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Melonie Schmierer-Lee examines ancient deeds of marriage, divorce and pre-nuptial agreements to reveal the varying fortunes of women in medieval Cairo.

Melonie Schmierer-Lee of the Genizah Research Unit reveals the fortunes of women in medieval Cairo by looking at marriage and divorce deeds, as well as some incredibly detailed pre-nuptial agreements.

The Cairo Genizah is a treasure trove of manuscripts from the Ben Ezra synagogue in Old Cairo that portrays over 800 years of community life. Rediscovered in the 19th century, this vast communal paper-bin contained hundreds upon thousands of scraps of rag-paper and parchment - an unedited archive of prayers, letters, poems, magical spells, alchemical recipes, children's exercise books, divorce deeds and pre-nuptial agreements that paints a lively and intimate picture of daily medieval life in Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Produced by Michele Banal and Miranda Hinkley

First broadcast in May 2013.

15 minutes

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