Palimpsests from the Qubbat al-Khazna

KRC Research Seminars
KRC Lecture Room, Thursdays, 17:15-18:30 hrs
Convenor: Umberto Bongianino

The major sites where palimpsests have been found in the Near East form a neat triangle: Cairo, St. Catherine’s in Sinai, and Damascus. The historical discovery of all three finding spots was achieved by members of a closely connected network of scholars, for the most part driven by the hope of discovering old, forgotten, biblical texts. In terms of their communities of origin, these palimpsests represent the three major religions of the region: Jews, Christians and Muslims. Not only did all three communities produce books using washed and re-used parchment, but the upper texts and under-texts in their various combinations form the layers of an intellectual texture that, in the words of Hava Lazarus-Yafeh, can itself be described as a “palimpsest, layer upon layer, tradition upon tradition, intertwined to the extent that one cannot really grasp one without the other, certainly not the later without the earlier, but often also not the earlier without considering the shapes it took later.”
In focusing on one of these sites, the palimpsests from the Qubbat al-Khazna, Damascus, my presentation will provide in my survey an initial step toward outlining comparatively the practice of palimpsesting in the Near East.