Synagogues and Cemeteries: Evidence for a Jewish Presence in the Fayum

Abstract

Current excavations in the Fag el-Gamous necropolis have raised several questions about the ethnic composition of the mummies buried there. Of particular significance is the potential Jewish presence in the cemetery, as this could help explain the early changes in burial practices witnessed at Fag el-Gamous and often posited to be related to the Christianization of the area. However, evidence of a Jewish presence in the Fayum is difficult to pinpoint conclusively due to the integration of Jewish customs with surrounding cultures. Despite this, a sizeable Jewish population within the Fayum can be demonstrated by extrapolating from known societal integration patterns of the period and also by correlating onomastic evidence and recorded ethnicities in day to day proceedings with the mummies buried at Fag el-Gamous. This conclusion will need to be substantiated once other analyses of the Fag el-Gamous mummies become available.

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Muhlestein, K. & Innes, C., (2012) “Synagogues and Cemeteries: Evidence for a Jewish Presence in the Fayum”, Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections 4(2), p.53-59. doi: https://doi.org/10.2458/azu_jaei_v04i2_innes

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Kerry Muhlestein (Brigham Young University)
Courtney Innes (University of Cambridge)

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