:38:40,574 --> 00:38:45,283an administrative manual, like governmentadministrative manual from late 11th47900:38:45,283 --> 00:38:51,553century Palestine. So it's in the form ofa choir, so 10 pages essentially. Here's48000:38:51,553 --> 00:38:56,894another example of a choir. This is aliturgical text in Hebrew, the48100:38:56,894 --> 00:39:00,733author of which we actually know, which isnot so common. So that's the second form48200:39:00,733 --> 00:39:04,124of the book. The third form of thebook is the horizontal scroll, which is a48300:39:04,124 --> 00:39:08,384much older form. That had been kind ofthe major form of the book in antiquity48400:39:08,384 --> 00:39:13,513until the codex started to make inroads,especially among Christian books and the48500:39:13,513 --> 00:39:17,263story of how the codex finally madeinroads among Jews is a fascinating one,48600:39:17,263 --> 00:39:22,124because for most of antiquity, Jewsavoided writing anything in codex form48700:39:22,124 --> 00:39:28,033and stuck to the scroll, probably becausethe codex was kind of, you know, smacked48800:39:28,033 --> 00:39:31,454of Christianity, and Jews wanted to maketheir books look different from48900:39:31,454 --> 00:39:34,754Christian books. But then what happenedis that when the Muslims49000:39:34,754 --> 00:39:39,944came along, they as a minority livingamong, you know, a huge sea of Christians,49100:39:39,944 --> 00:39:43,544they wanted to make their holy book looklike a serious holy book, so what are you49200:39:43,544 --> 00:39:46,484gonna do? You're gonna make it look likea Christian book. So the earliest Quran49300:39:46,484 --> 00:39:50,804manuscripts that we have are in codexform, and at that point the Jews look at49400:39:50,804 --> 00:39:55,634the codex and they say okay, now it'skosher for us too. So the scroll, the49500:39:55,634 --> 00:39:59,204horizontal scroll, became a kind ofantiquated form for the Jews already by49600:39:59,204 --> 00:40:02,714this period, and was used mainly only forliturgical purposes, like reading Torah49700:40:02,714 --> 00:40:10,094scrolls. Then there's the vertical scroll.So this is a very strange form of the49800:40:10,094 --> 00:40:14,234book. It doesn't look like a book to us,it looks more like a document, but in49900:40:14,234 --> 00:40:21,284fact Jews routinely wrote literary textsin this long form — the one I'm showing50000:40:21,284 --> 00:40:25,184you right now is about three meters long —and they particularly seem to have50100:40:25,184 --> 00:40:30,624written text for performances in thelong rotulis form.50200:40:32,104 --> 00:40:34,364That's what it looks like up close.50300:40:35,104 --> 00:40:40,154Okay, so those are quote-unquote books.Complicated issue, right? Summed up by one50400:40:40,154 --> 00:40:45,464word: books. The other 10% of what's in the Geniza are documents and again the50500:40:45,464 --> 00:40:51,194figure of 40,000 is quite a bit higher–certainly than what I was taught– so S.D.50600:40:51,194 --> 00:40:54,554Goitein, who founded the field ofDocumentary Geniza Studies, used to50700:40:54,554 --> 00:40:58,784estimate that there were between 10 and 15,000 documents and that's50800:40:58,784 --> 00:41:01,754what the second generation ofDocumentary Geniza scholars, his50900:41:01,754 --> 00:41:05,474students, including my teacher Mark Cohen,also used to go with, by way of an51000:41:05,474 --> 00:41:12,284estimate. But now that we have digitalmethods, by which I mean that people have51100:41:12,284 --> 00:41:15,944actually made an attempt to photographevery single Geniza document, we have a51200:41:15,944 --> 00:41:20,354much better sense of numbers, and so thecurrent figure that I'm citing is 40,00051300:41:20,354 --> 00:41:24,914which sounds, like, insanely high if– likeme– you were educated thinking about 1051400:41:24,914 --> 00:41:30,974to 15,000 documents. But infact, the Princeton Geniza Project, which I51500:41:30,974 --> 00:41:35,864took over when I came to Princeton in2015, now has nearly 30,00051600:41:35,864 --> 00:41:40,684records, so I think 40,000 isprobably not an unreasonable estimate.51700:41:41,484 --> 00:41:47,024I just want to point out here: the greatfat eunuch. This is real, like you51800:41:47,024 --> 00:41:51,104can't make this stuff up, but whatwe do is we make an effort to have that51900:41:51,104 --> 00:41:53,984document always be the first one in thedatabase so it's the first thing you see52000:41:53,984 --> 00:41:57,524when you go to the Princeton GenizaProject website. This is catalogued by52100:41:57,524 --> 00:42:02,894my friend Oded Zinger, who has a knackfor finding the most hilarious Geniza52200:42:02,894 --> 00:42:08,354documents. Okay, so those arethe documents. The linguistic situation52300:42:08,354 --> 00:42:13,874is relatively simple. The documents tendto be in Judeo-Arabic– again, Arabic and52400:42:13,874 --> 00:42:20,864Hebrew characters in Hebrew, occasionallyin Aramaic, which is like fancy, if you52500:42:20,864 --> 00:42:25,904want to use old legal terminology, aswell as Arabic script. So that's kind of52600:42:25,904 --> 00:42:29,324what you can expect to find: lots ofHebrew script, lots of Arabic script. But52700:42:29,324 --> 00:42:34,334then– and here's an example of bothtogether. So here's a Hebrew script52800:42:34,334 --> 00:42:37,964document. This is a marriage contract. Even if you knew absolutely nothing52900:42:37,964 --> 00:42:42,284about either Hebrew or about medievaldocuments, you could probably guess at53000:42:42,284 --> 00:42:46,184what this was, because you see at thebottom a bunch of handwriting that53100:42:46,184 --> 00:42:49,814doesn't look like it's written in thesame hand as the rest of the document. It53200:42:49,814 --> 00:42:53,584turns out that those are signatures, andthis is a legal document with 1153300:42:53,584 --> 00:42:57,764signatories. These guys are actually apretty calligraphic bunch, but one of the53400:42:57,764 --> 00:43:01,484great things about signatures ashistorical evidence is that you can see,53500:43:01,484 --> 00:43:05,264kind of, the varying states of semi-illiteracy that people had. Sometimes53600:43:05,264 --> 00:43:08,174they could only write their names, theycould only write them in something53700:43:08,174 --> 00:43:13,934approximating square script, but they hadnever learned to write beyond that. This53800:43:13,934 --> 00:43:17,444is an Arabic script document that wasdiscovered by a graduate student in a53900:43:17,444 --> 00:43:23,114seminar that I