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Hebrew Printing and Printers’ Colophons in the Cairo Genizah: Networking Book Trade in Europe and the Ottoman Empire

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Posegay, Nicholas 


The Cairo Genizah is famous as a source of manuscripts for the study of the medieval Mediterranean world, especially Jewish communities during the High Middle Ages. However, among the hundreds of thou- sands of Middle Eastern manuscript fragments in Genizah collections are more than 12,000 moveable-type printed items, most of which come from Europe. They are the remnants of a significant trade in Hebrew- script books that crossed the Mediterranean in the centuries following Gutenberg’s printing press. This corpus is severely understudied, with few previous surveys of printed Genizah material and no systematic cataloguing data currently available to organise it. This article takes several steps to rectify this situation by examining 57 printers’ colo- phons in Genizah collections. The resulting analysis allows a prelimi- nary reconstruction of the European and Ottoman networks through which Cairene Jews obtained Hebrew books between 1500 and 1900. This paper also serves as an introduction to Hebrew printing for Cairo Genizah scholars and an introduction to the Cairo Genizah for special- ists in Hebrew printing.



Journal Title

Literary Snippets: Colophons Across Space and Time

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Volume Title


Gorgias Press

Publisher DOI

Leverhulme Trust (ECF-2021-080)