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Research Projects

The project is currently in progress at the Jagiellonian University with Michał Marciak as the principal investigator. The project is financed by a grant from the National Science Centre in Poland (grant no. UMO-2020/38/E/HS3/00031).

The aim of this project is to conduct interdisciplinary research on travel and mobility in Hellenistic and early Roman Palestine (332 BCE – 70 CE). The project will examine not only practicalities of travel and mobility in the context of Greco-Roman civilization, but also their significance for ancient culture in Hellenistic and early Roman Palestine, including social, economic, cultural, and religious developments. In practical terms, the main research questions to be posed are: What were the main highways of travel in Hellenistic and early Roman Palestine? Who traveled where and how, and for what purpose? What was the human experience of travel? What information and material goods were exchanged as a result of mobility, and how did this exchange matter for the social, economic, cultural, and religious life of ancient Judeans and their interaction with neighbors?

To achieve the project’s aims, three distinctive methodologies will be employed to study travel and mobility: a philological-historical analysis relevant to ancient history, use of remote sensing (RS) and geographic information systems (GIS), and archeological survey. Within these methodologies, several specific research objectives will be pursued in an attempt to answer the research questions. First, a philological-historical evaluation of all written sources on travel and mobility (literary, paleographical, and epigraphic) will be conducted with regard to their information on itineraries or any other practicalities of travel and mobility (e.g., modes of travel, nature of roads, social, economic, cultural, and religious aspects of mobility). Second, RS and GIS operations will be conducted with the aim of discovering actual or suggesting potential routes between the main centers of the kingdom of Herod the Great (using a multisource approach: archival cartographic sources, archival aerial imagery, archival satellite imagery, modern aerial imagery, modern open-access satellite imagery, very high resolution and multispectral satellite images, GIS simulations [esp. least cost paths], and archeological data). Third, fieldwork will be conducted to verify the features suggested on the basis of remote sensing studies and to record topographical and archeological features with GPS. Fourth, a GIS database of routes and travel-related infrastructure will be created. Fifth, modern socioeconomic theories and spatial methods will be applied to the aforementioned database to explore the integration and hierarchy of the network of roads and related sites and to examine the spatial patterns of this network. As a result, it is hoped that the project will facilitate a better understanding of the material conditions of travel and mobility as well as their role in shaping social, economic, cultural, and religious aspects of daily life in Hellenistic and early Roman Palestine.

As for the philological-historical evaluation of all the written sources (research objective no. 1), the following most important groups of sources will be examined: (1A) the Septuagint (LXX); (1B) LXX (deuterocanonical) Biblical books; (1C) the Pseudepigrapha; (1D) Philo; (1E) Josephus’ Antiquitates, Books I-XI; (1F) Josephus’ Antiquitates, Books XII-XX; (1G) Josephus’ Bellum (and Vita); (1H) the New Testament; (1I) early rabbinic traditions; and (1J) papyrological and epigraphic evidence.

The conduct of research objective no. 1A will be allotted to a PhD student. The aim of the study of the Septuagint (only the Greek books that have counterparts in the Hebrew Bible) is to analyze the linguistic terminology of travel and mobility in the LXX and to check for the presence of possible textual changes in the depiction of Biblical itineraries. The analysis of the linguistic terminology will focus on the Greek translations of key Hebrew travel terms (especially motion verbs, e.g.: הלך, עבר, בוא, רוץ, הטה, עזב, ישׁר; types of roads: דרך, ארח, נתיבה, מסלה, מסלול, מעגל, שׁביל, משׁעול, חוץ, רחוב, מעלה, מורד, מעברה, עברה, ראש דרך; and modes of travel and transportation: חמור, פרד, סוס, גמל, בקר, רכב, עגלה, צב). Furthermore, the analysis of Biblical itineraries will revolve around the most important cases (esp. Gen. 12:6-9, 13:1-2, 28:10-19, 35:1-27, 37:12-18; Josh. 10:10-28; Judg. 19; 1 Sam. 13:16-18, 14:31; 2 Sam. 5:22-25, 15:1-16:23; 1 Kings 12; 2 Kings 3:8-27, 4:8-44, 6:11-20, 9:1-37, 10:1-36; Jer. 41). What is more, this study objective will also analyze several chosen examples of routes mentioned in the Hebrew and Greek Biblical texts (e.g., the ascent of Beth Horon and the Beersheba – Jerusalem – Jenin highway) on the basis of both literary data and published archaeological material to test a widely held conviction on the general continuity (or possible discontinuity) of routes from the Iron Age to later periods, especially the Hellenistic period. Overall, the study of the LXX should show whether, and to what degree, the changed conditions of travel and mobility in Hellenistic times influenced the LXX authors of the Bible.