was teaching two yearsago. It's a business letter in Arabic54000:43:23,114 --> 00:43:28,394that mentions various red sea ports, aswell as India. So this is basically an54100:43:28,394 --> 00:43:34,514Indian Ocean trade letter that had notyet been identified or noticed or54200:43:34,514 --> 00:43:37,634discovered by any of the people who wereactually working on Indian Ocean54300:43:37,634 --> 00:43:42,734documents, and that's just to give you asense. I had six graduate students in54400:43:42,734 --> 00:43:48,074that seminar, and over the course of thesemester, this came to light. Another54500:43:48,074 --> 00:43:51,524couple of interesting things came tolight, but the best one was when, you know,54600:43:51,524 --> 00:43:55,244I had the students just go through, like,piles and piles of Arabic script54700:43:55,244 --> 00:43:59,264documents to try to identify whateverthey could and then they would email54800:43:59,264 --> 00:44:01,273me the night before the seminar andkind of give me the rundown,54900:44:01,273 --> 00:44:05,654and then we'd come to class and we'd tryto read one or two of them. And so55000:44:05,654 --> 00:44:09,824one of them emails me the night beforeclass, and he says, "Nothing that exciting55100:44:09,824 --> 00:44:14,924this week, I found a petition to Saladin,"who's the first Ayyubid Sultan, and55200:44:14,924 --> 00:44:18,703it was so great because whenyou make these discoveries, you don't55300:44:18,703 --> 00:44:22,273often know that you're even making adiscovery, right? So he thought, "Oh, this is55400:44:22,273 --> 00:44:25,364totally normal, a petition to Saladin." Isaid to him, "There's only one other55500:44:25,364 --> 00:44:28,934petition to Saladin that has survived onthe planet Earth, and you've just55600:44:28,934 --> 00:44:33,703discovered number two."So the discoveries are still coming.55700:44:33,703 --> 00:44:40,184And then there are curiosities. So thiswas discovered by Gideon Bohak at55800:44:40,184 --> 00:44:47,313Tel Aviv University in 2008 anddespite the best efforts of Indyk55900:44:47,313 --> 00:44:50,384linguists and philologists, nobodyactually knows what language it's written56000:44:50,384 --> 00:44:55,664in. I've given it to a couple ofspecialists who said, "You know, Indyk56100:44:55,664 --> 00:44:59,324dialectology is really, really difficult.This seems to be something resembling56200:44:59,324 --> 00:45:03,944southern Gujarati." So basically we don'tknow what language it's written in, but one56300:45:03,944 --> 00:45:09,644thing that we do know is that there arepeppercorns in this text, which makes me56400:45:09,644 --> 00:45:12,973really happy because if it had been likea copy of some literary text that we56500:45:12,973 --> 00:45:17,594have kind of, you know, a dime-a-dozen,I would have been a sad panda, but it56600:45:17,594 --> 00:45:24,134seems to be some kind of commoditybearing document in a Sanskri-derived56700:45:24,134 --> 00:45:29,624script, which stands to reason because ofall of the Jews in the Indian Ocean56800:45:29,624 --> 00:45:34,453trade, so this must have made it back toCairo somehow in a trader's personal56900:45:34,453 --> 00:45:40,934archive. Okay, so I want to say a littlebit about the Indian Ocean trade because57000:45:40,934 --> 00:45:46,513this is really where, for me, the pennydropped, when I started to try to think57100:45:46,513 --> 00:45:50,164in a kind of summary way about, okay, well,what actually has the Geniza taught us?57200:45:50,164 --> 00:45:55,453We've known that there were somethinglike 600-700 documents that have57300:45:55,453 --> 00:46:00,194survived documenting trade in thewestern Indian Ocean, trade by Jews, but57400:46:00,194 --> 00:46:05,444Jews had trading partners who weren'tJews as well. But it's not really until57500:46:05,444 --> 00:46:09,434you kind of look into the documents thatto understand the momentousness of this.57600:46:09,434 --> 00:46:15,944So the trade routes, first of all,the Indian Ocean trade and the57700:46:15,944 --> 00:46:20,023Mediterranean trade are connected. What'sbeing traded in the Mediterranean, much57800:46:20,023 --> 00:46:24,434of it actually comes from the IndianOcean, which I hadn't realized when I ––57900:46:24,434 --> 00:46:30,553until I really started looking at thestuff. And there you see Egypt at the58000:46:30,553 --> 00:46:37,394kind of hinge between these two trades.Now, how you actually get to India– so58100:46:37,394 --> 00:46:40,574it's kind of incredible that anybodymanaged to do this at all–58200:46:40,574 --> 00:46:44,493the one thing that you needed to do wasto studiously avoid the Northern Red Sea,58300:46:44,493 --> 00:46:51,973because the Northern Red Sea has coralreefs and bad winds, and it was the most58400:46:51,973 --> 00:46:55,783dangerous passage you could imagine, soinstead you would go up the Nile, and58500:46:55,784 --> 00:47:00,424then you would go overland at Kush,and then you would set out sailing on the58600:47:00,424 --> 00:47:05,764Red Sea at Quseir. You would sailsouth. Aden became a very, very important58700:47:05,764 --> 00:47:10,094port along this trade, although it's notactually a very well endowed natural58800:47:10,094 --> 00:47:15,584harbor, but what the Adenese did was toprovide services to boats that other58900:47:15,584 --> 00:47:19,303harbors didn't provide. They kind of, youknow, they tried harder, like, I don't know,59000:47:19,303 --> 00:47:25,334the HBSC of their day or something.And then eventually, you'd go over59100:47:25,334 --> 00:47:34,033by the Persian Gulf and to the westerncoast of India. But what it actually felt59200:47:34,033 --> 00:47:40,334like to do that is another question. Sothis is a letter from a trader who is59300:47:40,334 --> 00:47:44,414originally from Libya, from Tripoli inLibya, and he's writing to his brother59400:47:44,414 --> 00:47:49,243back home in 1103, and he's describingwhat for him was an absolutely59500:47:49,243 --> 00:47:53,563terrifying journey, and it was terrifyingfor him not because of storms, not59600:47:53,563 --> 00:47:58,813because the ship found or anything likethat, but because the methods of boat59700:47:58,813 --> 00:48:02,503building in the Mediterranean and theIndian Ocean were different. So in the59800:48:02,503 --> 00:48:06,313Mediterranean, you have boats that weremade with nails, and in the Indian Ocean59900:48:06,313 --> 00:48:10,753you had boats that were tied togetherwith coconut coir ropes, which he found60000:48:10,753 --> 00:48:15,674to be uniquely terrifying, so