Persian Documents from Pre-Mongol Bamiyan

Arts lecture room 8
Wednesday 29 November 2017 (17:00-19:00)

Arezou Azad (

persian documents from pre-mongol bamiyan- copyright Andy Miller
Image © Andy Miller

'A few weeks before Rosh Hashanah sometime in the 11th century, a distraught, young Jewish Afghani young man named Yair sent a painful letter to his brother-in-law, Abu-al-Hasan Siman Tov.

'Life had dealt Yair a tough hand, or maybe it was just his own bad choices. Having failed in business in his hometown of Bamiyan, rumours were now spreading that he had “broken promises . . . regarding property” and that he did not truly “observe the Sabbath.” Leaving these problems behind him, he had left his young wife to move some 150 miles to Ghazni and begin anew…' 

On 29th November the Birmingham Research Institute of History and Cultures and the School of Philosophy Theology and Religion are delighted to welcome Hebrew University’s Ofir Haim to campus. 

Ofir will be presenting aspects of his current doctoral research into Muslim-Jewish relations in the Middle East in the medieval period. Thanks to the recent acquisition by the Library of Israel-of a possibly unique-collection of family papers, Ofir is working to reconstruct a sense of what life was like for a prosperous Jewish family in 11th Century Persia.

It has long been known that there were Jewish communities in this area, often referred to as Khorasan, but almost nothing has been known about them. Their existence is attested to by only the flimsiest of evidence—passing references to Jews in works or letters by both Jews or Gentiles from other places, medieval Jewish names that reflect family origins in that part of the world, and even a few gravestones. But that’s it. As one reads through these richly detailed papers, a largely unknown world slowly comes to light.

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