Cambridge University Library

Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit.

The Taylor-Schechter Genizah Collection is a window on the medieval world and has been colourfully described as ‘a refuge for writings’ and ‘a battlefield of books’. Its 193,000 manuscript fragments, mainly in Hebrew, Judaeo-Arabic, Aramaic and Arabic, are an unparalleled resource for the academic study of Judaism, Jewish history and the wider economic and social history of the Mediterranean and Near East in the Middle Ages and Early Modern period. They shed light on the mundane as well as the religious and cultural activities of that world, since the Collection preserves a huge number of personal letters, legal deeds and other documents, alongside literary and sacred texts. The manuscripts were recovered from the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Fustat, Old Cairo, in 1896–7 by the enterprising Cambridge scholar Solomon Schechter with help from his colleague Charles Taylor. In the 1970s Cambridge University Library established the Genizah Research Unit to carry out a comprehensive program of conservation, cataloguing and research on the manuscripts, which is leading to all manner of important discoveries about Jewish religious, communal and personal life, Hebrew and Arabic literary traditions, and relations between Muslims, Jews and Christians from as early as the ninth and tenth centuries CE. The Genizah Research Unit relies upon external support for its projects.

Thinking of visiting the Collection? Please see our Frequently Asked Questions page first.

Have you found our website or databases useful? Would you like to make a donation to further Genizah research and the production of online Genizah resources at Cambridge? You can now give securely online via the Cambridge University Development Office. Please follow this link.


Life in Fragments: Stories from the Cairo Genizah, a 5-episode series for BBC Radio 3's 'The Essay' is going to be re-broadcast on BBC Radio3.
Produced by Nightjar, the show features five researchers from the Unit offering a personal take on life in Medieval Cairo. The Essay is on Monday to Friday next week (9-13 June) at 10.45pm (UK time) on BBC Radio 3, and the shows will be available in the Audio and video section of this website.


May 2014's Fragment of the Month by Esther-Miriam Wagner is now online:

'Go to the house of the English': 19th century Genizah merchants



Genizah Research Unit

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