he says,"Then we left the machlein, which I still60100:48:15,674 --> 00:48:19,334don't know where it is, and set sail on aship that had in it not a single nail of60200:48:19,334 --> 00:48:22,634iron, but rather was tied together withropes, may God protect us with his60300:48:22,634 --> 00:48:27,404shield." So he's just getting going. So nowhe describes the journey60400:48:27,404 --> 00:48:33,824on the Red Sea and he describes it ina rhyme. "I arrived in Aybeb, which is truly60500:48:33,824 --> 00:48:38,324a city of tribulations of ebb. We arrivedat a city called Sowacken, which is60600:48:38,324 --> 00:48:42,434really a most frightening place, a halde macken.Then we arrived at a city called60700:48:42,434 --> 00:48:45,884Badia, the jjone that cuts, for it is justas the name says, the most bitter,60800:48:45,884 --> 00:48:50,264frightening, miserable of places. Then wearrived at a city called Dahlak, the60900:48:50,264 --> 00:48:54,704following adage is said about it, but yousurpass them all, it is a ruinous land,61000:48:54,704 --> 00:49:01,874ballad mohalek." So he's clearly enjoyingthe, you know, the storytelling here, but61100:49:01,874 --> 00:49:06,464nonetheless it gives you a sense of how,kind of, terrifyingly different this must61200:49:06,464 --> 00:49:11,264have been for those who were used to theMediterranean trade. These are the61300:49:11,264 --> 00:49:14,594scholars who've done the lion's share ofthe work on the Indian Ocean trade. They61400:49:14,594 --> 00:49:18,074largely focused on the philology, justtrying to understand what the documents61500:49:18,074 --> 00:49:22,844say, which itself is not for the faint ofheart, but there's much, much more to be61600:49:22,844 --> 00:49:28,934done in terms of historicalcontextualization. Goitein–– So, Goitein61700:49:28,934 --> 00:49:32,894died in 1985. His student MordechaiAkiva Friedman took over the India61800:49:32,894 --> 00:49:37,543documents project from him. It took him25 years to publish volumes 1 through 4.61900:49:37,543 --> 00:49:41,974Volumes 5 through 7 are sitting in afiling cabinet in Princeton, New Jersey.62000:49:41,974 --> 00:49:46,724Okay, so one of the things that I'm tryingto do is, like, you know, bring in the62100:49:46,724 --> 00:49:49,214scholars who will actually get thisstuff out into the public.62200:49:49,214 --> 00:49:53,924It's much likelier that they'll goonline before they go between covers62300:49:53,924 --> 00:49:59,474because I simply want them to be outthere and available. So this is where we62400:49:59,474 --> 00:50:03,974get the Eastern Indian Ocean. This wassuper surprising to me when I found it,62500:50:03,974 --> 00:50:06,644and then I realized that it actuallyread these texts several times before––62600:50:06,644 --> 00:50:10,934before I, you know, was able to locatethem on a map and realize what was going62700:50:10,934 --> 00:50:17,264on. This is a draft of a court record inthe hand of Maimonides' son, Abraham62800:50:17,264 --> 00:50:21,524Maimonides, is from 1226 and the recordsays, "We the undersigned members of the62900:50:21,524 --> 00:50:25,424court, assembled in a court session inFustat on Tuesday" – the dating systems63000:50:25,424 --> 00:50:30,553are crazy – "1226 CE. Abu Sa'id Aleve, son of the63100:50:30,553 --> 00:50:35,024elder Abu Maran Aleve, themerchant known as Dejanji, testified to us63200:50:35,024 --> 00:50:39,524that Abu Fudul al-Moughard al-Schyendendyknown as Ibn Something,63300:50:39,524 --> 00:50:43,554died in Kala in the lands ofof something-or-other."63400:50:43,554 --> 00:50:49,014So we know that that's actually Malaysia."He checked and certified this one, he63500:50:49,014 --> 00:50:52,974went to el Malabar, which is theMalabar Coast in India, and when he63600:50:52,974 --> 00:50:56,544deposited his testimony in our presence.We wrote it down for it to be a title of63700:50:56,544 --> 00:51:02,514right and proof." Okay, so basically a Jewdies in the Eastern Indian Ocean in 1226.63800:51:02,514 --> 00:51:08,994Is this significant? So it turns out he'snot the only one. So this is the port of63900:51:08,994 --> 00:51:15,674Funsour, which is where a lot ofcamphor came out of in this period64000:51:15,674 --> 00:51:21,474and this is also a document to do withAbraham Maimonides from a few64100:51:21,474 --> 00:51:26,364years earlier. So the question here hasto do with what happened to the wives of64200:51:26,364 --> 00:51:30,594these India traders who were left behind, if they disappeared, right? There's a64300:51:30,594 --> 00:51:33,834problem in Jewish law: if you don't havea proper divorce document, you can't64400:51:33,834 --> 00:51:37,284remarry, meaning if yourhusband disappears, you––64500:51:37,284 --> 00:51:43,844and there's no proof of his death and hehasn't left you conditional divorce64600:51:43,844 --> 00:51:49,674documents, then you can never remarry. Soa man traveled to the lands of India and64700:51:49,674 --> 00:51:52,794he spent 15 years there. Not a singleletter has arrived from him. His wife64800:51:52,794 --> 00:51:55,314works, eats, and providesfor two children. He has a64900:51:55,314 --> 00:51:59,484mother and when he went to India, wethink he also left her behind. "A Jewish65000:51:59,484 --> 00:52:03,924man was sent from Aden to close a deal. Imet him and asked him to tell me the65100:52:03,924 --> 00:52:08,754news regarding the man who was missing"– presumably. "He told me, we heard in Aden65200:52:08,754 --> 00:52:12,144from those docked in the bay that hedied in Funsour, at which point the65300:52:12,144 --> 00:52:16,254government there took his possessions.Instruct us, our teacher, is this65400:52:16,254 --> 00:52:20,934testimony sufficient to permit thewife's remarriage?" And alas the answer is65500:52:20,934 --> 00:52:25,974no, in fact, that this counts as hearsay,it doesn't count as a properly witnessed65600:52:25,974 --> 00:52:32,094fact and therefore she can't remarry. Sothis is a text that Goitein discovered65700:52:32,094 --> 00:52:34,944half of it. He discoveredthe right half and he65800:52:34,944 --> 00:52:38,454published it with a speculativereconstruction of what the left half65900:52:38,454 --> 00:52:42,714might have said, which when the left halfwas later located, turned out to be like66000:52:42,714 --> 00:52:46,64480 percent correct which was kind ofmind-blowing.66100:52:46,644 --> 00:52:51,534I had an undergraduate student whoworked on on these two documents last66200:52:51,534 --> 00:52:54,084year who pointed outto me