Jabal Ramm Inscription: A Fourth Century Pre-Islamic Arabic Inscription

Islamic Awareness

© Islamic Awareness, All Rights Reserved.

First Composed: 6th March 2005

Last Modified: 16th March 2005

submit to reddit

Assalamu ʿalaykum wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:




The Jabal Ramm Inscription: It is the second oldest so far discovered inscription in Arabic alphabet. The reading in (c) is after Bellamy. Also note that there are two short notes in Thamudic written vertically to the left of the inscription and in third line.


Grohmann dates it between 328 and 350 CE. Fourth century CE is a better date.


This inscription is the second oldest so far discovered in Arabic alphabet after the Raqush inscription.

The salient point of this inscription is that it has diacritical points for the letters ج, ي and ن (see line 2). There are two other dots below the space for another ي which is, however, not written. Gruendler does not agree with the arrangement of two dots for ي.


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. I rose and made all sorts of money,
  2. which no world-weary man has [ever] collected.
  3. I have collected gold and silver; I announce it to those who are fed up and unwilling


Jabal Ramm, about 50 kms from ʿAqabah.

Bookmark and Share


[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. 16.

[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. 369-372.

[3] J. A. Bellamy, "The Arabic Alphabet", in W. M. Senner (Ed.), The Origins Of Writing, 1989, University of Nebraska Press, pp. 97-98.

[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. 13.

The images above are reproduced from the stated sources under the provisions of the copyright law. This allows for the reproduction of portions of copyrighted material for non-commercial, educational purposes.

With the exception for those images which have passed into the public domain, the use of these images for commercial purposes is expressly prohibited without the consent of the copyright holder.

Back To The Arabic & Islamic Inscriptions