Glass Vessel With Stamp At Beit Shean From The Time Of Sulaymān Bin ʿAbd al-Malik, 98 AH / 716 CE
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First Composed: 7th April 2009
Last Modified: 7th April 2009
Assalamu ʿalaykum wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:
Figure 1: Picture of glass bottle containing the stamped inscription dated to the time of Sulaymān b. ʿAbd al-Malik. The picture below shows the transcription of the inscription.
Figure 2: Trace of the bottle containing the inscription from the Umayyad times mentioning the Qur'anic verse 26:181. The picture below shows the transcription of the inscription.
Figure 3: Trace of the bottle containing the inscription from the Umayyad times. Below is the transcription of the inscription.
98 AH / 716 CE (Figure 1).
This dated bottle has a five line inscription with line 1 being illegible and other lines readable. Other glass vessels such as those in shown in Figures 2 and 3 have no dates stamped but they are from the Umayyad times and were found in Beit Shean.
Figure 1: [Ordered by] / Sulaymān, commander / of the Faithful / in the year eight and ninety (i.e., 98 AH).
Figure 2: Bism Allāh, awfū al-kayla wa lā takūnū min al-mukhsirīn ("In the name of God. Give just measure and be not among the defrauders").
Figure 3: Bism Allāh, al-wafā lillāh ("In the name of God. Honesty for God")
What was the purpose of these bottles? The answer is found in the fact that the dated bottle was excavated in a shop, in the Umayyad shopping street: the sūq of Hishām (724-743 CE). This sūq which was erected in 738 CE, was destroyed in an earthquake and never rebuilt. Thus the bottle dated to 98 AH / 716 CE was used for almost 22 years before it was brought to the shop and another ten years elapsed before the earthquake. As for other bottles shown in Figures 2 and 3, they were found in the Umayyad shops or in the streets. The colour of the bottles is bluish green.
All this suggests that the stamped bottles were used for business purposes, most likely used as a measuring standard for liquids such as oils, as gathered from the inscriptions exhorting people to be honest, give just measure and not to cheat customers. Not surprisingly, Qur'an 26:181 is used as a stamped inscription on the bottle, as shown in Figure 2, for this purpose. It is also interesting to note that a major chunk of stamped inscriptions on the bottles found at Beit Shean read al-wafā lillāh ("Honesty for God") or bism Allāh, al-wafā lillāh ("In the name of God. Honesty for God").
The inscriptions do not specify the contents of the bottle. The bottle shown in Figure 3 has a small hole in the neck which suggests that it was meant for a liquid which could not be stored in the completely closed vessel.
Beit Shean, Occupied Palestine.
 S. Hadad, "Glass Vessels With Stamps From The Byzantine Through Abbasid Periods At Bet Shean, Israel", Journal Of Glass Studies, 2002, Volume 4, pp. 35-48.
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