The Cairo Genizah is a staggering amount of fragments of documents (some 250,000 in total), quires and books found in a locked synagogue room toward the end of the 19th century in Egypt. Most of the documents, ranging in date of production from the 9th to the 16th century, were taken from Egypt to England by Professor Schechter of Cambridge, and are still kept there today. The remainder was eventually dispersed throughout the world… The fragments range in topic from Rabbinical to liturgical, biblical and Talmudic works, on a variety of subjects, and are in a generally deteriorated state, due to the conditions in which they were stored….
So far, the team has managed to scan some 85,000 pictures, and have now begun scanning the largest repository of fragments, found in Cambridge, at a rate of 10,000 per month.
The second stage of the project is perhaps even more ambitious. The Friedberg Genizah team intends to add a second layer of information to the existing scans. This layer will include, when complete, an identification, transcription and translation of the fragment. Since there are so many of these fragments, there arose a need for an identification system, in order to catalog the pieces by their various attributes, but also as part of an attempt to match separate pieces which once belonged to a single, original manuscript… The second layer also contains a collection of all the research literature ever published on the subject of the Cairo Genizah, as well as software designed to navigate through it.
Things like this help me remember that the twenty-first century has its good points. Thanks for the links, Jonathan!