The Oldest Arabic Parchment Manuscript From Central Asia, 99-100 AH / 718-719 CE

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First Composed: 23rd November 2005

Last Modified: 2nd December 2005

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Assalamu ʿalaykum wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:



Figure: (a) Picture of the papyrus and (b) the content of the papyrus.

[] encloses letters supplied to fill a lacuna.


99-100 AH / 718-719 CE.


The translation of the document is:

  1. In the name of God, the Compassionate and Merciful.
  2. To the Amīr Al-Jarrah ibn ʿAbdallāh from his servant Dīwāstī.
  3. Peace be upon you, O Amīr
  4. as well as the mercy of God. Praise be to
  5. God besides whom there are no other deity.
  6. To proceed... May God refit the Amīr and enjoy (us)
  7. with him. I ...
  8. to the Amīr my need and that of my son Tarkhun and that
  9. the Amīr, may God make (us) enjoy him, has praised my son Tarkhun
  10. if the Amīr sees fit to write
  11. to Sulaymān ibn Abī al-Sirrī (al-Sariyy?) in order that he sends the two of them to the Amīr
  12. so let him do so. Or the Amīr may order that I may be given one of the beasts
  13. dedicated to mail so that I let my servant use it to fetch them
  14. to the Amīr, as God has made the (?) of the Amīr for the needy.
  15. ... a succour and mercy
  16. I ask God ... Peace be upon you O Amīr and the mercy of God.


This parchment letter from Sogdiana was discovered in 1934. It was sent from the local Sogdian governor Dīwāstī to his overlord in Khurasan, Al-Jarrah bin ʿAbdallāh. Al-Jarrah was in office for 17 months, from 99-100 AH (from 718 to April 719 CE), to which period this letter can, therefore, be dated.


Perhaps Tajakistan.

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[1] В. А. Крачковская и акад И. Ю. Крачковский, "Древнейший Арабский Документ из Средней Азии", Согдийский Сборник: Сборник Статей О Памятниках Согдийского Яэыка И Кулбтуры Найденных На Горе Мут В Таджикской ССР, 1934, Иэдателбство Академии Наук СССР: Ленинград, pp. 52-90, Plate facing p. 55. [V. A. Kratchkovskaya & I. J. Kratchkovsky, "The Oldest Arabic Manuscript From Central Asia", Sogdiiskii Sbornik: Sbornik Statei o Pamyatnikakh Sogdiiskogo Iazyka i Kultury Naydennykh na gore Mug v Tadzhikskoiy SSR, 1934, Akademiia Nauk SSR: Leningrad, pp. 52-90, Plate facing p. 55.

[2] 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. 167.

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