Chronicles and Itineraries

The chance survival of a family chronicle compiled in the mid-eleventh century by Ahimaas of Oria (in southern Italy), and extending back some two hundred years, has shed considerable light on Jewish life in Byzantine south Italy, but such texts are very rare.

A substantial number of Byzantine chronicles exists written in Greek by Christians: Jews figure prominently in these texts.

One Hebrew source that has been systematically exploited is the twelfth-century travelogue of Benjamin of Tudela, which lists the names of the leaders of each Jewish community visited and gives its size, sometimes adding some further information. A translation of the section on Byzantium is given by Starr, Sharf and Bowman. This text is of immense value in mapping the Jewish communities of the Byzantine empire.


The front cover of the second edition of the Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela, Ferrara 1556.

  • Mapping the Jewish communities of the Byzantine Empire
  • is funded by:
  • ERC
  • and hosted by:
  • University of Cambridge