The Jewish community living in post-war Poland had, due to the emigration caused by the antisemitic campaign of 1968, shrunk to just a few thousand and was largely atomized. It seemed at the time that the final disintegration of Jewish communal life was taking place. Among those who left were not only assimilated Jews, co-creators of Polish culture and intellectual life, but also those who were involved for many years in Yiddish culture, filling the ranks of various Jewish institutions and organizations and remaining active despite several waves of emigration. “1968 is the year of the expulsion of Jews from Poland; the year in which the phenomenon known as Polish Jewry ended, and we need to be aware of it. […] The end of the Polish yishuv [settlement] and the culture of Polish Jewry lay in the repression of 1967-8, not Nazism or Stalinism…” wrote Henryk Grynberg in the Paris-based Kultura journal. Institutional, public Jewish life was disappearing, and Polish Jews post-March 1968 increasingly became “individual” Jews. And yet, something began to change… An atomized, small community in which feelings of decline dominated after March 1968 began to revive in the 1980s, breathing new life into existing institutions or (over time) creating new ones.

The aim of this project is to gather the widest and most diverse resource base describing Jewish life in Poland in the 1970s and 1980s and to use it to reconstruct the fullest possible picture of Polish Jewry during this period. Undoubtedly, portraying Jews in Poland during this period is no easy task. However, preliminary research has shown that thanks to the use of an interdisciplinary approach drawing on historical studies, social sciences, memory studies and literary studies research, and utilizing a combination of archival, press materials and personal sources (Jewish literary personal accounts, testimonies, and interviews), it is possible to reconstruct an image of Jewish life in Poland during this period that includes the history and activities of particular Jewish institutions, and the experiences of individual Polish Jews, both those connected with institutions and those living outside their structures, but who consider themselves Jewish. The gathering and analysis of the diverse source material will also allow for an examination of meetings between Jews living in Poland and those visiting from abroad during this period, tracing the processes occurring inside the Jewish community in Poland, and identifying the watershed moments which shaped its functioning.

The research planned for this project has been divided into the following tasks:

• In the circle of Jewish institutions — the activities of the Social and Cultural Association of Jews in Poland (Towarzystwo Społeczno-Kulturalne Żydów w Polsce, TSKŻ), Jewish Religious Union (Związek Religijny Wyznania Mojżeszowego, ZRWM), State Yiddish Theatre (Państwowy Teatr Żydowski, PTŻ) and the Jewish Historical Institute (Żydowski Instytut Historyczny, ŻIH)

• “Individual Jews” — the fates of Polish Jews through the lens of personal sources

• Meetings — Jews living in Poland and Jews visiting Poland

• From decline to rebirth — watershed moments in the life of the Jewish community in Poland.

In order to carry out these tasks, it is necessary to conduct research in Polish, American and Israeli libraries and archives, as well as to conduct interviews with Polish Jews. The collected sources (files created by institutions and offices, press materials, personal sources), written and/or recorded in various languages (mainly in Polish, Yiddish and English, but also Hebrew), will be analyzed in the broader context of literary studies, memory studies, social sciences, and historical research.

In the existing scholarly literature, no work has thus far attempted to comprehensively describe Jewish life in Poland after March 1968 until the fall of communism and to answer the question of the Jewish community’s path from decline and disintegration to rebirth. The project attempts to fill this gap.

The project is financed by the National Science Centre (Poland) and Dr Monika Stępień serves as a principal investigator.

Interwar Lwów was not only the third largest city in Poland, but also - next to Vilnius - probably the most diverse in terms of nationality and religion. At the same time, Lwów was a center where Jews, due to their number, and especially to the variety and scale of their activities in almost all spheres of life, occupied a special place. The census of 1921 listed 219,388 Lwów inhabitants, 76,854 of whom were Jews. In 1931, 512,231 people lived in Lwów, including 99,595 Jews. Thus, every third inhabitant of the city had Jewish ancestry. Jews featured more heavily than the rest of the population in industry (especially paper, textile, leather, and clothing industries), crafts, trade, and insurance. They were distinguished by their high percentage in certain liberal professions (in 1931 they constituted 70.4% of all freely practicing physicians and 72.4% of all representatives of the legal profession).

