Radiocarbon (Carbon-14) Dating Of Manuscripts Of The Qur'ān
© Islamic Awareness, All Rights Reserved.
First Composed: 21st May 2006
Last Modified: 14th August 2016
Assalamu ʿalaykum wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:
Radiocarbon, or Carbon-14 dating, was developed by W. F. Libby, E. C. Anderson and J. R. Arnold in 1949. This radiometric dating technique is a way of determining the age of certain archaeological artefacts of a biological origin up to about 50,000 years old. It is perhaps one of the most widely used and best known absolute dating methods and has become an indispensable part of an archaeologist's tool-kit. In 1960, Libby was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for radiocarbon dating.
In this paper, we would briefly discuss the principles and practice of radiocarbon dating. This will enable the reader to gain an appreciation of the advantages and disadvantages of this process. Is carbon dating applied to the Qur'anic manuscripts? Can radiocarbon dating provide more accurate results than traditional palaeographic techniques and associated methods? We will focus on these questions below.
2. Principles And Practice
Carbon has two stable, nonradioactive isotopes: carbon-12 (12C), and carbon-13 (13C). In addition, there are tiny amounts of the unstable radioactive isotope carbon-14 (14C) on Earth. These isotopes are present in the following amounts 12C - 98.89 %, 13C - 1.11 % and 14C - 0.00000000010 %. In other words, one carbon 14 atom exists in nature for every 1,000,000,000,000 12C atoms in a living being. Although 14C takes up only a minute fraction of the carbon content, its presence in carbon-bearing materials form the basis for important geochronological and environmental applications.
ORIGIN OF CARBON-14 & ITS ASSIMILATION IN THE EARTH'S BIOSPHERE
When cosmic rays enter the earth's atmosphere, they undergo various interactions with gas molecules which results in the production of fast moving neutrons. These energetic neutrons dissociate a nitrogen molecule into atoms and then reacts with these atoms to form 14C. The reaction can be written as:
n + 14N 14C + p
where n is a neutron and p is a proton.
The highest rate of 14C production takes place at stratospheric altitudes of 9 to 15 km. Unlike the commonly available carbon, 12C, 14C is unstable and slowly decays, changing it back to nitrogen and releasing energy. This instability makes it radioactive. The 14C isotope is brought to the earth by atmospheric activities (such as storms) and becomes fixed in the biosphere. Since 14C reacts just like 12C and 13C isotopes of carbon, it becomes part of a plant through photosynthesis reactions. Animals eating these plants in turn absorb 14C as well as the stable isotopes (i.e., 12C and 13C). This process of ingesting 14C continues as long as the plant or animal remains alive. Because 14C is so well mixed up with 12C, the ratio between 14C and 12C is the same in a leaf from a tree, or a part of an animal body. 14C also enters the Earth's oceans in an atmospheric exchange and as dissolved carbonate. The entire 14C inventory is termed the carbon exchange reservoir.
DEATH, DECAY & MATHEMATICS
As soon as a plant or animal dies, the metabolic function of carbon uptake is ceased. There is no replenishment of radioactive 14C and the amount of 14C gradually decreases through radioactive decay as given by the following equation.
14C 14N + β
Age measurements are possible because 14C becomes a part of all organic and inorganic carbon compounds and a steady state between the uptake (photosynthesis or food) and the decay of 14C exists as long as the organism is alive. After death, the only remaining process is decay (β decay in which 14C decays to nitrogen). Measurement of the β-decay rate or counting the remaining 14C atoms gives a measure of the time that elapsed since the steady state is broken. After the emission of β, i.e., a beta particle, 14C is changed into stable and non-radioactive nitrogen, 14N. In other words, the 14C/12C ratio gets smaller and smaller over time. So, we have something like a "clock" which starts ticking the moment a living being dies. Thus it can be said that the radiocarbon dating method can, in principle, be uniformly applied throughout the world.
The radioactive decay of 14C follows what is called an exponential decay. Here the amount of 14C decreases at a rate proportional to its value. Mathematically, it can be expressed in the form of a differential equation, where N is the quantity of 14C and λ is called the decay constant.
Solving this differential equation gives the standard form of the decay equation:
N0 = number of radiocarbon atoms at time t = 0, i.e., the origin of the disintegration time right after the death of plant or animal,
N = number of radiocarbon atoms remaining after radioactive decay during the time t,
λ = radiocarbon decay constant.
Libby, Anderson and Arnold were the first to measure the rate of this decay and found that the half life of 14C was 5568 years, i.e., in 5568 years half the 14C in the original sample will have decayed. After another 5568 years, half of that remaining material will have decayed, and so on. A 14C half-life of 5568 ± 30 years is known as the Libby half-life. Later measurements of the Libby half-life indicated the figure was approximately 3% lower; a more accurate half-life was 5730 ± 40 years. This value is known as the Cambridge half-life.
After 10 half-lives, there is a small amount of radioactive carbon left in a sample. In about 50,000-60,000 years, therefore, the limit of this technique is reached. It must be emphasised that the 14C decay is constant and spontaneous. In other words, the probability of decay for an atom of 14C in a sample is constant, thus making it amenable to the application of statistical methods for the analysis of counting data.
MEASUREMENT TECHNIQUES AND CALIBRATION
There are two techniques to measure the radiocarbon content (i.e., 14C) in samples – radiometric dating and Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS). Radiometric dating method detects β particles from the decay of 14C atoms (see the equation of decay in the above section). On the other hand, accelerator mass spectrometers count the number of 14C atoms present in the test sample. Needless to say, both these carbon dating methods have advantages and disadvantages. Due to its numerous advantages such as small sample size, faster analysis and high precision, AMS is the most widely used radiocarbon dating method. Just like other mass spectrometry studies, AMS is performed by converting the a few milligrams of test sample into graphite. This is pressed on to a metal disc. The reference materials are also pressed likewise. These metal discs are then mounted on a target wheel and it is here they are analyzed in sequence. The test and reference samples on the target wheel are (sequentially) ionised by bombarding them with caesium ions resulting in the production of negatively ionized carbon atoms. These ionized carbon atoms are focused into a fast-moving beam. The ions then enter the accelerator. The accelerator is used to help remove ions that might be confused with 14C ions before the final detection. The ions are filtered and finally the 14C ions enter the detector where they can be counted. In AMS, the 14C atoms are directly detected instead of waiting for them to undergo β decay as in Gas Proportional Counting (GPC) or Liquid Scintillation Spectrometry (LSS). Therefore, the sample sizes are typically very small, generally in the order of a few milligrams.
