PERF 558

PERF 558

PERF 558 is the oldest surviving Arabic papyrus, and the oldest dated Arabic text from the Islamic era, dating from 22 AH (AD 642) and found in Heracleopolis in Egypt. It is a bilingual Arabic-Greek fragment, consisting of a tax receipt, or as it puts it "Document concerning the delivery of sheep to the Magarites and other people who arrived, as a down-payment of the taxes of the first indiction." Features of interest include:

  • The first well-attested use of the disambiguating dots that would become an essential feature of the Arabic alphabet;
  • It begins with the Islamic formula "Bismillah ir-rahman ir-rahim" (In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate)
  • It records the date both in the Islamic calendar (Jumada I, year 22) and in the Coptic calendar (30 Pharmouthi, 1st indiction), allowing confirmation of the traditional date of the Hijra.
  • In Greek, it calls the Arabs "Magaritae", a term, believed to be related to the Arabic "muhajir", emigrant, often used in the earliest non-Islamic sources. It also calls them "Saracens".

After excavation, the papyrus was put in the Erzherzog Rainer Papyrus Collection in Vienna.

Arabic text

Dots and hamzas added; otherwise, spelling uncorrected.

  1. بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم هذا ما اخذ عبد اله
  2. ابن جبر واصحبه من الجزر من اهنس
  3. من خليفة تدراق ابن ابو قير الاصغر ومن خليفة اصطفر ابن ابو قير الاكبر خمسين شاة
  4. من الجزر وخمس عشرة شاة اخرى اجزرها اصحاب سفنه وكتئبه وثقلاءه في
  5. شهر جمدى الاولى من سنة اثنين وعشرين وكتبه ابن حديدو
  1. In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful. This is what `Abdallah,
  2. Son of Jabir, and his companions-in-arms, have taken as of slaughter sheep at Heracleopolis (Ihnas)
  3. from a representative of Theodorakios (Tidraq), second son of Apa Kyros (Abu Qir), and from a substitute of Christophoros (Istufur), eldest son of Apa Kyros (Abu Qir), fifty sheep
  4. as of slaughter and fifteen other sheep. He gave them for slaughter for the crew of his vessels, as well as his cavalry and his breastplated infantry in
  5. the month of Jumada I in the year twenty-two. Written by Ibn Hadidu.

See also

  • Pre-Islamic Arabic inscriptions

External links

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