The Onomasticon of Eretz Israel (The Onomasticon of Iudaea•Palaestina and Arabia in the Greek and Latin Sources) consolidates all the passages in Greek and Latin that mention geographic and ethnic names in Eretz Israel (Palestine) and its immediate vicinity, from the middle of the fourth century BCE (shortly before the conquest of the area by Alexander the Great) until the Muslim conquest in the middle of the seventh century CE. The project, founded in the 1960s by the late Professor Michael Avi-Yonah, was directed by the late Professor Yoram Tsafrir (a Member of the Israel Academy from 2001) from the 1970s until his passing in November 2015.
The excerpts collected in the Onomasticon, culled from all the known Greek and Latin sources, are drawn from over 1,300 texts, written or edited by over 750 authors and editors, including major compositions, correspondence, sermons, administrative and ecclesiastical lists, inscriptions and coins, and from sources in Near Eastern languages, mainly Syriac, which were translated from the Greek. In the published volumes, the entries for the place names are arranged alphabetically. The excerpts within each entry are arranged chronologically, in the source language and in English translation, accompanied by essential textual notes, geographical-historical discussions and, where possible, archeological discussions as well, along with a research bibliography. Wherever possible, sites are identified and described based on the most current research.
The material was gathered in its entirety some years ago, and since then the staff has been editing and updating it, readying it for publication.
The first volume, by Leah Di Segni and Yoram Tsafrir with Judith Green, was published in 2015. This volume presents major texts that mention many names and are therefore excerpted in a number of alphabetical entries. It also contains an annotated directory of primary sources, a general list of abbreviations and an index of all the locations included in the series, as well as an introduction and indexes. The collection of all the major texts in the first volume allows easy access to these longer passages, as the entries themselves contain only concise excerpts relating to the specific places.
The second volume, whose publication, in two parts, is expected in the near future, contains all the entries beginning with the letter A, including the prodigious entry on Arabia.
In the meantime, editing of the volume containing the entries beginning with the letter B proceeds apace, and work continues on the other volumes.