The discovery and relocation of genizah material is a multi-layered and complex story. This article re-examines, to the extent possible given the current available evidence, the discovery and distribution of Cairo genizah manuscripts in the late nineteenth century by taking a closer look at known historical accounts in conjunction with some lesser-known contemporary reports. Much provenance and provenience history was lost or destroyed during the course of multiple relocations and reorganizations of these materials; thus, this article emphasizes the need to pay greater attention to the multifaceted history of the Cairo manuscripts, and the need to be more circumspect when using an "across-the-board" term like "the Cairo Genizah." Such a label can prevent us from truly appreciating the breadth of Jewish material culture in Cairo in all its varied manifestations over time. More detailed provenance history for the genizah manuscripts will increase our knowledge about how culture is transmitted and how attitudes towards the preservation of Jewish cultural heritage have evolved.


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pp. 422-448
Launched on MUSE
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