that actually, when66300:52:54,084 --> 00:52:58,944you look at the way Jewish law wasshaped, you have to remember that it's66400:52:58,944 --> 00:53:04,044not just the rabbis who are shaping it.It's also the wives of the husbands who66500:53:04,044 --> 00:53:08,934are missing like thousands and thousandsof kilometers away. You have to have a66600:53:08,934 --> 00:53:13,884much, much, kind of, bigger vision of whatthe Jewish community is, than just the66700:53:13,884 --> 00:53:17,364organized Jewish community that you canactually see through the documents that66800:53:17,364 --> 00:53:21,294we know best. So this was kind of like, Iwas listening to him give a presentation66900:53:21,294 --> 00:53:29,904on class and I said, "I gotta totallyrevise my my vision here." Okay, so that's67000:53:29,904 --> 00:53:36,894just to give you a sense of how this hasall changed, and to give you a sense, as67100:53:36,894 --> 00:53:41,004well as of the geographic breadth, butthere's also quite a bit of depth. There67200:53:41,004 --> 00:53:45,564is depth on the daily lives ofcongregations and congregants. We know67300:53:45,564 --> 00:53:49,734from Eve Krakowski's book– I understand shespoke here a couple of years ago– there67400:53:49,734 --> 00:53:56,784was more divorce, more extramarital sex,more quasi-independent women, less67500:53:56,784 --> 00:54:01,914literacy, less piety, more internecinestrife, which– of course– I love. I love to67600:54:01,914 --> 00:54:07,944write about, you know, Jews who fight withother Jews. Krakowski also points out67700:54:07,944 --> 00:54:11,754that there's only a minority ofchildren who are likely to live with a67800:54:11,754 --> 00:54:15,474single set of adults in a singlehousehold over their lifetimes. So very67900:54:15,474 --> 00:54:18,984flexible living arrangements, and if youlook at archaeological excavations from68000:54:18,984 --> 00:54:23,484medieval Cairo, you can actually see howthis works because there's not a lot of68100:54:23,484 --> 00:54:29,354mobile furniture. The seatingarrangements are built into the walls.68200:54:29,354 --> 00:54:36,774People didn't have a lot of stuff, andpeople had extended families to whom68300:54:36,774 --> 00:54:42,684they passed back and forth on a regularbasis. The implications of that for the68400:54:42,684 --> 00:54:47,274transmission of Jewish tradition in anage when Judaism was learned not from68500:54:47,274 --> 00:54:51,884books, but mimetically, from imitatingthe grown-ups around you, are also68600:54:51,884 --> 00:54:58,524momentous. Krakowski explores the idea oflived customs versus technical, legal68700:54:58,524 --> 00:55:02,844norms. What she means by that is that onthe one hand, when you look at how Jews68800:55:02,844 --> 00:55:05,664were actually living, it's verysimilar to how68900:55:05,664 --> 00:55:09,563Muslims were practicing marriage anddivorce arrangements. At the same time,69000:55:09,563 --> 00:55:13,404the rabbinic technical norms were verydifferent from Islamic law, so how are69100:55:13,404 --> 00:55:18,023they squaring these two? And that's whather book is about. So that's just one69200:55:18,023 --> 00:55:23,783area of depth that's opened up recentlyis gender and the family. There's quite a69300:55:23,783 --> 00:55:28,734bit more Arabic script than we realized,including Jews who are having their69400:55:28,734 --> 00:55:34,704cases against other Jews tried inecology courts, and there's a lot more69500:55:34,704 --> 00:55:39,293takeout food than I would haveanticipated. So just as Cairo today is,69600:55:39,293 --> 00:55:43,254like, the global center of take-out food,so too in the Middle Ages. It was much, much69700:55:43,254 --> 00:55:45,114more likely that you weregetting your food69800:55:45,114 --> 00:55:49,763hot from the market in a food carrierthan cooking it at home, because the last69900:55:49,763 --> 00:55:56,244place you wanted a fire was in yourhouse. This is a strange little text. It70000:55:56,244 --> 00:56:01,194seems to be some kind of a shopping listwith a number of foods including, at the70100:56:01,194 --> 00:56:06,114end, a fat hen– again, youcan't make this stuff up– and what's70200:56:06,114 --> 00:56:11,154written on the other side is a sectionfrom the Babylonian Talmud to do with70300:56:11,154 --> 00:56:16,013the kosher slaughtering of animals. Soyou can try to reconstruct for yourself70400:56:16,013 --> 00:56:19,584where this little slip of paper mighthave come from, you know, somebody's70500:56:19,584 --> 00:56:24,384basket in the marketplace or perhaps ameat stall or something like that. This70600:56:24,384 --> 00:56:30,624was, you know, I don't know, the guy who wasoverseeing the butchery dropped70700:56:30,624 --> 00:56:35,184it or something like that.And finally, there's quite a bit more70800:56:35,184 --> 00:56:41,214magic than we realized.So this is a set of amulets against70900:56:41,214 --> 00:56:45,834scorpions, hence the drawingsof scorpions that the71000:56:45,834 --> 00:56:49,854amulet writer wrote in multiple, andapparently he only managed to sell just71100:56:49,854 --> 00:56:54,684a few of his amulets, and the rest ofthem survived together. But these would71200:56:54,684 --> 00:57:00,293have been cut apart into pieces and keptrolled up in an amulet holder71300:57:00,293 --> 00:57:06,834around the neck. So all of this has kindof emerged in the last two or three71400:57:06,834 --> 00:57:10,793years, and this is typical of the wayresearch goes in this field. It proceeds71500:57:10,793 --> 00:57:14,604slowly and pointillistically. You get akind of pinprick of light here, a71600:57:14,604 --> 00:57:17,604pinprick of light there, and until youcan actually make a connection between71700:57:17,604 --> 00:57:21,664them, sometimes it takesa long time. On top of that, the71800:57:21,664 --> 00:57:25,023manuscripts are fragmentary. They'rehoused in 60 collections on four71900:57:25,023 --> 00:57:29,914continents, and the skills needed to makesense of them are specialized. But that72000:57:29,914 --> 00:57:34,384said, digital technology has changedeverything. So we had this kind of72100:57:34,384 --> 00:57:38,253illusion in the humanities that we're,like, in our monks cells working in72200:57:38,253 --> 00:57:45,213solitude, but the possibilities ofcollaboration that digital technologies72300:57:45,213 --> 00:57:48,213have opened up, I think, have forced us toadmit that in fact what we do is much72400:57:48,213 --> 00:57:53,684more similar to what the scientists dowhen they work