"Manuscript sleuths" try to crack secrets of ancient Jewish books

Detective work comes in all forms, including those willing to intensely study ancient Jewish manuscripts looking for clues to the past. This work is chronicled in the recent novel People of the Book.

Much of their work has also been cataloged in the Jerusalem Index of Jewish Art (modeled on the Princeton Index of Christian Art), "which has become the most comprehensive research and educational tool of the Jewish visual heritage in existence."

The CSI forensics crew has nothing on the team of Michal Sternthal, head of the Section of Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts at the Center for Jewish Art at the Hebrew University. "We look for clues hidden within the ancient hand-written books that will identify the scribe, the artist, and the patron."