Arabic Poetry in the Cairo Genizah

Welcome to the homepage of the Arabic Poetry in the Cairo Genizah research project! APCG is an European Research Council funded project lead by Dr. Mohamed Ahmed


Poetry enjoys a special place in Arabic culture and literature. For centuries, Arabs of all faiths have considered poetry a key source for knowledge, intellectuality and wisdom. In the pre-Islamic era, poetry was considered as ‘the Arab knowledge’ and ‘the Arab cultural archive’, in which the social and cultural history, language, arts, music, religious and Arab’s human experience were stored and preserved. Being a part of Arabic culture, Jews of Arab lands equally enjoyed writing and reading poetry. APCG will investigate for the first time a hitherto neglected collection of Arabic poetry fragments written in Hebrew script (in Judaeo-Arabic), which has been preserved in arguably the most important Jewish treasure trove: the Cairo Genizah. The fragments, numbered in the hundreds, constitute a unique source for understanding medieval and Early Modern Egypt from three main perspectives: Arabic studies, Jewish social and cultural studies, and anthropological studies.

Our Research Objectives

The core aims of the project are:
• to make the entirety of Arabic and Judaeo-Arabic poetry in the Cairo Genizah accessible to both academic scholars and to the public in a comprehensive database and in critical editions;
• to reveal, through the study of poetry, hitherto hidden aspects of social and cultural history of the Jews in the Middle East with regard to literacy, education and intercommunal relations;
• to explore hierarchies, interpersonal relationships and the social function of poetry in medieval and early modern Egypt through the study of Genizah poetry.

To achieve the planned main objectives, APCG carries out a thorough interdisciplinary study of Genizah’s Arabic poetry. This approach involves research from philological, linguistic, literary, historical and anthropological perspectives.

Please visit our website for more information on the project, and to explore our Arabic Poetry Index.

If you would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact us!

Dr. Mohamed Ahmed:
Ray Davidson: