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    Leiden’s oldest Koran fragments more than a century


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    Leiden’s oldest Koran fragments more than a century Empty Leiden’s oldest Koran fragments more than a century

    Post by Abdulateeph on Sat Aug 30, 2014 10:58 am

    Leiden’s oldest Koran fragments more than a century
    older than previously believed
    The very oldest Koranic fragments owned by the Leiden
    University Libraries date back to the second half of the
    seventh century, between 30 and 70 years after the death of
    the Prophet Muhammad. This has been shown by newly
    conducted radiocarbon analyses. This finding agrees with
    official Islamic teachings.
    The Koranic fragments, which are on papyrus and
    parchment, do not themselves bear a date. ‘On the basis of
    the elongated, slanted Arabic script known as Hijazi we did
    know that the fragments in Leiden must be old,’ says Dr
    Arnoud Vrolijk, curator of Oriental manuscripts in the
    Special Collections department of the Leiden University
    Libraries. The papyrus fragment had been cautiously dated
    to about 770–830 A.D., but the recently completed analysis
    has shown that it is older than that, dating from the period
    between 650 and 715. ‘Well over a century older than we
    thought,’ says Vrolijk. No one had ever ventured to estimate
    the age of the parchment fragments. ‘Now we can say that
    the oldest fragment on parchment probably dates from the
    period 650–700.’
    Committed to writing during Uthman’s caliphate
    ‘What’s interesting,’ says Vrolijk, ‘is that according to official
    Islamic teaching the Koran was first committed to writing
    during the caliphate of Uthman, who ruled from 645 to 656.
    The results of the analysis are in very close agreement with
    that, or at least don’t contradict it.’ Many Western Islamic
    scholars are sceptical about such an early date for when the
    Koran was set down in writing. They believe that the
    canonical text of the Koran was only written down much
    later, in the ninth century or even later.’ Patricia Crone and
    Michael Cook, Arabists and historians at Princeton University
    who received an honorary doctorate from Leiden University
    in 2013 also joined in the discussion. They are among the
    Extra investment in the fragments
    In the wake of the carbon-14 analysis the University
    Libraries decided to make an extra investment to improve
    the physical condition of the old parchment. In the libraries’
    own restoration workshop Karin Scheper stabilised the
    material and reinforced the fragile edges with new
    Major research on the early history of the Koranic text
    Under the coordination of the Berlin-Brandenburgische
    Akademi der Wissenschaften, two institutes – one German
    (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) and the other French
    (Agence Nationale de Recherche) – began the international
    Coranica project, aimed at research into the early history of
    the Koranic text. The research deals not only with the text,
    but also with the physical fragments. The researchers are
    including in their research fragments located in places like
    Berlin and Paris. Although more fragments are held
    elsewhere, Leiden University is also being featured in the
    research due to a number of fragments in its collections.
    Leiden University was happy to co-operate

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