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  1. Jan 2023
    1. Transcriptions taken from Goitein’s publications were corrected according to handwrittennotes on his private offprints. The nature of Goitein’s “typed texts” is as follows. Goitein tran-scribed Geniza documents by hand from the originals or from photostats. These handwrittentranscriptions were later typed by an assistant and usually corrected by Goitein. When Goiteindied in 1985, the transcriptions were photocopied in Princeton before the originals were sentto the National Library of Israel, where they can be consulted today. During the followingdecades, the contents of most of these photocopies were entered into a computer, and period-ically the files had to be converted to newer digital formats. The outcome of these repeatedprocesses of copying and conversion is that transcription errors and format glitches are to beexpected. As the Princeton Geniza Project website states: “Goitein considered his typed texts‘drafts’ and always restudied the manuscripts and made revisions to his transcriptions beforepublishing them.” See also Goitein, “Involvement in Geniza Research,” 143. It is important tokeep in mind that only the transcriptions that were typed were uploaded to the project website.Therefore, e.g., Goitein’s transcriptions of documents in Arabic scripts are usually not foundthere. The National Library of Israel and the Princeton Geniza Lab also hold many of Goitein’sdraft English translations of Geniza documents, many of which were intended for his plannedanthology of Geniza texts in translation, Mediterranean People.

      Much like earlier scribal errors, there are textual errors inserted into digitization projects which may have gone from documentary originals, into handwritten (translated) copies, which then were copied manually via typewriter, and then copied again into some digital form, and then changed again into other digital forms as digital formats changed.

      As a result it is often fruitful to be able to compare the various versions to see the sorts of errors which each level of copying can introduce. One might suppose that textual errors were only common when done by scribes using manual techniques, but it is just as likely for errors to be inserted between digital copies as well.