A vast digitised database of Turkish Jewish cemeteries has launched online and been made available to the public after a monumental mapping exercise by Israeli researchers at Tel Aviv University.
A World Beyond: Jewish Cemeteries in Turkey 1583-1990 details 61,022 Jewish tombstones from across Turkey and covers the period from 1583 to 1990. It is now the world’s largest such database, representing the culmination of decades of work by oriental scholars, some of whom died before its completion.
It is based primarily on two years’ worth of fieldwork by Professor Minna Rozen, from 1988 to 1990, which until now has not been publicly available.
Researchers at the university’s Goldstein Goren Diaspora Research Center said their primary goals were “to preserve the remnants of the gradually-disappearing Jewish life in Turkey, aid scholars to paint a richer picture of the past and help people search for their roots”. “This is unique in the academic world, both for its size and for the research opportunities it opens up,” they added.
The database offers a sophisticated research platform with a range of search options, including the epigraphical content of the gravestones, and the materials used.