in labs together.72500:57:53,684 --> 00:57:58,464It's also enabled us to go back to imagesconstantly, and to be looking at the72600:57:58,473 --> 00:58:04,053texts. I wrote my entire dissertationbased on printed texts, based on Geniza72700:58:04,053 --> 00:58:07,834text that had been edited by somebodyelse, meaning printed text without72800:58:07,834 --> 00:58:12,453looking at the originals. That'sunthinkable today. You learn so much just72900:58:12,453 --> 00:58:16,384by looking at the text. And what thatmeans, the corollary of that, is that our73000:58:16,384 --> 00:58:20,763eyes have improved. We actually see moreon these texts than we were seeing a73100:58:20,763 --> 00:58:23,914generation ago. I don't think that'sentirely because we're looking at73200:58:23,914 --> 00:58:27,664more Geniza fragments, I think that mightalso be because of Instagram, but if it's73300:58:27,664 --> 00:58:34,263a good thing, that's fine. Okay, sothat's the, kind of, the Jewish history73400:58:34,263 --> 00:58:39,154side. More briefly, I want to give you aglimpse of what's changed in Middle73500:58:39,154 --> 00:58:44,104Eastern history, and then I'll bring itall home. So for the medieval Middle73600:58:44,104 --> 00:58:48,604East, if all we had to go on were theHebrew texts of the Cairo Geniza, we73700:58:48,604 --> 00:58:51,483would actually have a surprising amountof information about Christians and73800:58:51,483 --> 00:58:56,614Muslims. But that information would beskewed in one significant respect. It73900:58:56,614 --> 00:59:00,844would be about Christians and Jews– sorry,Christians and Muslims as seen by Jews,74000:59:00,844 --> 00:59:05,003by their trade partners, by theirneighbors, by their patrons and clients.74100:59:05,003 --> 00:59:10,174Fortunately, there are Arabic scripts aplenty,Arabic script texts aplenty, but74200:59:10,174 --> 00:59:13,503these have received much, much lessattention than the Hebrew script texts74300:59:13,503 --> 00:59:20,584have. Their legal deeds, and not justscattered legal deeds, but hundreds of74400:59:20,584 --> 00:59:25,023them. They're not easy to read, butluckily, being legal deeds, in many cases74500:59:25,023 --> 00:59:28,773they're formulaic so you can get thehang of it pretty quickly. There are74600:59:28,773 --> 00:59:31,664trade letters, in which case we have noway of knowing whether their74700:59:31,664 --> 00:59:35,503authors are Jews, Christians, or Muslims becauseJews also wrote trade letters in Arabic74800:59:35,503 --> 00:59:41,533script, and there are literary worksaplenty in which case, as well, we have no74900:59:41,533 --> 00:59:45,404idea what the religion of the scribewould have been, not even if the text is75000:59:45,404 --> 00:59:48,793the Quran because we have lots ofevidence that Jews and Christians copied75100:59:48,793 --> 00:59:53,624the Quran on a regular basis. Thematerial text can also teach us75200:59:53,624 --> 00:59:58,033something. So this is a fragment of theEpistle of the so-called Brethren of75300:59:58,033 --> 01:00:04,154Purity, the Ikhwan Al-Ṣafa, which is a workwritten in southern Iraq in the 10th75401:00:04,154 --> 01:00:12,224century in many, many volumes. It's afascinating, kind of, almnapedia by a75501:00:12,224 --> 01:00:17,004group of thinkers who were absolutelycommitted to classical ideals,75601:00:17,004 --> 01:00:23,884Pythagorean ideals in geometry, inmusic, and in calligraphy. And they were75701:00:23,894 --> 01:00:27,043responsible for revolution in Arabicscript, I have like a whole chapter on75801:00:27,043 --> 01:00:33,344this in my book because I found this sofascinating. And this is a copy of their75901:00:33,344 --> 01:00:38,824epistle on music written in preciselythe script that they actually prescribed76001:00:38,824 --> 01:00:43,454writing in. So this is like a typical,second half of the 10th century southern76101:00:43,454 --> 01:00:45,914Iraqi script and it survived in theGeniza.76201:00:45,914 --> 01:00:51,184So was this very fragment the vehiclefor the transmission of the Ikhwan Al-Ṣafa76301:00:51,184 --> 01:00:56,444from Iraq to Egypt? We don't know,but it's only by actually understanding76401:00:56,444 --> 01:01:07,934the material text that we can begin topiece bigger stories together. Then we76501:01:07,934 --> 01:01:17,144have texts that were reused by Jews. Solet me just back up one step. If the Geniza76601:01:17,144 --> 01:01:21,283was a repository for war in Hebrewscript text, why did non-Hebrew script76701:01:21,283 --> 01:01:25,513text survive in the Geniza? So I'm notgoing to give you every possible answer76801:01:25,513 --> 01:01:30,914to that question, because that would takeme 643 pages, but I will say that in some76901:01:30,914 --> 01:01:35,594cases, these texts survived in the Genizasimply because they were reused by Jews.77001:01:35,594 --> 01:01:42,104In other cases, Jews would have read themor used them as literary models. So why is77101:01:42,104 --> 01:01:45,084this so fascinating to me? Because herewe get into the territory of77201:01:45,084 --> 01:01:49,374Arjun Appadurai, The Social Life of Things, the most influential introduction ever77301:01:49,374 --> 01:01:53,424written to an edited volume. The argumentof which is that we can learn a lot77401:01:53,424 --> 01:01:57,054about an object by tracing not just itsproduction, but also its circulation and77501:01:57,054 --> 01:02:01,284exchange. And on that level, there was oneclass of document that really intrigued77601:02:01,284 --> 01:02:04,764me, which was documents that wereproduced by state officials, because77701:02:04,764 --> 01:02:08,814these were documents that changed hands.And I thought that if I tried to trace77801:02:08,814 --> 01:02:13,434all the hands through which these documentspassed, I could learn not only about the77901:02:13,434 --> 01:02:18,684Fatimid state, but also about how peoplerelated to the Fatimid state. So there78001:02:18,684 --> 01:02:23,784are decrees. These are Ottoman statedecrees that have been reused for Hebrew78101:02:23,784 --> 01:02:32,334script texts, all of these come from the1130s. There are many, many, many decree78201:02:32,334 --> 01:02:36,594fragments. Most of the tree fragmentsthat I found were actually sliced in78301:02:36,594 --> 01:02:42,474half vertically before they were thensent out, presumably onto the used paper78401:02:42,474 --> 01:02:46,524market, which is how Jews got their handson them. But there were many other78501:02:46,524 --> 01:02:52,044pathways by which Jews could