The 14C concentration measured either by radiometric dating or AMS techniques provides information about the time elapsed since the time of death or deposition. The activity of 14C can be measured by counting of β particles emitted by decaying 14C using radiometric dating or by measuring the 14C/12C ratio using AMS. Both methods allow the dating of natural carbon-bearing material. After death or deposition, the equilibrium between uptake from the environment (atmosphere, ocean, lake) and 14C decay is broken. Since new 14C atoms cannot be incorporated by the organism, the activity begins to decrease with a half-life of 5730 years. Application of the decay law for radiocarbon dating is based on the assumption that that the activity of the organic matter after the death of the organism changes only due to radioactive decay.
Raw radiocarbon measurements are usually reported in years Before Present or BP. Before Present (BP) years are the units of time, counted backwards to the past, used to report raw radiocarbon ages and dates referenced to the BP scale origin in the year 1950 CE. There are two reasons as to why 1950 CE was established as the origin year for the BP scale. Firstly, in this year the calibration curves for carbon-14 dating were established and secondly, the year 1950 predates atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons, which altered the global balance of 14C to 12C (Atom Bomb Effect).
The radiocarbon measurements reported in terms of BP years is directly based on the proportion of radiocarbon found in the sample. Its calculation is based on the assumption that the atmospheric radiocarbon concentration has always been the same as it was in 1950. As we have noted earlier, this is not true. The 14C to 12C ratio varied by a few percent over time. It is now well known that 14C years do not directly equate to calendar years because of the variations in atmospheric 14C concentration through time due to changes in the production rate caused by geomagnetic and solar modulation of the cosmic-ray flux, and the carbon cycle. Therefore a calibration is required, which, to be accurate and precise, should ideally be based on an absolutely dated record that has carbon incorporated directly from the atmosphere at the time of formation. Calibration of radiocarbon determinations is, in principle, very simple. The radiocarbon measurement of a sample is compared with a tree ring with the same proportion of radiocarbon. Since the calendar age of the tree rings is known, this gives the age of the sample. In practice, there are limitations. The measurements on both the sample and the tree rings have a limited precision. This will give rise to a range of possible calendar years. Furthermore, since the atmospheric radiocarbon concentration has varied in the past, there might be several possible ranges.
‘PRECISION’ AND ‘ACCURACY’ IN RADIOCARBON DATING
In any scientific measurement, including the analytical 14C measurement, its repetition every time under identical conditions on an identical sample leads to a slightly different result. That is if a radiocarbon measurement is performed ten times on a single sample under (near) identical conditions, then the result obtained will have ten different values, with identical results occurring by chance. This scatter in the measurement data highlights the effects of small errors [Figure 1(a)]. Every individual experiment is influenced by small but uncontrollable changes in the measurement conditions or in the source material itself. To this, one must also add the fact that the radiocarbon decay itself is a random process which will also add minor errors. Such variation in values is interpreted as the effect of small but random errors, which themselves are varying. It is the variation in the group of replicate measurements that establishes the means to calculate the measurement uncertainty. Random error must be distinguished from a systematic error. The latter remains constant and cannot be reduced by doing repeated measurements. However, if the source of the systematic error can be identified, it can be eliminated. The error in a measurement consists of both random and systematic errors. The combined effect of these errors produce an uncertainty and it is calculated using statistical methods.
Figure 1: (a) When happens when a series of identical experiments on identical samples and under (near) identical conditions are carried out? The expectation is to get one single data value every time (left), however, the actual result is spread in the data due to random and systematic errors (right). The peak indicates the point where the mean of the data lies whilst the drooping curve gives an idea of the spread of data. (b) Graphical understanding of the terms precision and accuracy from the data obtained from experiments. (c) A schematic representation of precision and accuracy on a target.
Precision in measurement characterises the degree of agreement among a series of individual and independent measurements under identical conditions. On the other hand, the uncertainty of the measurement is often quoted as the 1σ or 2σ error. In statistics, standard deviation σ is a measure to quantify the amount of dispersion or variation of a set of data points. A smaller value of σ indicates that the data points tend to be close to the expected value or mean whilst a larger value indicates that the data points are dispersed over wider range of values. As the value of σ increases, precision decreases [Figure 1(b)]. A measurement uncertainty defines a range of values, and usually it is expressed as the interval "measurement ± 1σ" or "measurement ± 2σ". The actual interpretation of such ranges in terms of "confidence" depends on the probability distribution model chosen to model the error. For example, if the radiocarbon age of sample is 1500 years BP and has a measurement error of 10 years, the measurement uncertainty or the range of values for 1σ and 2σ would be 1500 ± 10 years and 1500 ± 20 years BP, respectively. In other words, 1σ away from the mean in either direction on the horizontal axis (blue area in Figure 2) accounts for somewhere around 68% "confidence" that the radiocarbon age is between 1490 to 1510 years BP. Going further, 2σ away from the mean (blue + green areas in Figure 2) account for roughly 95% "confidence" that the radiocarbon age is between 1480 to 1520 years BP. And 3σ (blue + green + yellow, i.e., all the shaded areas) account for about 99% "confidence" that the radiocarbon age is between 1470 to 1530 years BP. Summing the discussion, the true age of the sample is highly likely to lie within the measurement uncertainty or within the range.
Figure 2: Understanding the meaning of standard deviations 1σ, 2σ and 3σ using a normal distribution curve which has unimodal distribution (i.e., one single peak around which data is distributed symmetrically). However, calendar ages obtained from radiocarbon dating are quite complicated with multimodal distribution.
Figure 2 also gives an idea of what is probable and what is impossible. For example, 2σ accounts for 95% "confidence" concerning the data. Making it 3σ only increases the "confidence" to about 99% - a mere 4% increase that adds a measurement error σ on either side of the mean and extending the range of probable calendar dates. Physically, this increase in 4% "confidence" does not commensurate with an addition of measurement error σ, contrary to case of increase from 1σ (68% "confidence") to 2σ (95% "confidence").
In radiocarbon dating, the uncertainty in measurement comes from statistical error of counting atoms or β particles as well as uncertainty of the measuring standards and blank values included in the calculation of radiocarbon ages. As for the counting error, it can be reduced by improved counting statistics and is achieved by increasing counting time. In the AMS technique, this is usually limited by the sample size as well as performance and stability of the AMS device.
