This level marks the beginning of the part of the Museum that is devoted to history, covering the long period from the 3rd century B.C.E. until the end of World War II.
Here, the display case presents the material evidence of the century’s long history of Greek Jews, through inscriptions, rare books, manuscripts as well as documents of the Ottoman period, which describe the life of the Jewish communities in Greece.
The Jewish communities of the Hellenistic and early Roman period formed the foundation of the communities that flourished during the Byzantine era. The Jews of Byzantium also known as Romaniotes, spoke Greek, while cultivating their unique dialect, Judaeo-Greek. They comprised the majority of the Jewish population in Greek Lands until the 15th century. Towards the end of the 15th century, thousands of Sephardic Jews were forced to leave the Iberian Peninsula as they were persecuted for religious reasons by the Catholic King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. The 1844 Constitution of the newly established Kingdom of Greece emancipated the Jews, recognizing them as equal citizens with equal rights and obligations. This legislation was valid until the end of the 19th century. In 1899, the Greek Government officially recognized the Jewish Communities.
On the same level, there are artefacts proving the participation of the Greek Jews in the Balkan Wars, the First World War and took part in the Asia Minor campaign as well as in the Greek-Italian war. They distinguished themselves in battle and were decorated for their courage.
Additionally, on this level the visitor will see artefacts relevant to Zionism, an ideological and political movement that arose in the 19th century, and whose goal was the establishment of a Jewish State in Palestine. The ultimate result of the Zionist movement was the founding of the State of Israel, in May 1948, as well as the literary and practical revival of the Hebrew language. Jewish immigration to Palestine, then under Ottoman rule, already started in the 1880’s, mainly from Russia.
Click here to see selected artefacts