get theirhands on government documents. These are78601:02:52,044 --> 01:02:54,924simply the most recognizable becausethey had these gigantic calligraphic78701:02:54,924 --> 01:02:59,064lines with enormous line spacing. Mycolleague Tamara Lafy refers to this as78801:02:59,064 --> 01:03:03,624"the sovereign privilege of waste," likewe're the caliphs, we can write as large78901:03:03,624 --> 01:03:11,664as we want to. There are petitions. Again,so many that it would be possible to79001:03:11,664 --> 01:03:15,854write a whole book just about thepetition and response procedure based on79101:03:15,854 --> 01:03:21,624Geniza documents. Their fiscalreceipt, these are my beloved tax79201:03:21,624 --> 01:03:28,404receipts. They're really, really hard toread. If you are fluent in Arabic and you79301:03:28,404 --> 01:03:32,154want, like, a real challenge,try your hand at one of these. Again,79401:03:32,154 --> 01:03:35,064luckily, they mostly say the same thing,so if it can read one, you can read79501:03:35,064 --> 01:03:40,734mostly all of them. And then there arestate memoranda. So in this case, we have79601:03:40,734 --> 01:03:47,694a memorandum in five different hands. Thebottom section had been published by S. M.79701:03:47,694 --> 01:03:51,294Stern and Geoffrey Khan before me. Theydidn't realize that there were another79801:03:51,294 --> 01:03:55,254two, actually now three, fragments thatconnected with these, so they didn't––79901:03:55,254 --> 01:03:59,134they weren't able to see thatthese were multiple hands. But80001:03:59,134 --> 01:04:01,684if you think about the fact that therewere five state officials writing on a80101:04:01,684 --> 01:04:06,784single piece of paper, you immediatelyget a sense of the complex procedures80201:04:06,784 --> 01:04:14,914that the government was developing as akind of administrative habit. So the80301:04:14,914 --> 01:04:18,364quotation that I brought to youfrom Michael Chamberlain about how there80401:04:18,364 --> 01:04:22,204were no documents and these wereautocratic decisions, you look at the80501:04:22,204 --> 01:04:24,994documents themselves and you understandno, there was a bureaucracy, there were80601:04:24,994 --> 01:04:31,894procedures, and there were, kind of,predictable habits of documentation. It80701:04:31,894 --> 01:04:35,314wasn't just the Middle East historiansthat I had to contend with when I wanted80801:04:35,314 --> 01:04:39,424to talk about the state documents, it wasalso the Geniza historians themselves. So80901:04:39,424 --> 01:04:44,254Goitein had kind of left the state out ofhis purview. One of the things he said81001:04:44,254 --> 01:04:48,304about the Fatimids is that theyexcelled in laissez-faire. And he went on81101:04:48,304 --> 01:04:52,414to say, "out of indolence, it seems, ratherthan conviction." So I've just shown you a81201:04:52,414 --> 01:04:56,494lot of documentation that, to my mind,does not really smack of indolence. The81301:04:56,494 --> 01:04:59,314far-reaching degree of autonomy enjoyedby the Jews and, of course, the Christians81401:04:59,314 --> 01:05:02,584during their rule has a very simpleexplanation. Their Muslim subjects, too,81501:05:02,584 --> 01:05:06,124were left mostly to their own devices. Sothis was kind of the image of the state81601:05:06,124 --> 01:05:09,184in Geniza studies, because basicallynobody had actually looked at the81701:05:09,184 --> 01:05:13,414documentation that the state hadproduced. Now, Goitein thought that ––81801:05:13,414 --> 01:05:18,064hat the Fatimid state was weak,and he wasn't wrong about that.81901:05:18,064 --> 01:05:22,084The Fatimind state was weak compared tomodern states, but all pre-industrial82001:05:22,084 --> 01:05:26,254states were weak compared to modernstates. If you'd like to be disabused82101:05:26,254 --> 01:05:29,494about what states were and weren't inthe pre-modern period, this is the book82201:05:29,494 --> 01:05:32,914to read: Patricia Crone'sPre-Industrial Societies,82301:05:32,914 --> 01:05:36,544and if you don't feel like reading awhole book, just look at this chart.82401:05:36,544 --> 01:05:41,554Consider the demographics. This is globalpopulation. So the population of the82501:05:41,554 --> 01:05:44,824world in the period that I study wasroughly the population of the U.S. today,82601:05:44,824 --> 01:05:49,954possibly the US and Canada, or to put itanother way, it was equivalent to the82701:05:49,954 --> 01:05:53,434current population of Egypt and Brazilcombined, right? That's the whole planet82801:05:53,434 --> 01:05:57,424Earth. So manpower is thin on the ground,and that's going to yield a very82901:05:57,424 --> 01:06:00,814different kind of stateadministration than what we might83001:06:00,814 --> 01:06:06,274unconsciously have in our minds based on20th and 21st century states. But just83101:06:06,274 --> 01:06:09,544because states were weak doesn't meanthat they were non-existent or that they83201:06:09,544 --> 01:06:13,354didn't rely on documentation,let alone in a region that had invented,83301:06:13,354 --> 01:06:18,664pretty much simultaneously, bothstatecraft and writing. There was one83401:06:18,664 --> 01:06:22,233other reason why all of the statedocumentation had been ignored, and that83501:06:22,233 --> 01:06:26,914was that it's not very easy to read. Soin the 1906 Bodleian Catalogue of the83601:06:26,914 --> 01:06:31,414Geniza manuscripts, every time therewas a Fatimid state document, it was83701:06:31,414 --> 01:06:36,483catalogued the same way: scribbling inArabic characters. Okay, so you might say83801:06:36,483 --> 01:06:40,444well this is 1906, we know better now. Itturns out we don't know better now, the83901:06:40,444 --> 01:06:45,334Bodleian online catalogue still hasthis catalogued as illegible, when in84001:06:45,334 --> 01:06:49,233fact it's a Fatimid fiscal documentwith some pretty fancy titles from about84101:06:49,233 --> 01:06:56,7331034. The UPenn Geniza Collectioncatalogues this as scribbling84201:06:56,733 --> 01:07:00,694in Arabic characters. It's just hilariousto me how the word scribbling keeps84301:07:00,694 --> 01:07:03,634coming back. It's true that these scribesdidn't like to lift the pen, but they84401:07:03,634 --> 01:07:09,364were writing for each other, not for us.Okay, so there's a state with complex——84501:07:09,364 --> 01:07:16,473a complex system of documentation. Littledid I know when I set out to understand84601:07:16,473 --> 01:07:19,563the state documentation, the Geniza, thatthere was enough material to