Accuracy describes the difference between the calculated radiocarbon and the true age of a sample. Measurement precision and accuracy are not linked and are independent of one another [Figure 1(c)]. Radiocarbon laboratories check their accuracy using measurements of known age samples. These can be either independently-known-age samples, or those for which a agreed uponage has been derived such as from an interlaboratory trial.
Both precision and accuracy in radiocarbon dating are highly desired properties. The precision of a 14C age is quantified with the associated quoted error, however, it should be borne in mind that the basis of the calculation of the error may be different depending on the laboratory. Through the use of repeated measurements of a homogeneous material, the estimated precision associated with a 14C age can be assessed indirectly.
However, in radiocarbon dating laboratories, such repeated measurements of a single sample of unknown age are often impossible. Consequently a radiometric laboratory will typically conduct numerous measurements of a secondary standard and use the variation in the given results to establish a sample-independent estimate of precision, which can then be compared with the classical counting error statistic, which is derived for each unknown-age sample. In other words, for a single measured radiocarbon age, the commonly quoted error is based on counting statistics and is used to determine the uncertainty associated with the 14C age. The quoted error will include components due to other laboratory corrections and is assumed to represent the spread we would see were we able to repeat the measurement many times.
We are now left with two more terms: Repeatability and reproducibility. The term repeatability refers to measurements made under identical conditions in a single laboratory, whilst reproducibility refers to measurements made in different laboratories and under different conditions. Both repeatability and reproducibility provide the closeness of agreement between the 14C ages under two different scenarios.
UNDERSTANDING THE RADIOCARBON DATING GRAPHICAL DATA
In order to have a better understanding of how the process of radiocarbon dating works, let us take the example of radiocarbon data from E20 manuscript, housed in the St. Petersburg branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies. A detailed history of this manuscript was published by Efim Rezvan in 2000. In the same year, he also published a radiocarbon dating of this manuscript, the results of which are depicted in Figure 3. The main elements of Figure 3(a) are as follows:
Figure 3: (a) The radiocarbon age of the sample, calibration using the tree rings and calendar time scale showing possible ages of the sample. (b) A calendar time scale curve showing the possible range of ages for the E20 manuscript.
In the case of this manuscript, the radiocarbon result is 1150 ± 50 BP. This indicates that the age is 1150 BP with a standard uncertainty of ±50 years. The age of 1150 BP is calculated using the simplistic assumption that the amount of radiocarbon in the atmosphere has always been the same. Earlier we have noted that this is not quite the case except that it is a rough indication of the age. Hence the measurement must be calibrated against samples of known ages, for example, the tree rings. The radiocarbon data and the calibration curve are used to plot the probability distribution of the age of the manuscript. In the case of the E20 manuscript from St. Petersburg, the 68.3% confidence level (1σ) yields the ranges, 781–791 CE, 825–843 CE, 859–903 CE and 915–977 CE. The 95.4% confidence level (2σ) yields 775–995 CE.
LIMITATIONS OF RADIOCARBON DATING
No technique is perfect and radiocarbon dating is no exception. Although with this technique almost any sample of organic material can be directly dated, it suffers from a number of limitations. The theory discussed below is summarized from here.
3. Carbon-14 Dating Of Qur'anic Manuscripts
Radiocarbon dating of Qur'anic manuscripts is very rare, though this is beginning to change. With the advent of the Corpus Coranicum project, carbon dating has been given pride of place with a specially named module Computatio Radiocarbonica. The aim here is to supplement traditional methods for dating the earliest Qur'anic manuscripts with modern scientific methods. It should be highlighted that when conducting radiocarbon analysis, almost any date within the specified range generated by the confidence level is equally possible scientifically. It is not the case that the range can be averaged to find the most probable date due to the fact that there usually exists a complex multi-modal probability distribution. Thus, given the wide range of calendar years, radiocarbon dating rarely provides unexpected information to an experienced palaeographer / codicologist; however this is not always the case as we will see next.
I. SOTHEBY'S 1993 / STANFORD 2007 - A PALIMPSEST MANUSCRIPT OF THE QUR'ĀN
A folio originally belonging to Codex Ṣanʿāʾ 1 was auctioned by Sotheby's (London) in the year 1993 (Lot 31) [Figure 4(a)]. Recently, radiocarbon dating was performed on this folio and the analysis was done at the Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) Laboratory at the University of Arizona. According to Sadeghi and Bergmann, the results indicate that the parchment has a 68% (1σ) probability of belonging to the period between 614 CE to 656 CE. It has a 95% (2σ) probability of belonging to the period between 578 CE and 669 CE [Figure 4(b)]. The carbon dating is applicable to the scriptio inferior text. The date which the scriptio superior text was written could be the first or second half of the 7th century or even the early 8th century (more generally the 1st century hijra).
Sotheby's 1993 / Stanford 2007, recto
Sotheby's 1993 / Stanford 2007, verso
Figure 4: (a) Sotheby's 1993 / Standford 2007 palimpsest folio and (b) its radiocarbon dating result.
Sadeghi highlights, “For historical reasons, however, what is of greater interest is the probability that the parchment is older than a certain date. … The probability that the parchment is older than AD 646 is 75.1%, or a three-to-one likelihood. It is highly probable therefore, that the Ṣanʿāʾ I manuscript was produced no more than 15 years after the death of the Prophet Muḥammad.” He concluded that the scriptio inferior text belonged to the period of the companions of Prophet Muḥammad, whilst the scriptio superior text belonged to the ʿUthmānic tradition, and using stemmatics, the ʿUthmānic tradition was shown to give the most accurate reproduction of the Prophetic prototype.
II. CODEX DAM 01-25.1 FROM ṢANʿĀʾ, YEMEN
Figure 5: Folios of Codex DAM 01-25.1.
Palaeographically, this ḥijāzī manuscript is datable to 1st century AH. Folio 22 of this manuscript was subject to radiocarbon analysis under the auspices of the ANR Project “De l’Antiquité tardive à l’Islam” (DATI, headed by Christian Robin) at the Centre de Datation par le Radiocarbone de Lyon, and has been radiocarbon dated to 543–643 CE with 95% probability.
III. A ḤIJĀZĪ MANUSCRIPT OF THE QUR'ĀN AT UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM
(a) Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572a, Folio 1r
(b) Arabe 328c, Folio 12v
Figure 6: Folios of (a) Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572a and Arabe 328c. Both these manuscripts belong to the same codex.
Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572a belongs to belongs to what is commonly known as the ‘Mingana Collection’. The core Mingana Collection, of manuscripts and manuscript fragments, was built up between 1924-29 through the common interest and energy of Dr. Edward Cadbury and Alphonse Mingana. Edward Cadbury, owner of family's chocolate factory at Bournville, sponsored Alphonse Mingana in three journeys to the Middle East, and subsequently engaged Mingana to catalogue much of the collection. The two folios of Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572a manuscript belong to the same codex as Arabe 328c. These folios have now been subjected to radiocarbon analysis at the University of Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit and have been dated to 568–645 CE with 95.4% probability.
IV. CODEX DAM 01-29.1 FROM ṢANʿĀʾ, YEMEN
Figure 7: Folios of Codex DAM 01-29.1.
Palaeographically, this ḥijāzī manuscript is datable to 1st century AH. Folio 13 of this manuscript was subject to radiocarbon analysis under the auspices of the ANR Project “De l’Antiquité tardive à l’Islam” (DATI, headed by Christian Robin) at the Centre de Datation par le Radiocarbone de Lyon, and has been dated to 603–662 CE with 68% probability.
V. A ḤIJĀZĪ MANUSCRIPT OF THE QUR'ĀN AT STAATSBIBLIOTHEK (BERLIN) & DĀR AL-KUTUB AL-MIṢRIYYA (CAIRO)
Ms. Qāf 47, Folio 15b
Ms. Or. Fol. 4313, Folio 21a
Figure 8: Folios of Ms. Qāf 47 and Ms. Or. Fol. 4313.
Ms. Qāf 47 and Ms. Or. Fol. 4313 belong to the same codex and are located at Dār al-Kutub al-Misriyya, Cairo, and Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Germany, respectively. Palaeographically, this ḥijāzī manuscript is dated to 1st century AH. This manuscript was subject to radiocarbon analysis under the auspices of the Corpus Coranicum project and has been dated to 606–652 CE with 95% probability.
VI. M a VI 165 - A ḤIJĀZĪ MANUSCRIPT OF THE QUR'ĀN AT TÜBINGEN
Figure 9: Folios (a) 1 recto and (b) 24 recto of Ms. M a VI 165 at the Universitätsbibliothek Tübingen, Germany.
Whilst serving in his position as first Prussian Consul to Damascus in the middle of the 19th century, Johann Gottfried Wetzstein made numerous acquisitions of ancient Arabic manuscripts, many of which belonged to the Qur'an. Wetzstein's acquisitions ended up in several collections across Germany, with this particular ḥijāzī manuscript now kept at the Universitätsbibliothek Tübingen, Germany. In his foreword to a small catalogue he published, Wetzstein said he hoped these more than 1,100 kufic folios of the Qur'an he had collected would be of some interest to those involved in palaeography and Qur'anic criticism, and gave a brief entry for M a VI 165. Weisweiler was the first person to give a brief description of this manuscript in his handlist of manuscripts at the Universitätsbibliothek Tübingen, Germany. Alba Fedeli cautiously attributed this manuscript to the 8th century CE and commented upon some of its variants. It has now been subject to radiocarbon analysis under the auspices of the Corpus Coranicum project and has been dated to 649–675 CE with 95.4% probability.
VII. THE AL-WALĪD MANUSCRIPT FROM ṢANʿĀʾ, YEMEN (INV. NO. 20-33.1)
This is perhaps one of the most well-studied Qur'anic manuscripts and comes from Dār al-Makhṭūtāt, Ṣanʿāʾ, Yemen. Hans-Caspar Graf von Bothmer from the University of Saarland, Germany, studied this manuscript in great detail from the point of view of script, ornamentation and illumination. It is one of the earliest known and firmly dated manuscript from the late 1st century of hijra written in the kufic script. This monumental Qur'anic manuscript originally had dimensions around 51 cm in length by 47 cm in width (Figure 10). Its origin appears to be from Syria.
Figure 10: A folio of the "Great Umayyad Qur'an" from Ṣanʿāʾ, (Yemen).
Using palaeography, ornamentation and illumination of this manuscript, von Bothmer dated it to the last decade of the 1st century of hijra, around 710–715 CE, in the reign of the Umayyad caliph al-Walīd. However, the radiocarbon dating of this manuscript suggests a date between 657 and 690 CE. An unpublished chemical test suggested a similar range of dates around 700-730 CE. Again he confirms the dating of this manuscript elsewhere by pointing out that:
Certain features of the manuscript and the iconography intimate that this work was made for a member of the Umayyad family; historical circumstances suggest that caliph al-Walid himself may have commissioned it. However, the carbon dating points to a slightly earlier date.
Here it is interesting to note that both the palaeographic considerations and radiocarbon dating have arrived at nearly the same conclusion, i.e., this manuscript dates to the last part of the 1st century of hijra. However, as von Bothmer has noted, the radiocarbon dating gives a slightly earlier date. This could be due to the fact that the radiocarbon dating gives the death of animal and not when the manuscript was actually written.
The interesting thing to note about this Qur'an from al-Walīd's time is its uncanny resemblance to a number of large Qur'anic manuscripts typified as "Group 2" by Estelle Whelan. The most famous of them is the Chester Beatty 1404. The Chester Beatty 1404 manuscript has very similar features that are reminiscent of the Umayyad period. Moritz published details of the twenty ornamented pages. This manuscript was dated to 1st century of hijra by A. S. Yahuda. Moritz, in the legends to his photographs, dated it to the 2nd / 3rd century hijra. On the other hand, Josef von Karabacek dated it to the 3rd century. However, now a firm dating of a Qur'an belonging to "Group 2" from al-Walīd's time suggests that the Chester Beatty 1404 manuscript also dates from similar period, i.e., either late first century or early second century of hijra. Furthermore, this also lends support to the early dating of the numerous primitive ḥijāzī manuscripts.
VIII. AN ‘UMAYYAD’ FRAGMENT OF THE QUR'ĀN
This privately-owned fragment of the Qur'an was published recently by Yasin Dutton [Figure 11(a)]. On the basis of palaeography and radiocarbon analysis, he dated it to the second half of the 1st century of hijra / late 7th or early 8th century CE.
Side B (detail)
Figure 11: (a) The 'Umayyad' fragment and (b) its radiocarbon dating.
The radiocarbon dating of the fragment was carried out at the University of Oxford [Figure 11(b)]. Two calibration data-sets, viz., INTCAL98 and INTCAL04, were used. The results are as follows.
