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Voices of Jerusalem: A Scholar in Search of the City's Hidden Archives

Dr. Merav Mack is an authority on the libraries and archives of Jerusalem.

Produced in association with Jerusalem 1000–1400: Every People Under Heaven, on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from September 26, 2016, through January 8, 2017.

Dr. Merav Mack: I'm currently doing a big project on the history of the libraries and archives of Jerusalem. There are so many small churches and monasteries and Sufi lodges and Muslim families that had kept their place in the city, kept their archives, manuscripts all the way through from the Middle Ages until today. That sort of idea of people preserving the memory of others is one of the things that I'm particularly interested in. The oldest material that we have has survived here in the desert. This monastery has been occupied and functioning ever since the fifth century continuously.

The impact of what was going on in this part of the world and in the libraries of Jerusalem, this great project of translating texts, whether it was to Latin, making it more accessible to the Christian world, or whether it was to Arabic. The beauty of translation is that quite often it preserves layers of meaning in a text, which was much older, so it's the protecting side of Jerusalem.

I think there was much more interaction than we appreciate today. Instead of focusing on the history of Jerusalem as a sequence of wars, it would be more about the exchange—cultural exchange—the debate. It's fine not to agree but they were talking to each other, and it would be a shame to miss that.

Cross a street, and you are in a place where you meet a different language, you meet different cultures. It's one of those places that make you feel quite humble.

Producer and Director: Christopher Noey
Director of Photography: Alex Rappoport
Producer: Kate Farrell
Editor: Stephanie Wuertz
Production Coordinator: Ruthy Lustig-Dassa, A2 Productions Ltd.
Gaffer: Ya'ir Dahan
Sound Recording: Itamar Goldman
Sound Editing: David Raymond
Production Assistants: Kaelan Burkett, Munir Ibrahim, Imad Khuri, Lisa Rifkind
Transcription: Denise Rohlfs
Scholarly Advisors: Barbara Drake Boehm, Melanie Holcomb

Images and photographs courtesy of:
British Library, London
Bibliothéque Nationale de France, Paris
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Morgan Library and Museum, New York

Special thanks to:
Aish HaTorah World Center, Jerusalem
Al-Aqsa Mosque, Awqaf Administration
Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem
Chapel of the Flagellation and Studium Biblicum Franciscanum
Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem
Custodia Terrae Sanctae
East Jerusalem Development Ltd.
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem
Hashimi Hotel
The Holy Lavra of Saint Sabbas the Sanctified
Indian Hospice
The Jerusalem Archaeological Park - Davidson Center
Monastery of the Cross, Jerusalem
Monastery of St. Saviour, Jerusalem
Dr. Yusuf Said Natsheh

© 2016 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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