try to84701:07:19,563 --> 01:07:23,793reconstruct the state on its own terms,both as the Jews might have seen it and84801:07:23,793 --> 01:07:32,344as they never could have seen it. So tokind of, like, put that into a nutshell, I84901:07:32,344 --> 01:07:37,684have a colleague who finished her PhD atPrinceton three years ago who is now in85001:07:37,684 --> 01:07:45,213Vienna, who wrote on the Roman archivingsystem in Egypt based on papyri, and she——85101:07:45,213 --> 01:07:48,963the Romans were like these totallyambitious archivists, where they wanted85201:07:48,963 --> 01:07:53,463everything in triplicate, and she hasthis fantastic papyrus that she quotes85301:07:53,463 --> 01:07:57,094where the archivist comes into the Arsinoite nome in the year one-something-85401:07:57,094 --> 01:08:01,294or-other and sees this huge heap ofpapyri with like mice nibbling away at85501:08:01,294 --> 01:08:04,444it and says, "Oh my God,what am I gonna do with this? Like, I just85601:08:04,444 --> 01:08:09,303inherited a total mess," and writes to hissuperiors and says, you know, "This is the85701:08:09,303 --> 01:08:15,094current state of the archive, what wouldyou like us to do?" The Fatimid seem to85801:08:15,094 --> 01:08:18,723have taken a different approach. They didnot want everything in triplicate. They85901:08:18,723 --> 01:08:22,273wanted everything in one copy in thecentral archives in Cairo,86001:08:22,273 --> 01:08:26,953and the rest they simply jettisoned. Sothere was a constant pruning going on,86101:08:26,953 --> 01:08:31,033which any archivist will tell you isnecessary to archiving. If archives are86201:08:31,033 --> 01:08:36,074there not just to store, but also toallow you to retrieve what you're86301:08:36,074 --> 01:08:39,614looking for, they need to be organized,and to be organized, they need to be86401:08:39,614 --> 01:08:44,203pruned, and it's to the pruning that weowe this kind of inverted mirror of the86501:08:44,203 --> 01:08:50,143Fatimid archive that I have been diggingup from the Geniza. Okay, last point, so86601:08:50,143 --> 01:08:56,743how exceptional is all this? Is theGeniza simply a one-off and we'll never86701:08:56,743 --> 01:09:00,853be able to do anything like this again?It turns out that it's not. There are86801:09:00,853 --> 01:09:05,053actually other Genizas from the medievalMiddle East, even if they're not called86901:09:05,053 --> 01:09:11,464that. In Damascus, in the Umayyad Mosque,a structure in the courtyard called87001:09:11,464 --> 01:09:15,043various things, but called among otherthings the Qubbat al-Khazna, the "Dome of87101:09:15,043 --> 01:09:21,433the Treasury," preserved about 200,000fragments of texts in an array87201:09:21,433 --> 01:09:27,973of languages that are suspiciouslyparallel to what you find in the Geniza.87301:09:27,973 --> 01:09:33,284So Arabic, Syriac, Aramaic, Hebrew, as wellas Greek, Latin, Coptic, and old French87401:09:33,284 --> 01:09:37,724because after all, there was a crusadegoing on. So these are 200,00087501:09:37,724 --> 01:09:41,704medieval texts, almost all ofwhich are in Istanbul now, and hardly any87601:09:41,704 --> 01:09:47,164of which have been published. AnotherUmayyad Mosque, the Great Mosque of Sanaa,87701:09:47,174 --> 01:09:55,123Yemen preserved, kind of, immured betweenthe ceiling and the roof of the building.87801:09:55,123 --> 01:09:59,744The oldest Quran manuscripts that wehave, and they were simply sitting there,87901:09:59,744 --> 01:10:04,094and it wasn't until the building wasreconstructed in the 1970s that these88001:10:04,094 --> 01:10:10,023were discovered. So this is themanuscript called known as Sanaa one.88101:10:10,023 --> 01:10:16,873Benham Sadeghi, who was here at UCLA,worked on this because the palimpsest, so88201:10:16,873 --> 01:10:22,603the upper text is Quran and the lowertext is also Quran, and the lower text88301:10:22,603 --> 01:10:28,183dates to before 669 C.E., so it's theearliest evidence of the Quran that we88401:10:28,183 --> 01:10:34,534have in physical form.So both the Damascus and the Sanaa88501:10:34,534 --> 01:10:39,123caches raise the possibility thatMuslims accorded similar treatment to88601:10:39,123 --> 01:10:44,254warn sacred texts as Jews did, i.e., don'tdestroy it, but also protect it from88701:10:44,254 --> 01:10:48,994future destruction, so there's a kindof sacred limbo, and their current theme88801:10:48,994 --> 01:10:53,404of having this in immured, whetherit's between the ceiling and the roof or88901:10:53,404 --> 01:11:00,094between walls is a fascinating one. So asMark Cohen argued in an article about 1589001:11:00,094 --> 01:11:04,444years ago, the custom of Geniza was notexclusively a Jewish one, and I agree89101:11:04,444 --> 01:11:09,364with him that it was a kind ofregion-wide custom that wasn't89201:11:09,364 --> 01:11:15,364necessarily due to any Jewish taboo orprohibition on destroying Hebrew script.89301:11:15,364 --> 01:11:19,804I think there was a much widerprohibition on destroying text. But not89401:11:19,804 --> 01:11:25,714only that, it's a custom that actuallyreaches well beyond the Middle East. This89501:11:25,714 --> 01:11:32,313is a map of the Taklamakan desert andthe so-called silk routes, and I don't if89601:11:32,313 --> 01:11:35,103you can see from where you're sitting,but there are these tiny yellow boxes.89701:11:35,103 --> 01:11:40,504Each of those yellow boxes is a Geniza.So, like, we have our lovely Cairo Geniza,89801:11:40,504 --> 01:11:47,373they have for 40 Genizas, andthere, too, the practices are suspiciously89901:11:47,373 --> 01:11:54,304parallel. So here at the eastern end ofthe silk routes in Dunhuang, there's a90001:11:54,304 --> 01:11:58,024story that, just like the story of theGeniza, begins around 1900, when a90101:11:58,024 --> 01:12:03,454Daoist monk named Wang Yuan Liu fledviolence in his home region, and came to90201:12:03,454 --> 01:12:09,813the isolated town of Dunhuang, and I justwant to give a shout out to my colleague90301:12:09,813 --> 01:12:13,954Shen Wen, who— this is a story that's beentold many times in Chinese and not many90401:12:13,954 --> 01:12:18,484times in English, and Shen Wen tells itparticularly well in his—— in his book in90501:12:18,484 --> 01:12:22,594progress, so I'm indebted to him for someof this information. So Wang appointed90601:12:22,594 --> 01:12:26,194himself the caretaker of a series ofcaves known as the "Grottoes of90701:12:26,194 --> 01:12:32,643Unparalleled Height," Mogao ku, which hasBuddhist