Results with INTCAL98 calibration data-set: The radiocarbon age of 1363 ± 33 BP yielded a 68.2% probability that the parchment in question dates to between 647 and 685 CE (i.e., 26–66 AH), a 95.4% probability that it dates to between 610 and 770 CE (i.e., twelve years before the hijra to 153 AH), with that range being broken down into a 90.5% probability that it dates to between 610 and 720 CE (i.e., twelve years before the hijra to 102 AH) and a 4.9% probability that it dates to between 740 and 770 CE (i.e., 122–53 AH). This suggests, as the report from the University of Oxford Radiocarbon Acceleration Unit put it, that ‘it is most likely that the parchment was made between AD 610 and AD 720’, that is, broadly speaking, from some time within the first century of the hijra.
Results with INTCAL04 calibration data-set: Since the time of this test in 2001, a newer calibration data-set, INTCAL04, has yielded slightly narrower results for the same radiocarbon age (i.e., 1363 ± 33 BP), namely, a 68.3% probability that the parchment dates from 644–75 CE (i.e. 25–56 AH), and a 95.2% probability that it dates from either 609–94 CE (i.e., thirteen years before the hijra to 75 AH) (95.2%), or 702–6 CE (i.e., 83–7 AH) (0.006%), or 748–65 CE (i.e., 131–48 AH) (0.042%). It would therefore seem acceptable to revise the afore-mentioned estimate to read ‘it is most likely that the parchment was made between AD 609 and AD 694’, and therefore used for its present purpose some time in the first 75 years of the first century AH.
It is interesting to note that the results here lie within a rather narrow range of dates for the 95% probability level – 160 years for the INTCAL98 result, and 156 years for the INTCAL04 result. On the other hand, we have seen that the radiocarbon dating of the so-called ʿUthmānic codex from Tashkent yielded a wide 260 year range (595–855 CE) at the 95% probability level. Likewise, the test on E20 Qur'anic manuscript in St. Petersburg yielded a 220 year range (775–995 CE). In these two cases, neither of them help very much in establishing a narrow and possibly accurate date for these particular manuscripts.
This fragment is remarkably similar to two other published folios and it has been concluded that they all come from the same codex. The first folio MS 678 in the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, published by Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn al-Munajjid. The second folio comes from the collection of the Hartford Seminary, Connecticut (USA), which was put for auction by Sotheby's in 2004. It was also illustrated in a catalogue prepared by Sam Fogg to accompany an exhibition of Islamic calligraphy held at the Museum für Islamische Kunst, Berlin, in 2006. The main part of this codex is kept in Istanbul, Turkey, comprising 122 folios being Ms. TIEM 51 & 53.
IX. MS. R. 38 - A KUFIC MANUSCRIPT OF THE QUR'ĀN, MUSÉE NATIONAL D’ART ISLAMIQUE IN RAQQADA
Figure 12: A folio from Ms. R. 38.
This monumental Qur'an kept at the Musée National d’Art Islamique in Raqqada, comprises 210 folios, though several additional folios were acquired on the open market and are now located in Doha, Copenhagen and a private collection in America. Déroche relates this manuscript to four other 20 lines to a page manuscripts, viz., DAM 20-33.1, DAM 20-31.1, CBL Is. 1404 and DAM 01-29.2 in particular - suggesting a common period of attribution for both these manuscripts during the first half of the 8th century CE, namely toward the end of the Umayyad period sometime before 750 CE. This manuscript was subject to radiocarbon analysis at the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, and has been dated to 656–675 CE with 68% probability, and 648–691 CE with 95.6% probability.
X. A QUR'ANIC CODEX FROM ST. PETERSBURG, KATTA LANGAR, BUKHĀRĀ AND TASHKENT
Figure 13: A folio from the "Qur'an of ʿUthmān" (Manuscript E20) at the Institute of Oriental Studies, St. Petersburg, Russia showing the last part of Surah al-Sāffat (verses 158-182) and beginning of Surah Sād (verses 1-8).
The E20 manuscript, housed in the St. Petersburg branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies, comes from Uzbekistan (Figure 13). Here 68.3% confidence level (1σ) yielded the ranges, 781–791 CE, 825–843 CE, 859–903 CE and 915–977 CE. The 95.4 % confidence level (2σ) gave 775–995 CE. A palaeographic analysis of this manuscript proposed a date around the final quarter of the 8th century CE. This dating was also agreed by François Déroche. However, Alain George believes this to be an instance where the radiocarbon dating does not closely match the features of the manuscript. Commenting on the script and decoration, he suggests a date nearer the turn of the 1st century AH (late 7th, early 8th century CE).
XI. A ḤIJĀZĪ MANUSCRIPT OF THE QUR'ĀN AT LEIDEN, THE NETHERLANDS
Figure 14: Folios of (a) Leiden Or. 14.545b recto and (b) Leiden Or. 14.545c recto at the University Library, Leiden, the Netherlands.
Ms. Leiden Or. 14.545b and Leiden Or. 14.545c belong to the same manuscript as Arabe 331 that is located in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. They were purchased by the University Library of Leiden in 1979 from H. C. Jorissen, the former Dutch Ambassador to Beirut. Originally believed to date from the latter part of the 8th century, this manuscript has now been subject to radiocarbon analysis under the auspices of the Corpus Coranicum project and has been dated to 652–763 CE with 95.4% probability, with that range being broken down into a 89.3% probability that it dates to between 652 and 694 CE and a 6.1% probability that it dates to between 747 and 763 CE.
XII. KODEX WETZSTEIN II 1913 - A ḤIJĀZĪ MANUSCRIPT OF THE QUR'ĀN AT STAATSBIBLIOTHEK, BERLIN
Figure 15: Kodex Wetzstein II 1913 (a) Folio 54v, Sūrah al-Anfāl, verses 160-165 to Sūrah al-Aʿrāf, verses 1-9. (b) Folio 133v, Sūrah al-Nūr, 9-19.
Kodex Wetzstein II 1913 at Staatsbibliothek, Berlin, has 210 folios. The extant folios contain about 85% of the text of the Qur'an, thus making it one the earliest and almost complete ḥijāzī Qur'ans. This manuscript has been subject to radiocarbon analysis under the auspices of the Corpus Coranicum project and has been dated to 662–765 CE with 95.4% probability, with that range being broken down into a 72.8% probability that it dates to between 662 and 714 CE and a 22.6% probability that it dates to between 745 and 765 CE.
