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The exact (think GPS) location of many biblical sites are known. We know exectly where Abraham bound Issac and suspect that is the same spot where the Holy of Holies was. Some of the ancient sites (or their remnants) still stand such as the wall to Harod’s Temple, Cave of Macpelah, Masada, and Rachel’s Tomb. Same is true of several historical sites of European Jewry such as the Old-New Synagogue in Prague. People tour these sites and make pilgramedges to the graves of famous rabbis. It would stand to reason that the precise location(s) of the academies where the Talmud—-arguably the most essential text in Judaism—-was debated, written, and stored would also be known.

Was the Talmud debated and written at a specific location—such as a synagogue, yeshiva, private house, etc—in Babylon and is there any remnants of the building(s) that was/were used? Since authorship took place over the course of several hundred years it seems probable that there may have been numerous sites used. There had to be a place where the Talmud was debated, physical written, and stored (like in a library). Do we have knowledge of the exact locations of these academies/building and are there any remnants still in existence? It would seem that such a “holy” site would elicit much interest and—-Iraqi politics notwithstanding—-would be given a high priority for visiting.

  • Naharda and Pumpedita, maybe? – DanF Aug 27 '18 at 21:08
  • @DanF Seems likely, as those were Jewish suburbs of Babylon, where the Babylonian yeshivoth were located. – ezra Aug 27 '18 at 23:07
  • Can the location be narrowed down any further? If there are no remnants, are there any known artist renditions of the academies? – JJLL Aug 27 '18 at 23:38
  • One of the main redactors of Bavli was Rav Ashi, who was the head of the Sura academy. – Kazi bácsi Aug 28 '18 at 7:41
  • @Kazibácsi. The link you provided is helpful as it contains a general location and it includes an artist’s rendering of what the Sura Academy building actually looked at. – JJLL Aug 28 '18 at 10:37
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[A] place where the Talmud was debated, physically written, and stored (like in a library). Do we have knowledge of the exact locations of these academies/building and are there any remnants still in existence?

The Babylonian Talmud was debated in the schools of Babylonia, primarily the "two yeshivoth" and their offshoots. It was redacted by Rav Ashi, who lived in Sura, along with Ravina. The question of when it was first written down is tricky: it was primarily passed down orally for a long time, and taught by the Geonim in the yeshivoth of Babylonia. It is traditionally held that to be a Gaon one had to know the Talmud off by heart, and in the days before widespread printing, it's unlikely that there were many printed copies of the Talmud, or a master copy.

The yeshiva of Pumbedita, one of the "two yeshivoth" along with Sura, was in the modern day Fallujah (which has been much in the headlines the last few years). Neharda'i, home of Shmuel, is believed to be modern Anbar. Rava was from Mechuza, modern day al-Mada'in. And see more on Wikipedia here.

As for whether any of the buildings are still existent, there is no evidence of it.

  • This is very sensible. Are you aware of any artist renderings? .Again, given the significance of the Talmud, I am surprised more information is not known about the physical buildings. – JJLL Aug 28 '18 at 17:16
  • I don't know of any. I think it's pretty indicative of the attitude of the rabbis: they thought the material studied was important, not the places. (Unlike, say, the Temple Mount, where the place itself is considered sacred.) – Josh Friedlander Aug 28 '18 at 17:21
  • I understand that but there are so many sites that ARE visited for sake of the events that occurred there even if there are other issues that are not restricted to time and place. Take for example, people visit Independence Hall in Philadelphia not only because that is where the US Constitution was debated and written, but it also represents the universal concepts the Constitution represents. By the way Josh, welcome to Mi Yodeya. – JJLL Aug 28 '18 at 17:39
  • Thanks! I hear your point and without detracting from it, it's worth bearing in mind how distant in the past the sages of the Talmud were, even compared to the signing of the US constitution... – Josh Friedlander Aug 28 '18 at 18:04

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