A Signature Believed To Be Of ʿAbd Al-Malik B. Marwān, Before 65 AH / 685 CE

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First Composed: 30th December 2014

Last Modified: 2nd January 2015

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Assalamu ʿalaykum wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:



Figure (a) original inscription and (b) its contents.


Before 65 AH / 685 CE.


Not known.


Kufic script.


The translation of the inscription is:

  1. I am ʿAbd al-Malik bin Marwān.


Umayyad caliph ʿAbd al-Malik bin Marwān reigned from 65 AH / 685 CE to 86 AH / 705 CE. This inscription is located on a distinctive rock face away from any other texts, heightening its sense of importance. His graffito is curiously succint. It does not refer to his caliph functions or his family status. Also absent are any religious elements seen in other Umayyad inscriptions. It is likely that he has inscribed it before his accession to the caliphate in 65 AH / 685 CE. Palaeography clearly indicates an archaic and defective kufic script from the Umayyad times. Note the absence of the long alif vowel in the spelling of the name Marwān.

This inscription was discovered by the Desert Team (Fariq Al-Sahra) from Saudi Arabia in October 2013,[1] who noted the absence of the title amīr al-muʾminīn suggests it was inscribed before ʿAbd al-Malik became caliph. Later, it was discussed by Imbert in a recent article, who makes a similar suggestion giving additional analysis.[2]


Jabal Ḥismā, in the northwest of Saudi Arabia.

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[1] They are a group of amateur Saudi travellers who make field trips across Saudi Arabia reporting on matters relating to archaeology, geography and history, among other things. They have discovered and/or photographed hundreds of Arabic inscriptions, that they generously share with other researchers. The field of early Arabic epigraphy owes them a huge debt of thanks and gratitude, though their efforts are rarely acknowledged.

[2] F. Imbert, "Califes, Princes et Poètes Dans Les Graffiti du Début de l’Islam", Romano-Arabica, 2015, Volume 15, p. 67 and p. 76 (Fig. 4).

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