XIII. A MONUMENTAL QUR'ĀNIC MANUSCRIPT IN TASHKENT ATTRIBUTED TO CALIPH ʿUTHMĀN
Approximately one third of the Qur'an from which this massive folio originates - “the ʿUthmān Qur'an” - is housed in Tashkent, Uzbekistan (Figure 16). Late in the 19th century the manuscript was in St. Petersburg, Russia, where it was studied by the Russian orientalist A. N. Shebunin. He gave a detailed account of the codex and examined the peculiarities of its orthography. So great was the interest in this codex that in 1905 Pisarev (or Pissareff) was encouraged to publish a facsimile edition. It would appear that during this period in St. Petersberg, a number of folios were separated from this manuscript and over the years a number of folios have appeared under the hammer at auction or have been sold privately between collectors.
Figure 16: A folio from a massive Qur'an attributed to caliph ʿUthmān. It was found in North Africa.
This is a massive Qur'anic manuscript on vellum showing a well-formed kufic script without diacritical marks and ornamentation. The verse endings are marked by small panels of diagonals lines; the tenth verse is marked with a square medallion illuminated in blue, green, red and manganese with a stellar design. Shebunin dated this manuscript to the early second century hijra. On the basis of the orthography as observed in the 1905 facsimile edition prepared by S. I. Pisarev, Jeffery dated it to the early ninth century. More recently, Déroche had assigned a date to the second half of the eighth century, more specifically, under the patronage of the third Abbasid caliph Al-Mahdi (reigned 158–169 AH / 77 –785 CE). The carbon-dating of a folio from this manuscript was carried out at Oxford. The result showed a 68% probability of a date between 640 CE and 765 CE, and a 95% probability of a date between 595 CE and 855 CE. Commenting on this result, Rezvan noted that the palaeographic dating of this manuscript also indicated a date at the turn of the eight / ninth century CE.
XIV. MS. LEIDEN OR. 8264 - MANUSCRIPT OF THE QUR'ĀN WRITTEN ON PAPYRUS
Figure 17: The recto side of folio of manuscript Leiden Or. 8264 at the University Library, Leiden, the Netherlands.
This manuscript was privately acquired by C. van Arendonk (d. 1946) from Erik van Scherling, an antiquarian in Oegstgeest, who, in turn, may have brought the papyrus from Egypt. Van Arendonk was a curator of the Leiden Oriental collections. The papyrus comes apparently from a collection, either private or public, as there is a label pasted on the glass with the mark ‘A1’. Qur'ans written on papyrus are quite rare. This is because papyrus, unlike parchment, is not as durable a material for everyday use. Due to their fragile nature combined with regular use of the Qur'an, these manuscripts may not have survived. The recent radiocarbon dating of this papyrus under the auspices of the Corpus Coranicum project gave a date range of 653–766 CE with 95.4% probability. Noseda, who published this manuscript, noting some of its archaic features coming from 1st and 2nd centuries of hijra, strangely dated the folio to 3rd century AH / 9th century CE.
XV. CODEX LEIDEN OR. 6814 AT LEIDEN, THE NETHERLANDS
Figure 18: Codex Leiden Or 6814 showing Sūrah Al-Naml, verses 18-27.
Ms. Leiden Or. 6814 was purchased by the University Library of Leiden on the 10th June 1938 from Erik von Scherling, antiquarian in Oegstgeest. Two folios from this manuscript, consisting of 39 folios in total, were subject to radiocarbon analysis under the auspices of the Corpus Coranicum project and have been dated to 680–798 CE with 95.4% probability.
XVI. MS. SIG. ISL. 18 FROM STUTTGART, GERMANY
Figure 19: Ms. Sig. Is. 18 showing 8:72-9:2.
This privately-owned fragment of the Qur'an is unpublished and remains in the private collection of Professor Dr. Mark Mersiowsky, located in Stuttgart, Germany. This manuscript, consisting of one folio only, was subject to radiocarbon analysis under the auspices of the Corpus Coranicum project and has been dated to 690–877 CE with 95.4% probability.
XVII. MS. R. 20 - THE QUR'AN OF SAYYIDA UMM MALĀL, MUSÉE NATIONAL D’ART ISLAMIQUE IN RAQQADA
Figure 20: A folio from Ms. R. 20.
This Qur'an is written on 7 lines per page measuring on average 27.4 x 36.3 cm and originally would have had in the region of some 2,400 folios. Particularly interesting for our purposes is that this Qur'an contains a waqfiyyāt (endowment notice), giving a terminus ad quem of the beginning of the 5th century AH / 11th century CE, for its completion. As already noted by Déroche, the script clearly predates the waqfiyyāt by around two centuries. In order to check the reliability of radiocarbon analysis whilst also having the Qur'an scientifically dated, Déroche decided to send samples to two different laboratories. The Centre de Datation par le Radiocarbone de Lyon, dated the manuscript 650–764 CE with 95% probability and the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, 671–773 CE with 95% probability.
XVIII. MS. R. 64A - THE QUR'AN OF FAḌL, MUSÉE NATIONAL D’ART ISLAMIQUE IN RAQQADA
Figure 21: A folio from Arabe 5178m (belongs to Codex R. 64a), commonly known as the Qur'an of Faḍl.
This small Qur'an is written on 6 lines per page measuring on average just 10.2 x 14.7 cm, is kept at the Musée National d’Art Islamique in Raqqada, comprising several hundred folios extant under various shelf marks. The largest section is kept under shelfmark R. 64a. Additionally there are four other folios, Ms. Arabe 5178m, ff. 18-21, located at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris. Particularly interesting for our purposes is that this Qur'an contains a waqfiyyāt (endowment notice), giving a terminus ad quem of Muḥarram 295 AH / October - November 907 CE, for its completion. This manuscript was subject to radiocarbon analysis at the Centre de Datation par le Radiocarbone de Lyon, and has been dated to 716–891 CE with 95% probability.
XIX. MS. P. 227 - THE NURSE’S QUR'AN (MUṢḤAF AL-HADINAH), MUSÉE NATIONAL D’ART ISLAMIQUE IN RAQQADA
Figure 22: A folio from Ms. P. 227, commonly known as the Nurse's Qur'an.
This Qur'an is written on 5 lines per page measuring on average 44.5 x 30.0 cm and originally would have had in the region of some 2,800 folios. Numerous folios have been acquired on the open market and are scattered around the world in various public and private collections. Once again, particularly interesting for our purposes is that this Qur'an contains a waqfiyyāt (endowment notice) as well as a colophon allowing us to know that this particular manuscript was completed in 410 AH / 1020 CE, providing a terminus ad quem for its completion. The radiocarbon analysis was done at the Centre de Datation par le Radiocarbone de Lyon, and has been dated to 871–986 CE with 95% probability.
