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Afghan Documents and Ancient Jewish Life There

A find to rival the Cairo Genizah, maybe the Dead Sea Scrolls?

The Afghan collection gives an unprecedented look into the lives of Jews in ancient Persia in the 11th century. The paper manuscripts, preserved over the centuries by the dry, shady conditions of the caves, include writings in Hebrew, Aramaic, Judea-Arabic and the unique Judeo-Persian language from that era, which was written in Hebrew letters.

“It was the Yiddish of Persian Jews,” said Haggai Ben-Shammai, the library’s academic director.

Holding the documents, protected by a laminated sheath, Ben-Shammai said they included mentions of distinctly Jewish names and evidence of their commercial activities along the “Silk road” connecting Europe and the East. The obscure Judeo-Persian language, along with carbon dating technology, helped verify the authenticity of the collection, he said.

I know we don’t go to war to save ancient documents, but given the Taliban’s general inclination to blow up things non-Islamic, can there be any doubt that had they found them, they would have burned these?

Posted in Culture, History.

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