statues and murals dating from90801:12:32,643 --> 01:12:36,304the 4th to the 14th century, so exactly aparallel time period to what we're90901:12:36,304 --> 01:12:42,304talking about. So one night in 900—— in1900, sorry, the story goes, this Daoist91001:12:42,304 --> 01:12:45,754monk saw a flickering of light in one ofthe cave walls, so he started just kind91101:12:45,754 --> 01:12:48,364of digging at it, and eventuallyhe tunneled through, and91201:12:48,364 --> 01:12:53,344what he found was a small hidden chamber,about three meters by five meters, that had91301:12:53,344 --> 01:12:58,174been sealed in the early 11th centuryand lay undisturbed for nearly 900 years.91401:12:58,174 --> 01:13:03,274It contains 60,000 manuscripts, most ofthem were Buddhist texts, plus around91501:13:03,274 --> 01:13:08,8443000 documentary sources, about 5% of thetotal. The languages that he found there—91601:13:08,844 --> 01:13:12,484there was a staggering array oflanguages, some of which have not yet91701:13:12,484 --> 01:13:18,484been deciphered, Indo-European languagesgalore, Turkic, Mongolian, and Sino-Tibetan91801:13:18,484 --> 01:13:24,274languages, as well as some Syriac andHebrew. What ensues should sound familiar91901:13:24,274 --> 01:13:27,214to those of us who know about the Geniza.Manuscript hunters made piecemeal92001:13:27,214 --> 01:13:30,904acquisitions, eventually the collectionwas dispersed. It's now housed at the92101:13:30,904 --> 01:13:34,564British Library, the BibliothèqueNationale in Paris, and the National92201:13:34,564 --> 01:13:38,034Library of China in Beijing, with smallercollections in Saint Petersburg, Osaka,92301:13:38,034 --> 01:13:44,244Taipei, and Princeton. So this is a kindof sacred limbo that's remarkably92401:13:44,244 --> 01:13:49,654parallel to the other caches that Ishowed you. Not only that, you have92501:13:49,654 --> 01:13:54,364evidence for the reuse of statedocuments for religious text. So this is92601:13:54,364 --> 01:13:58,204a decree from the ruler of Dunhuang,giving permission for the ten-year-old92701:13:58,204 --> 01:14:01,684daughter of an official to enter amonastery. The date seems to be in the92801:14:01,684 --> 01:14:07,444early 10th century, and you can see theimprints from the ruler's seal in red92901:14:07,444 --> 01:14:12,064there, and the back contains a Buddhisttext, a dharani, which is like the essence of93001:14:12,064 --> 01:14:16,114a Sutra that's generally used formeditative or prayer purposes. Likewise,93101:14:16,114 --> 01:14:19,294the state documents that I saw, almostall of them are reused for Jewish93201:14:19,294 --> 01:14:25,534liturgical texts. Okay, so what does it allmean? What can this wider array of93301:14:25,534 --> 01:14:30,124sacrosanct waste bins, a phrase I've stolenfrom Amitav Ghosh, tell us that we93401:14:30,124 --> 01:14:33,364didn't know before?First of all, written objects and93501:14:33,364 --> 01:14:37,354cultures of the handmaid. Was it thesanctity of the texts that led to their93601:14:37,354 --> 01:14:41,734preservation and limbo, or a moregeneralized, pre-modern reluctance to93701:14:41,734 --> 01:14:47,044discard anything? Why are we surprised inthe face of medieval people's habitual93801:14:47,044 --> 01:14:51,544repurposing, so that we feel that we haveto explain it as an act of piety? This was93901:14:51,544 --> 01:14:55,144a culture of the handmaid, in whicheverything was reused, in which things94001:14:55,144 --> 01:14:59,584fashioned by human hands, including texts,were never casually destroyed, but94101:14:59,584 --> 01:15:04,294from hand to hand and from use to use. Anaverage person owned very few garments94201:15:04,294 --> 01:15:08,644over a lifetime, and when the cloth couldno longer be repaired, it was transformed94301:15:08,644 --> 01:15:12,544into paper. And when that waswritten on—— when what was written on the94401:15:12,544 --> 01:15:15,754paper no longer mattered, you wrotesomething else on it. And when you could no94501:15:15,754 --> 01:15:20,434longer write anything else on, it wentinto the limbo of a Geniza. So what94601:15:20,434 --> 01:15:24,034happens when we consider Asia as acontinent not of static disconnected and94701:15:24,034 --> 01:15:28,114mostly defunct civilizations, but ofmedieval documents, travelers, and traders,94801:15:28,114 --> 01:15:33,874of the circulation of written artifacts?Their survival at the seams between the94901:15:33,874 --> 01:15:37,924desert and the sown, and of the view thatthose documents can give us of95001:15:37,924 --> 01:15:41,704extraordinary human mobility in pursuitof knowledge, of stable employment, a95101:15:41,704 --> 01:15:46,414profit, and of prestige. Of the capacityof human beings to solve logistical95201:15:46,414 --> 01:15:49,984problems before the Industrial Age, weshould take all these lessons seriously,95301:15:49,984 --> 01:15:53,164because if there's one thing the CairoGeniza has taught us, it's that medieval95401:15:53,164 --> 01:15:56,974Jews were not so very different from theMuslims, Christians, Zoroastrians,95501:15:56,974 --> 01:16:01,654Buddhists, and Hindus, among whom theylived and worked. A Jewish householder95601:16:01,654 --> 01:16:04,684from Jerusalem thought nothing oftravelling to Baghdad to study with a95701:16:04,684 --> 01:16:09,334revered scholar. A trader from Tripoli inLibya undertook journeys to Aden despite95801:16:09,334 --> 01:16:14,074the terror of nailless boats. A Hebrewpoet from Cordoba received commissions95901:16:14,074 --> 01:16:18,244from patrons in Cairo and Caida Wan, anda Jew's disappearance in Sumatra or96001:16:18,244 --> 01:16:22,894Malaysia, and his wife's need for clarityoccasioned the testimony of traders in96101:16:22,894 --> 01:16:27,184Aden and the writing of rabbinicresponsa in Cairo. It's not so different96201:16:27,184 --> 01:16:30,844from the world we see in the Tarim Basinfinds, but they haven't yet been96301:16:30,844 --> 01:16:35,864connected with the Geniza finds mostlybecause the linguistic complexities——96401:16:35,864 --> 01:16:40,524the linguistic complexities of the medievalimperial world, which make outsized96501:16:40,534 --> 01:16:46,254demands on our modern, nationalist brains,impoverished by a lack of polyglotism.96601:16:46,254 --> 01:16:50,614Connecting these disparate worlds canshed light not just on Jewish history,96701:16:50,614 --> 01:16:56,074but on global history more broadly— it'sjust a question of digging through the96801:16:56,074 --> 01:16:59,394documents. Thank you.