The doodles on this little scrap of paper were drawn by a bored school-child around 900 years ago. The letters were practice writing the Hebrew alphabet but this clearly wasn’t interesting enough to keep their attention so they started to draw instead. The scrap survived in a huge storehouse of similar fragments called a Genizah, and was discovered at the end of the nineteenth century, nearly 1000 years after it was written. To find out more about the Genizah and what it tells us about life the Jewish community in Egypt a thousand years ago, click ‘Extended captions’.
Egypt, 11/12th century
For a thousand years the Jewish community of Old Cairo put their worn-out writings into a synagogue storage room, a genizah. Explore one of the greatest collections of Cambridge University Library and a remarkable survival of the medieval past. The major online exhibition Discarded History: The Genizah of Medieval Cairo provides a window on the life of a community a thousand years ago – a Jewish community in the centre of a thriving Islamic empire, international in outlook, multicultural in make up, devout to its core. To see this exhibition click on the link: