MAE (Kunstkamera) RAS, St. Petersburg
The Mingana Folios in Their Historical Context (Notes in the Margins of Newspaper Publications)
Abstract. The very early radiocarbon dating of Mingana Qur’anic folios from the Birmingham University Library as well as of the famous San‘a’ palimpsest and Qur’an fragment from the University of Tübingen Library — before the reign of ‘Uthman — casts doubt on both the Islamic tradition as well as the scholarly theory of the history of the Qur’anic text's fixation. Thus, today we should explain the gap of at least 50—70 years between stocking of the blank parchment and its use for the copying of the texts of the Qur’an. Parchment was an expensive material (the skin of the entire animal was used to produce the big folio). Monastic and state scriptoria, located on the territory of Greater Syria (al-Sham), Antiochia, al-Hira and Alexandria areas, could store this valuable material (including the donations of the pious laity). These stocks became part of the loot captured by the Arabs in the first years of the conquest. Captured leaves were used for writing the Qur’an. To test this hypothesis, it is necessary to reread the existing historical sources dedicated to the first years of the Arab conquests. The fact that the folios were kept for centuries “dans un coffre de fer, qu’il cacha dans un souterrain” can also partly explain the early radiocarbon dating. The history of the Qur’anic parchments from the Mosque of ‘Amr b. al-‘As in Fustat, Egypt gives the chance to find the other folios of the Birmingham manuscript.
Key words: Early Qur’anic parchments, radiocarbon dating, Mingana Qur’anic folios, University of Birmingham, The Cadbury Research Library, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Russian National Library
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