To date, the subject of the presence of Jewish female physicians had not attracted the attention of researchers, despite the fact that the first Jewish woman graduated from medical school in Lviv in 1903, i.e., 9 years after the opening of the Medical Department of the John Kazimir University. The presence of female physicians in the professional structure of interwar Lviv calls for research on the collective portrait of this group. The following indicators will be taken into consideration: geographic provenance (place of birth, place of residence of parents, studies), information on parents, which will allow to establish the position in the socio-professional structure, degree of assimilation, question of pre-academic education, age at which women began studies, data on place of work, stages in professional career, position in the medical environment of the Second Polish Republic, family and professional ties, and involvement in aid and philanthropic activities. The prosopographical study of female physicians will also provide an opportunity to compare their fates with those of medical doctors and will allow us to unequivocally confirm or reject the thesis of female predominance in certain specialties (e.g. dentistry).

The project is conducted by Dr hab. Anna Jakimyszyn-Gadocha and financed by the Lanckorońskich Foundation.

During the autonomous period of Galicia (1867-1915), Krakow was its second largest city, the main administrative center of its western part. Its industrial importance increased at the end of the 19th century. In 1910, there were 178 industrial plants in Krakow, and 88 in Podgórze. Some of them were owned by local Jews (e.g. brickyards, lime kilns, chemical plants, soda water). The main research goal of the project is to determine to what extent the activities of Jewish entrepreneurs contributed to the transformation of the city. As part of the project, the careers and biographies of important figures will be reconstructed, such as Gustaw and Maurycy Baruchs, Bernard and Władysław Libanowie, as well as those who are less well known, such as the Kamslers, Baumingers and Hochstim. A general description of the entire community will be created based on such elements as: property status, career model (including membership of municipal councils and city councils, activity in chambers of commerce and industry, as well as masonic or charity associations, how they acquired the capital and qualifications necessary to conduct industrial activity) place of origin and residence, family situation and mutual relations between the families of Jewish and Christian capitalists, as well as religious issues (the problem of conversion). The share of Jewish industrialists in the municipal investments implemented will be estimated, i.e. construction of schools, waterworks, paving and electrification of streets, construction of a tram network. The project will try to answer the question of whether the creation of specific industrial plants contributed to the development of individual suburbs (later districts), the so-called Greater Krakow, and how. Based on the industrial cadastre and factory inspections conducted by inspectors, working conditions in the industrial plants at that time, a specific number of employed workers, legal and property transformations in individual enterprises will also be explained. The final result of the project will be a collection of articles published in a scientific monograph. An appendix to the publication will be a list of operating enterprises and industrial plants in the area of ​​Krakow, Podgórze and the municipalities near Krakow which were owned or managed by Jews. The biographies of the Jewish entrepreneurs will also be made available online. Two thematic workshops are also planned to organize and establish cooperation with museum institutions. Research will also be conducted in Krakow, Warsaw, Vienna and Lviv.


The project is financed by the National Science Centre (Poland) and Dr Przemysław Zarubin serves as a principal investigator.

The battle at Gaugamela, fought between the Macedonian-Greek forces led by Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia, and the Persian army under the Achaemenid King Darius III in 331 BCE, has rightly been labeled as one of the most important battles in the history of the ancient world. Indeed, its final result led to both the effective collapse of the two-centuries-old Persian Empire and the emergence of a new age, now commonly labeled as the Hellenistic period. It was the Hellenistic period which brought about an unprecedented export of Greek culture and language all over the ancient Near East (as far as modern Pakistan) and as such laid the foundations for the cultural heritage of the Mediterranean and Middle East worlds which have endured to the present.

Despite the tremendous importance of this battle, its precise location is not certain and this situation certainly stems from the state of the extant historical sources. First of all, the extant ancient sources do not provide us with very precise geographical and topographical information (at least not to the extent which would satisfy modern geographers and cartographers). As a result, there can be no surprise that modern scholars have not agreed on a single location for the Gaugamela battlefield, suggesting instead several, esp.: Karamleis, Qaraqosh, Tell Aswad, (south of) Wardak, and Tell Gomel.