4. Reliability Of Radiocarbon Dating
Table I below provides a summary of radiocarbon dated manuscripts of the Qur'an that have been described and fully referenced in the previous section. Some manuscripts were dated several times to understand the accuracy of the process as well as to presumably check the location-dependent changes in dating that may be observed.
|Radiocarbon Dated Qur'anic Manuscripts|
|Manuscript||Radiocarbon Age, BP||Calendar Age, CE||Place of Radiocarbon Dating|
|1σ Confidence Level (68.3%)||2σ Confidence Level (95.4%)|
|Codex Ṣanʿāʾ I||1407 ± 36||614 - 656 CE||578 - 669 CE||AMS Laboratory, University of Arizona (USA)|
|–||–||606 - 649 CE||ETH, Zürich (Switzerland)|
|1437 ± 33||600 - 647 CE||566 - 657 CE||ETH, Zürich (Switzerland)|
|1423 ± 23||614 - 649 CE||595 - 658 CE||University of Oxford (UK)|
|1515 ± 25||537 - 596 CE||430 - 493 CE (20%); 530 - 611 CE (75.4%)||Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (Germany)|
|–||–||543 - 643 CE||Centre de Datation par le Radiocarbone de Lyon (France)|
|–||–||433 - 599 CE||Centre de Datation par le Radiocarbone de Lyon (France)|
|–||–||388 - 535 CE||Centre de Datation par le Radiocarbone de Lyon (France)|
|Codex DAM 01-25.1||–||–||543 - 643 CE||Centre de Datation par le Radiocarbone de Lyon (France)|
|Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572a||1456 ± 21||593 - 638 CE||568 - 645 CE||University of Oxford (UK)|
|Codex DAM 01-29.1||–||–||603 - 662 CE||Centre de Datation par le Radiocarbone de Lyon (France)|
|–||530 - 605 CE||439 - 606 CE||Centre de Datation par le Radiocarbone de Lyon (France)|
|Ms. Or. Fol. 4313||1423 ± 14||621 - 647 CE||606 - 652 CE||ETH, Zürich (Switzerland)|
|M a VI 165||1355 ± 14||655 - 657 CE||649 - 675 CE||ETH, Zürich (Switzerland)|
|"The Great Umayyad Qur'an"||–||–||657 - 690 CE||–|
|An Umayyad Fragment||1363 ± 33||644 - 675 CE||609 - 694 CE||University of Oxford (UK)|
|Ms. R. 38||–||656 - 675 CE||648 - 691 CE||Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (Germany)|
|E20||1150 ± 50||–||775 - 995 CE||Groningen Accelerator, The Netherlands|
|Leiden Or. 14.545b & Leiden Or. 14.545c||1329 ± 17||660 - 681 CE||652 - 694 CE (89.3%); 747 - 763 CE (6.1%)||ETH, Zürich (Switzerland)|
|Kodex Wetzstein II 1913||1307 ± 13||667 - 690 CE (53.3%); 750 - 761 CE (14.9%)||662 - 714 CE (72.8%); 745 - 765 CE (22.6%)||ETH, Zürich (Switzerland)|
|Tashkent Qur'an||–||640 - 765 CE||595 - 855 CE||University of Oxford (UK)|
|Leiden Or. 8264||–||–||653 - 766 CE||ETH, Zürich (Switzerland)|
|Leiden Or. 6814||–||–||680 - 798 CE||ETH, Zürich (Switzerland)|
|Ms. Sig. Is. 18||–||–||690 - 877 CE||ETH, Zürich (Switzerland)|
|Ms. R. 20 ("The Qur'an of Sayyida Umm Malāl")||–||–||650 - 764 CE||Centre de Datation par le Radiocarbone de Lyon (France)|
|–||–||671 - 773 CE||Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (Germany)|
|Ms. R. 64a ("The Qur'an of Faḍl")||–||–||716 - 891 CE||Centre de Datation par le Radiocarbone de Lyon (France)|
|Ms. P. 227 ("The Nurse's Qur'an")||–||–||871 - 986 CE||Centre de Datation par le Radiocarbone de Lyon (France)|
Table I: List of radiocarbon dated manuscripts of Qur'an. In some case, the BP years were utilized to calculate 1σ and 2σ confidence levels using IntCal 13 calibration.
Perhaps the most studied manuscript using carbon dating is Codex Ṣanʿāʾ I. As shown in Table I, it has been radiocarbon-dated in five different labs in five different countries. This also serves as a platform to independently verify the agreement on dating performed in various laboratories. Agreement between independent radiocarbon tests conducted at different laboratories is a very useful method for weeding out aberrations due to mishandling of samples. From the above Table, it is seen that the radiocarbon dating results from the labs in Arizona, Zürich, and Oxford show very close agreement. Interestingly, the dating at Zürich of two different folios gave very similar results. On the other hand, the dating carried out at the Centre de Datation par le Radiocarbone de Lyon in France on Codex Ṣanʿāʾ I shows three different dates - none of them agreeing with one another, with only one of them agreeing with the test results carried out in the labs of Arizona, Zürich, and Oxford. One may conclude that the radiocarbon tests completed at Lyon are suspect due to their irreproducibility. This conclusion is further strengthened by observing the test results at Zürich (566–657 CE), Oxford (595–658 CE) and Kiel (430–611 CE) were from a unified sample (i.e., resultant single gaseous substance) that generated the impossibly early result at Lyon (388–535 CE). Similar conclusions can be drawn about the testing done at the Christian-Albrechts-Universität at Kiel (Germany) which do not agree with those done at the labs in Arizona, Zürich, and Oxford, however, the former shows significant overlap of the calibrated dates with those obtained from the latter labs. From the above observations, it can be concluded that the dating of Codex Ṣanʿāʾ I shows excellent agreement and that radiocarbon dating is a reliable technique. It must come with a caveat that this is true only when performed in laboratories such as those in Oxford, Arizona, and Zürich that have experience and demonstrated competence with the handling of parchment.
The application of radiocarbon dating to early Qur'ans has also resulted in a raft of questionable, bizarre and even absurd hypotheses from non-scientists. It is not clear whether such attempts are to anchor their own chronological reconstruction of history or to construct a totally "new science" to extricate their version of history. We will examine some of these prominent hypotheses below.
