Zebed Inscription: A Pre-Islamic Trilingual Inscription In Greek, Syriac & Arabic From 512 CE

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First Composed: 17th March 2005

Last Modified: 13th November 2017

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Assalamu ʿalaykum wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:




The Zebed Inscription: A trilingual inscription in Greek, Syriac and Arabic. Note the Arabic text is in the bottom. Figures (b) and (c) show the Arabic inscription with better clarity.


512 CE. This dating is secured using the Greek text.


A trinlingual inscription in Greek, Syriac and Arabic.


This inscription was discovered in Zebed, Syria, by Wetzstein and first published by Sachau. The text covers a lintel over the door to the martyrion of St. Serge. The Arabic, though, does not translate the Greek but merely listing six names, not all of which are mentioned in Greek. This is the earliest inscription to mention الاله, the God. This is also seen a few decades later in an inscription from DÅ«mat al-Jandal, near al-Jawf.


The inscription reads (after Kugener):

With the help of God (الاله)! Sergius, son of Amat Manaf, and Tobi, son of Imru'l-qais and Sergius, son of Saʿd, and Sitr, and Shouraih.


Zebed, south of Aleppo, Syria.

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[1] M. A. Kugener, "Nouvelle Note Sur L'Inscription Trilingue De Zébed", Rivista Degli Studi Orientali, 1907, pp. 577-586. Pl. I facing p. 586.

[2] 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.

[3] 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), pp. 13-14.

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