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On an Armenian Word List from the Cairo Geniza

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image of Iran and the Caucasus

This study deals with a short text on a small piece of paper, a conversational glossary, found in the Cairo Geniza. It is likely to be nearly a millennium old, and consists of a list of twenty Judaeo-Arabic words and phrases with their equivalents in Armenian written in Hebrew script. It suggests that members of the two communities met in a convivial setting, possibly a Barekendan (Mardi Gras) party where an official was parodied as a goat in effigy— a custom encountered in other Armenian celebrations of the holiday at Lvov in the 16th century; and Tiflis, in the 19th. The other words in the list reflect economic and cultural realia of the 11th-13th centuries.

Affiliations: 1: Harvard University


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