Dr. Ortal-Paz Saar

Universitair docent
Antieke Geschiedenis
Antieke geschiedenis
030 253 3845

Ortal-Paz Saar researches religious studies and Jewish cultural history. She is particularly interested in portraying the interaction between different religious traditions. Previously focusing on ancient and medieval magic and rituals, she currently researches the topic of identity through the prism of funerary inscriptions. Additionally, Ortal-Paz is developing a digital humanities international project titled PEACE: Portal of Epigraphy, Archaeology, Conservation and Education on Jewish Funerary Culture.



Past research:


Following the completion of her doctorate, Ortal-Paz pursued a research project at Cambridge University, examining manuscripts from the Cairo Genizah; she has worked on a British-Israeli academic exchange project (BIRAX), composing a prosopographic database of Babylonian incantation bowls; and was part of an international team that catalogued the Berlin Vorderasiatisches Museum collection of incantation bowls. In 2012-2013 she was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where she explored the relationships between different religious groups in late-antique Mesopotamia.



Recent publications:


Ortal-Paz's first book is Jewish Love Magic: From Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2017).


Her second monograph, written together with Siam Bhayro, James Nathan Ford, and Dan Levene, is Aramaic Magic Bowls in the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2018).


Together with Leonard Rutgers she has edited a volume titled Letters in the Dust: The Epigraphy and Archaeology of Jewish Medieval Cemeteries (Interdisciplinary Studies in Ancient Culture and Religion 23, Leuven: Peeters, 2023).


Ortal-Paz is currently preparing a new monograph on Lives of Jews in Italy: The Prism of Funerary Inscriptions (under contract with Brill).


Additionally, together with Siam Bhayro of the University of Exeter she is editing a Handbook of Jewish Magic (under contract with Brill).



Recent grants:



2022: Lorentz Center workshop grant for organizing the international workshop "Structuring Magic: Towards a Digital Infrastructure of Texts and Artefacts" at the Lorentz Center in Leiden (corresponding organizer, with Korshi Dosoo, Raquel Martin Hernandez and Panagiota Sarischouli).

2018: Research IT Innovation Fund for "A Time for Every Purpose under Heaven: Extracting Dates from Hebrew and Aramaic Texts" (with L.V. Rutgers and the Utrecht University Digital Humanities Lab).

2017: Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe grant for the digital humanities project PEACE: Portal of Epigraphy, Archaeology, Conservation and Education on Jewish Funerary Culture (together with Leonard Rutgers). The project partners are Utrecht University, the Epidat project of the Steinheim Institute (Germany) and the Inscriptions of Israel/Palestine project of Brown University (USA).

2017: European Association of Jewish Studies grant for organizing a Winter School at Utrecht University on Digital Humanities and Jewish Epigraphy.

2016: European Association of Jewish Studies grant for organizing an international workshop at Utrecht University on medieval Jewish cemeteries (together with Leonard Rutgers).


Research interests:

Digital humanities, rituals, funerary culture, sociolinguistics, interfaith relations, ethnic identity, diasporic identity

O.-P. Saar, Jewish Love Magic

Bhayro, Ford, Levene and Saar, Aramaic Magic Bowls in the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin

Rutgers and Saar (eds.), Letters in the Dust