However, the past state of research on Gaugamela clearly features several deficiencies. First and foremost, past identifications have not been based on detailed and comprehensive on-site examinations. In contrast, two reasons in particular may incline us to now take up this long-debated question. First, the recent period of stability in the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq brought modern archaeology into full bloom - more than forty international teams have commenced work in Kurdish Iraq in the last decade, with new teams being added to this list every year. Second, the development of modern technology (especially remote sensing and GIS studies) currently allows us to work with much better techniques than a few decades ago, not to mention the 1940s, when two major identifications of the Gaugamela battlefield were formulated.


In this light, the aim of the project is to establish the precise location of the Gaugamela battlefield using a unique approach which combines the methods of ancient history and landscape archaeology (the use of ancient textual evidence, scholarly literature, past and recent cartographic data, satellite remote sensing imagery, GIS [Geographic Information System] capabilities, fieldwork including selected geophysical surveys). What is more, it is hoped that a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach towards the identification of the Gaugamela battlefield may also bring many new insights into other closely related research fields (e.g. Macedonian military warfare, communication routes in the Tigris region, source criticism of the Alexander histories, new study cases of satellite remote sensing and GIS in ancient history and archaeology).


The project is financed by the National Science Centre (Poland) and Prof. Michał Marciak serves as a principal investigator.

The aim of the project is to obtain, analyze, and archive information about the preserved sections of European hollow ways in a digital database. As part of the interdisciplinary project, research is carried out using modern technologies - Geographic Information Systems.

In contrast to gorges, hollow ways are terrain forms of an anthropogenic origin. Sunken lanes are created as a result of the long-term and intensive movements of people, animals and wheeled vehicles along a designated section. Cultural landscapes are often crisscrossed by linear depressions that mark the location of former settlements and tracts. The course of hollow ways, their layout and stage of development indirectly prove the relationship of a given culture with the natural environment. Since antiquity, these forms have been extremely diverse in terms of their morphometric features since they were created over the course of many stages, at different times, and as a result of the activity of many cultures.

The first researchers used aerial images to map hollow ways in the Middle East, while in recent years they have been identified on the basis of satellite images. Currently, the availability of high-resolution altitude data in Europe allows for a more detailed inventory. However, the sunken lanes found in Europe have not yet received much attention in the framework of humanities research. The current state of research on hollow ways is mainly based on spatially limited geomorphological research. The project aims to address this gap through digital research on unnoticed heritage.

In the face of advancing environmental and civilization changes, the project will include an assessment of the state of preservation of sunken lanes and their potential threats through the use of Geographic Information Systems. The project involves the innovative use of IT tools to make research results available to every Internet user in an attractive graphic form. The implementation of the project has a social aspect, serving to build awareness and social responsibility for the often-undervalued heritage of hollow ways.

The research has been supported by a grant from the Priority Research Area Heritage under the Strategic Program Excellence Initiative at the Jagiellonian University.

Investigators: Prof. Michał Marciak, Daniel Sobczyński

The project investigates the religious education supplied outside the traditional framework of the cheder. In 19th century Galicia, 'Mosaic religion' became a regular school subject which was taught in public schools (both Jewish and general) at various levels (primary, secondary). While it had already been introduced to some schools before 1850, it only became common in the final three decades of the 19th century. The religious instruction was supervised by the Jewish communities, but the introduction of these lessons was regulated the general administration.

The religious instruction offered outside the cheder is an important facet of the 'modernization' of Jewry in Central Eastern Europe. The discussions pertinent to the content of instruction reflect inner-communal tensions and competing visions of Judaism and Jewish society.

The project focuses on the following themes: teaching programs, teachers of Mosaic religion (biographies and a collective portrait), schoolbooks and the content of instruction, legal framework of the religious instruction, and the role of these lessons for Jewish youth. Those subjects are approached from several perspectives: legal history and the history of administration, network analysis, comparative text studies, intellectual history, and the sociology of education.

The project addresses an important gap in our knowledge on the history of Jews in Galicia, and more broadly on the history of Jews in Eastern Europe. It will deepen our understanding of the position of Jewish communities, the relationship between communities and the state, and of the religious Mosaics and intellectual life of 19th century Central-Eastern European Jewry.

The project is financed by the National Science Centre and Alicja Maślak-Maciejewska serves as a principal investigator. One of the objectives of the project is to prepare a biographical database & dictionary of Galician teachers of religion. The following persons are writing entries for this dictionary: Maria Vovchko, Jolanta Kruszniewska, Bogusław A. Baczyński, Małgorzata Śliż-Marciniec, and Anna Trząsalska.