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New findings relating to hebrew epigraphic sources from the Crimea, with an appendix on the readings in king Joseph's letter

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines a number of problems relating to Hebrew inscriptions from the Crimean peninsula. The greatest collections of them are found in two Jewish-Karaite cemeteries: Josaphat valley outside the "cave-town" of Chufut-Qalʿeh and Tabana-Dere outside the "cave-town" of Mangup. The chapter focuses on the problems related to the Chufut-Qalʿeh cemetery. The history of research in those cemeteries is closely connected to the Karaite collector and archaeologist Abraham Firkowicz and with the polemics around his discoveries, which arose in the second half of 19 century. But it is important to point out that many defenders of Firkowicz's findings viewed them as sources on the early medieval history of the Northern coast of the Black Sea, including Khazar history. Besides, for many Karaite authors Firkowicz's work became one of the starting points of the so-called "Khazar theory" of the origins of East-European Karaites, although Firkowicz himself had never made such claims.

Keywords: Abraham Firkowicz; Chufut-Qalʿeh cemetery; Crimea; Hebrew inscriptions; Jewish-Karaite cemeteries; Khazar history; King Joseph's letter



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