Mystery swirls around Judaic manuscripts discovered in Afghanistan

25 Jan 2012 7:46 AM | Anonymous

Mystery swirls around Judaic manuscripts discovered in Afghanistan
By Ben Harris · January 24, 2012

NEW YORK (JTA) -- It was said to be a finding of groundbreaking scholarly and historic significance, comparable in importance to the 19th-century discovery of the Cairo Geniza and rivaling the Dead Sea Scrolls for sheer drama.

That, at any rate, was the buzz in scholarly circles when reports began surfacing last month that an exceptionally rare collection of ancient Judaic manuscripts -- some of them dating back more than a millennia -- were discovered in a cave in Samangan province in northeastern Afghanistan.

The manuscripts are of several varieties, both religious and secular, and are drafted in a number of languages, including Judeo-Persian and Judeo-Arabic. Among the documents recovered are fragments of the writings of the Saadia Gaon, a famed Jewish sage born in Egypt in the ninth century, and financial records that may shed light on the little-known medieval Jewish merchant class known as the Raddanites.

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