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Most of the Arabic documents that have survived from the first three centuries of the Islamic era were written on papyrus, the most commonly used writing material in the Near East during this period.
The Arabic papyri in the Khalili Collection date mostly from the 8th and the 9th centuries, and include official and legal documents, receipts, accounts and private letters. Most come from Fustat, and a few originate from Upper Egypt, but pride of place goes to the only extant Arabic papyrus from northern Mesopotamia, an account of expenditure drawn up in a Nestorian monastery under Abbasid rule circa AD 855.
The papyri are an invaluable source of information on scripts, grammar and literary styles, as well as on social and economic life in the early Islamic period. Of the 258 in this catalogue, 108 are illustrated in colour, while the rest, which are of a more fragmentary nature, are reproduced in black and white. The history of the use of papyrus and the methods of its manufacture are discussed in the introduction.
Dr Geoffrey Khan is Lecturer in Hebrew and Aramaic at the Faculty of Oriental Studies, Cambridge University.
292 pages; 108 colour plates, 150 halftones; line drawings
35.5 x 25.5 cm
hardback with dust jacket (slipcased)