Dr Irving Finkel is Assistant Keeper of Ancient Mesopotamian (i.e. Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian) script, languages and cultures Department: Middle East at the British Museum, headquartered in London’s Bloomsbury. He is the curator in charge of cuneiform inscriptions on tablets of clay from ancient Mesopotamia, of which the Middle East Department has the largest collection – some 130,000 pieces – of any modern museum. This work involves reading and translating all sorts of inscriptions, sometimes working on ancient archives to identify manuscripts that belong together, or even join to one another.
Dr Irving Finkel, curator of the remarkable exhibition, Babylon: Myth and Reality, at the British Museum, took us back to the times of Jewish exile and looked at the long lasting influence of this outstanding civilisation on Jewish culture.
A man walked into the British Museum one day in 2008 and handed Irving Finkel a palm-sized piece of clay carrying instructions for building the ark. Dating from 1850 BC, the cuneiform tablet is a copy of the Babylonian Story of the Flood. Finkel, a world expert on ancient Mesopotamia and a profound and entertaining speaker, returns to Jewish Book Week to reveal his decoding of the little rectangle, with unanticipated revelations about the story origins.
In this exquisite volume Professor Mohammad Gharipour charts the development of synagogues in lands under Muslim rule, from North Africa and Spain to Central Asia and the Middle East. He shines a spotlight on the extraordinary architectural and artistic collaboration between Muslims and Jews in creating spaces for Jewish worship.