Leiden Or. 8264 – A Qur'ānic Manuscript On Papyrus At University Library, Leiden, From 1st / 2nd Century Hijra
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First Composed: 26th December 2014
Last Updated: 11th August 2016
Assalamu ʿalaykum wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:
The recto side of folio of manuscript Leiden Or. 8264 at the University Library, Leiden, the Netherlands.
Late 1st / early 2nd century of hijra. This is based on recent radiocarbon dating of this papyrus under the auspices of the Corpus Coranicum project which gave a date range of 653-766 CE with 95.4% probability. Noseda, who published this manuscript, noting some of its archaic features coming from 1st and 2nd centuries of hijra, strangely dated the folio to 3rd century AH / 9th century CE.
MS Leiden Or. 8264.
Size & Folios
13.3 cm x 10.7 cm. Manuscript on papyrus. Only one folio.
History Of The Manuscript
The manuscript was privately acquired by C. van Arendonk (d. 1946) from Erik van Scherling, an antiquarian in Oegstgeest, who, in turn, may have brought the papyrus from Egypt. Van Arendonk was a curator of the Leiden Oriental collections. The papyrus comes apparently from a collection, either private or public, as there is a label pasted on the glass with the mark ‘A1’.
Script & Ornamentation
Ḥijāzī-like. The writing here is totally different from the one that is seen in the documentary papyri. The text is not divided into verses, presence of open ʿayn and bottom of the alif bending to the right are perhaps a sign of antiquity of this folio. Recto side shows text in black ink parallel to the papyrus fibres; original cutting lines preserved on right, left, top and bottom; right bottom corner broken off; two small holes in the papyrus. On the verso side, seven lines written in black ink at right angles to papyrus fibers; bottom quarter of papyrus blank.
The papyrus exhibits quite a few spelling as well as orthographical peculiarities. For example, in recto, line 2, al-samaʾ is written using ṣad not sīn. This is not new and has been observed in Arabic papyri. A primitive rosette appears in line 5 (in verse 13) which is not even end of the verse! Noseda says that this is probably the result of the fact that the text was written by someone who has not much practice in writing or who was learning how to write.
Qur'ans written on papyrus are quite rare. This is because papyrus, unlike parchment, is not as durable a material for everyday use. This does not mean that the papyrus Qur'ans did not exist. Due to their fragile nature combined with regular use of the Qur'an, these manuscripts may not have survived. Perhaps the most well-known example of the Qur'an on papyrus (now lost!) is that of P. Michaélidès No. 32, dated to 1st century AH. In the "now lost" category are two other papyrus fragments, viz., Arabic Palaeography Plate 43 and P. Michaélidès 190. Other existing papyrus Qur'an fragments include P. Utah. Ar. 342, , P. Duke Inv. 274, Khirbet el-Mird and other smaller fragments.
The contents of the folio are tabulated below.
|Leiden Or. 8264|
|Folios||Qur'anic Surah / Ayah||Image Publication||Comments|
|1r||71:10 - 71:19||Noseda, 2004||–|
|1v||71:19 - 71:25||Noseda, 2004||–|
The University Library, Leiden.
References & Notes
 "Oudste Leidse Koranfragmenten ruim een eeuw ouder dan gedacht". For English translation of the same see "Oldest Quran Fragments in Leiden" at Leiden University. For dating, see Corpus Coranicum website. All the links accessed on 10th August 2016.
 S. N. Noseda, "A Third Koranic Fragment On Papyrus: An Opportunity For A Revision", Rendiconti Classe Di Lettere E Scienze Morali E Storiche, 2004, Vol. 137, pp. 313-326 esp. p. 317. Noseda's history of the manuscript and its description of the script have been summarised above.
 S. Hopkins, Studies In The Grammar Of Early Arabic, Based Upon Papyri Datable To before 300 A.H. / 912 A.D., 1984, London Oriental Series - 37, Oxford University Press: Oxford, p. 38.
 B. Moritz (Ed.), Arabic Palaeography: A Collection Of Arabic Texts From The First Century Of The Hidjra Till The Year 1000, 1905, Publications of the Khedivial Library, No. 16, Cairo, Plate 43.
 A. Grohmann, "The Problem Of Dating Early Qur'ans", Der Islam, 1958, Volume 33, Number 3, p. 228, Plate IV.
 W. M. Malczycki, "A Qur'anic Amulet On Papyrus: P. Utah. Ar. 342", in A. T. Schubert and P. M. Sijpesteijn (Eds.), Documents And The History Of The Early Islamic World, 2015, Koninklijke Brill NV: Leiden (The Netherlands), pp. 236-246. This papyrus was originally discussed in W. M. Malczycki, Literary Papyri From The University Of Utah Arabic Papyrus And Paper Collection, 2006, Ph. D. Thesis (unpublished), University of Utah, pp. 91-127 (P. Utah Inv. 342).
 P. Duke Inv. 274, accessed on 26th December 2014. Malczycki says Noseda could have added this manuscript to his list of seven papyrus Qur'ans, see W. M. Malczycki, "A Qur'anic Amulet On Papyrus: P. Utah. Ar. 342", in A. T. Schubert and P. M. Sijpesteijn (Eds.), Documents And The History Of The Early Islamic World, 2015, op. cit., p. 236. In fact Noseda did include this in his total, see S. N. Noseda, "A Third Koranic Fragment On Papyrus: An Opportunity For A Revision", Rendiconti Classe Di Lettere E Scienze Morali E Storiche, 2004, op. cit., p. 316, footnote 11 (No. V).
 M. J. Kister, "On An Early Fragment Of The Qur'an" in S. R. Brunswick and J. C. Greenfield (Eds.), Studies In Judaica, Karaitica And Islamica Presented To Leon Nemoy On His Eightieth Birthday, 1982, Bar-Ilan University Press: Ramat-Gan, pp. 163-166. This papyrus fragment of the Qur'an was originally published by Grohmann who described the fragment as "an official letter probably referring to the embola" (see A. Grohmann, Arabic Papyri From Ḫirbet El-Mird, 1963, Bibliothèque du Muséon - 52, Louvain-Leuven, pp. 30-32, Papyrus No. 28, Plate XIV). Kister corrected it by showing that this fragment contains Qur'an 3:102-103.
 S. N. Noseda, "A Third Koranic Fragment On Papyrus: An Opportunity For A Revision", Rendiconti Classe Di Lettere E Scienze Morali E Storiche, 2004, op. cit., p. 316, footnote 11 (No. VII); W. M. Malczycki, "A Qur'anic Amulet On Papyrus: P. Utah. Ar. 342", in A. T. Schubert and P. M. Sijpesteijn (Eds.), Documents And The History Of The Early Islamic World, 2015, op. cit., p. 236 & footnote 5.
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