No Byzantine Jewish archives have been preserved, and only in the materials recovered from the Cairo Genizah do we have much in the way of personal or family documents, such as deeds of marriage or divorce, wills or genealogies. Genizah documents began to be published in the 1890s, and some were included in Jacob Mann’s Texts and Studies in Jewish History and Literature. Some documents specifically referring to Byzantium were listed in Starr’s Jews in the Byzantine Empire; others have been identified and published more recently. Genizah documents, included some relating to Byzantium, form the basis for the magisterial work by S. D. Goitein, A Mediterranean Society. All relevant information from the Genizah will be incorporated in the project.

A good deal of information about individuals and about social and economic history can also be gleaned from other Jewish legal documents, such as responsa and local bye-laws (takkanot). A particularly valuable resource is the takkanot of Candia, a collection of local laws governing the capital of Venetian Crete.

Greek Christian documents such as monastic records and law books are a rich source of detailed information about the Jewish presence in the empire.

An extraordinarily rich source for Jewish life in Crete is the Venetian State Archive (Archivio di Stato di Venezia). Jewish life was mainly concentrated in the capital city of Candia (modern Heraklion), with its four synagogues, but there were communities also in Rethymno and Canea (Hania) and in various scattered settlements around the island.


Marriage settlement (ketubbah), Mastaura (Lydia), dated 9 March 1022 (Cambridge University Library, T-S 16.374).

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