Artefacts of Ancient Judaism

About the Project

This project is directed by Dr James Aitken (Faculty of Divinity) and Dr Ben Outhwaite (The Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit) of the University of Cambridge. It is sponsored by the Subject Centre for Philosophical and Religious Studies, part of the Higher Education Academy. The design and development of the website has been undertaken by CARET.


The material on this website has been written by James, Aitken, Ben Outhwaite, Melonie Schmierer, Max Kamer, and Kim Phillips.


The project aims to address the unease of some students in Theology and Religious Studies with studying material artefacts, whether archaeological, numismatic or papyrological, rather than literature and historical narratives. It also aims to utilize the vast material now being digitized in libraries and museums that is rarely presented in anything more than a searchable database or with low-level introductions.

Pathways are provided through the material, offering reflective questions for the user, and opportunities for further self-guided research (links to similar material, to electronic resources and to reading, both online and print). The site allows for self-directed learning and research, through a structured tour of the artefacts and opportunities for students to examine issues further or to see related artefacts.

The project should establish a model of cooperation between libraries or museums and scholars, and demonstrate how a higher-level educational site can be built than is usually intended by the public outreach of such institutions.


  • Dr. James Aitken profile picture Dr James Aitken

    James is Lecturer in Hebrew, Old Testament and Second Temple Studies, Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge. He completed his PhD on the Wisdom of Ben Sira and has subsequently researched topics including Biblical Hebrew and Hellenistic Judaism.

  • Dr Ben Outhwaite profile picture Dr Ben Outhwaite

    Ben is Head of the Genizah Research Unit in the University Library. He previously worked in the Unit after completing his PhD thesis on the grammatical description of Hebrew letters in the Genizah.

  • Melonie Schmierer

    Melonie is a Research Assistant at the Genizah Research Unit, preparing descriptions of Hebrew and Aramaic Genizah manuscripts. Her PhD, which is in progress under the supervision of Prof. Geoffrey Khan, is a diachronic study of Eastern Aramaic.