October 09, 2021 3 min read 0 Comments

The earliest discovered ketubah 

was found near the Dead Sea which is now considered Jordan. It is the Ketubah of Babatha, a woman from the town of Mahoza. An Israeli Archaeologist Yigael Yadin unearthed it in 1960 and dated Babatha’s ketubah to the beginning of the second century along with a few other important legal documents that she owned. 

Ketubot from the fifth century, written on papyrus in Aramaic from the days of Artaxerxes, the King of Persia are very similar to modern day ketubot . However, decorated ketubot have been around since 14th century Spain.

In Israeli’s National Library, there is a treasure trove of ancient ketubot. Sephardi Ketubot from different periods, starting from fifteenth century have special decorations and illustrations. For instance, there are famous ketubahs from Ancona, Italy.

 In the fifteenth century, Ancona, the Jews were respected and prospered and had a growing community. That changed in the sixteenth century, 24 of the Jews were tortured and the Jews were confined to a ghetto where they were continually oppressed as late as the 1770s.
Perhaps as an effort to cling on to tradition and have resilience in the face of adversity, Ancona became the major center of Ketubah decoration.  So luxurious and beautiful were the ketubot that the Jewish authorities had to set a maximum permitted price.

Ancona ketubot became easily distinguishable, they were distinctive in their use of color and beautiful designs. Another feature was the shape, a pointed upper border known as the ‘ogee arch’ which was reminisicent of gothic architecture.


Another famous Ketubah that dates back to 1797 from Rome, Italy has really vibrant color and illustrations. Decorated with flowers, verses and illustrations of women representing values and virtues. On the left side are justice, modesty and hope, and on the right side power, victory and moderation.  Above is a drawing of a bride and groom tied in a chain and holding out a burning heart to each other, and the caption is: "Concordia Maritale" - Harmony in Marriage. Up and down are the family symbols of the bride and groom. The illustrations added to the inscriptions in the different periods show the culture, art, standard of living, the relationship between men and women and more in the different communities.

Since the destruction of the Jewish temple and the subsequent exile of the Jewish people, they have always looked towards the rebuilding of Jerusalem. The hopes and prayers have always manifested and expressed through Jewish art and other mediums. Ketubot not being an exception, between the 17th and 19th centuries, In Spain, Italy and Islamic countries, it became fashionable to order decorated ketubot with the artist connecting the ketubah with Jerusalem. From the second half of the 17th century, there was a shift in design. The artists  would draw the City of Jerusalem in a medallion shape.  Focusing the attention to Jerusalem in these motifs would remind the bride and groom,  as the verse in Psalms says " “I will keep Jerusalem in my memory at my happiest hour.” The meaning quite simply, that even at a wedding we remember the destruction of the temple.    a few examples of the artist drawing inspiration from Jerusalem and our yearning for it are seen in the following ketubot.

In the above ketubah, the building represents the Temple-on-Temple Mount and the mountains behind are the Jerusalem Hills. Surprisingly the design of the Temple looks a lot like the Dome of the Rock, this is not coincidence. The Crusaders had named the Dome of the Rock, Domini Templum (the Temple of the Lord), and on returning to Europe this was the image they had brought back with them.  Countless artists used this image as the base for their creativity and connection to Jerusalem.

To this very day, Noam at Ketubahome has also used Jerusalem to draw inspiration for many of her Ketubot- the Jerusalem of Gold Ketubah and Jerusalem Papercut Ketubah are the most popular among her clients. We are proud to help clients around the world maintain their connection to their dreams and hopes of Jerusalem by providing them with this special connection to Israel.