A Pre-Islamic Arabic Inscription At Umm Al-Jimāl

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First Composed: 6th March 2005

Last Modified: 16th March 2005

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Assalamu ʿalaykum wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:


5th or 6th century CE. Littmann dates it to the 6th century CE whereas Bellamy places it in the 5th century CE.




Bellamy says that the grammar in this inscription is straightforward classical Arabic. He adds that the language in this inscription is closer to modern Arabic than the language of Shakespeare is to modern English. Like the Namarah inscription of 328 CE, the presence of classical Arabic in this inscription validates the conservatism of Arabic language.


The inscription reads (after Bellamy):

  1. This [inscription] was set up by colleagues of ʿUlayh
  2. son of ʿUbaydah, secretary
  3. of the cohort Augusta Secunda
  4. Philadelphiana; may he go mad who
  5. effaces it


Umm al-Jimāl, Syria.

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[1] A. Grohmann, Arabische Paläographie II: Das Schriftwesen. Die Lapidarschrift, 1971, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften Philosophisch - Historische Klasse: Denkschriften 94/2. Hermann Böhlaus Nachf.: Wein, p. 14 and p. 17.

[2] J. A. Bellamy, "Two Pre-Islamic Arabic Inscriptions Revised: Jabal Ramm And Umm Al-Jimal", Journal Of The American Oriental Society, 1988, Volume 108, pp. 372-378.

[3] J. A. Bellamy, "The Arabic Alphabet", in W. M. Senner (ed.), The Origins Of Writing, 1989, University of Nebraska Press, p. 98.

[4] B. Gruendler, The Development Of The Arabic Scripts: From The Nabatean Era To The First Islamic Century According To The Dated Texts, 1993, Harvard Semitic Series No. 43, Scholars Press: Atlanta (GA), p. 14.

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