Israeli library unveils ancient Afghan manuscripts

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Associated Press

Posted on January 3, 2013 at 6:01 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 3 at 6:04 PM

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's National Library is unveiling a trove of Hebrew manuscripts giving the first physical evidence of an ancient Jewish community in Afghanistan.

Library officials said Thursday the documents came from caves in an area of northern Afghanistan that is now a Taliban stronghold.

The documents, some 1,000 years old, survived because Jews do not throw out papers that include the name of God, and the dry conditions in the caves where they were stored preserved them.

Researchers say the "Afghan Genizah" marks the greatest such archive found since the "Cairo Genizah" was discovered in an Egyptian synagogue more than 100 years ago, a vast depository of medieval manuscripts considered to be among the most valuable collections of historical documents ever found.

"Genizah" is the Hebrew word for storage for documents.

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