CENSURING THE SCIENCE
Being well served by historians, is Qur'anic studies really in need of carbon dating? After all there are some major drawbacks to this method - it is very expensive and destructive. Other serious issues include the wide range of calendar years in which a manuscript could have been written. Scholars have successfully utilised "traditional" dating methods such as palaeography, codicology and art history that utilise script, format, ornamentation and illumination which are then compared, where possible, with their dated counterparts in architecture. In short, why bother?
Being a modern invention, some historians have become unduly skeptical in embracing radiocarbon dating. For example, François Déroche, one of the leading western specialists in the field of Qur'anic manuscripts, initially strikes a positive tone. Carbon dating, he says, “should not be neglected”, though the results of such analysis should be, “taken with caution”. Carbon dating, “helped answering the problem of dating early copies”, but, he warns, there are “limitations of this technique”. Déroche then uses two case studies which he thinks highlights the problems and limitations of this method. Two Qur'ans, both with endowment notices, were carbon dated by the Centre de Datation par le Radiocarbone de Lyon, France, and provided a range of dates that preceded the date given in the endowment notices by around 50 and 100 years, respectively. One is thus left with the overall impression that carbon dating, at least when applied in Qur'anic studies, produces unexpectedly early dates and is therefore inaccurate.
Whilst discussing the radiocarbon dating of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Gabriel Said Reynolds says,
It is also important to remember that the carbon dating of parchment is an imprecise science (something indicated by the large range of possible dates given for the various fragments).
An imprecise science does not follow the scientific method - the method that involves testing an idea and modifying the idea to fit the evidence. Radiocarbon dating utilizes the knowledge of the unstable nature of 14C with a precise half-life that makes it easy to measure, thus making it an absolute dating method. As a test, in 1949, Willard Libby and his team took samples of acacia from two ancient Egyptian Old Kingdom rulers and dated them. The results came back within what was then a reasonable range of 2800 ± 250 BCE years, where as the independent dates derived mostly from the dendrochronological records gave the date range 2625 ± 75 BCE years. Although their calculations were slightly incorrect due to not considering anthropogenic and heliogenic factors, the errors were discovered and this led to the development of more accurate methods and better calibration. Therefore, it is clear that radiocarbon dating is not based on some imprecise science, cooking up evidence to fit the idea or data. Needless to add, Willard Libby received a Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1960.
On the other hand, palaeography is a relative dating method which gives an order of events without giving an exact age. Thus, generally speaking, it cannot be used to pinpoint dates with high precision. Is palaeography a form of science? Commenting on the issues regarding the dating of inscriptions, William M. Schniedewind says:
The so-called science of paleography often relies on circular reasoning because there is insufficient data to draw precise conclusion about dating. Scholars also tend to oversimplify diachronic development, assuming models of simplicity rather than complexity.
In other words, palaeography can at best be termed as an inexact science, filled with uncertainties and imprecisions. It is not judicious to upscale palaeography for its reliability whilst, on the other hand, putting down radiocarbon dating for its alleged lack thereof. So, what is the general "rule of thumb" followed in dating manuscripts via palaeography?
This kind of precision dating defies the realities of scribal activity. The productive writing life of a scribe was probably around thirty or thirty-five years. Add to that the fact that the scribal profession was an apprenticed trade, with students learning a particular style from a teacher, and we find that a given hand may be present over multiple generations of scribes. Thus the "rule of thumb" should probably be to avoid dating a hand more precisely than a range of at least seventy or eighty years.
Let us now compare this "rule of thumb" of at least a range of 70 to 80 years used in palaeography for dating a manuscript, with that of radiocarbon ages obtained for Codex Ṣanʿāʾ I as shown in Table I. It is noticed that the uncertainty in age for this parchment ranges from ± 23 to ± 36 years, which amounts to an individual data spread of 46 and 72 years, respectively, with respect to the radiocarbon age. Here only the radiocarbon data obtained from the labs in Arizona, Zürich, and Oxford are taken into account as they show close agreement and are considered scientifically reliable. Converting the radiocarbon ages to calendar ages slightly increases the range, up to a maximum of about 90 years at the 2σ confidence level (95.4%). This is comparable with the "rule of thumb" of at least a range of 70 to 80 years used in palaeography for dating a manuscript. Unlike radiocarbon dating, it is worth noting that a range of 70 to 80 years used in palaeography has no confidence level attached to it. Just as this range is the "rule of thumb", some biblical scholars consider approximately a 100 year range being equal to a 95% "confidence level" in palaeography. Of course, palaeography when considered scientifically is inexact, so is this arbitrary choice of "confidence level". The choice of whether to believe in such a "confidence level" is entirely up to an individual.
Whilst comparing the radiocarbon dating results of Codex Ṣanʿāʾ I with Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572a (at Birmingham), Reynolds says:
In any case, the Birmingham results suggest that Lyon might not have botched the job after all. Intriguingly, the first date range from Lyon (543–643) corresponds rather closely to the date range given (from a laboratory in Oxford) for the Birmingham manuscript (568–645).
What is telling here is the fact that Reynolds, instead of using a scientific approach to look at the problem, applies his own reasoning that must necessarily accord with his preferred historical interpretation. With regard to the dating of Codex Ṣanʿāʾ I carried out at the Centre de Datation par le Radiocarbone de Lyon in France, Table I shows three different dates, none of them agreeing with one another. How does one make a rational choice as to which date, if any, out of these three is correct? The answer is that there is no way of knowing if Lyon botched the job unless these three dates are independently compared with those obtained from other labs. Furthermore, in order to further his belief that Lyon did not botch the job, Reynolds compares the date range 543–643 CE obtained for Codex Ṣanʿāʾ I at Lyon with the date range 568–645 CE obtained for Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572a at Oxford and claims a close correspondence between these two different manuscripts. But why pick and chose 543–643 CE instead of the 433–599 CE or 388–535 CE ranges obtained for Codex Ṣanʿāʾ I at Lyon? Reynolds makes no attempt to use the scientific method here.
Taking a similar line to Reynolds, Stephen Shoemaker makes the blanket assertion that the radiocarbon dating of Codex Ṣanʿāʾ I, Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572a and M a VI 165 does not work "accurately". He says,
Nevertheless, the dating of these manuscripts has proven to be highly problematic and controversial. Suffice to say that the process of radiocarbon dating does not seem to be working accurately on these materials. For instance, one such manuscript, now in Birmingham, England, has been given a date range that places it before Muhammad began his religious movement. While the possibility that the Qur’an actually predated Muhammad is not entirely out of the question, the dating of this manuscript is most likely inaccurate, as are the early datings of the manuscripts in Tübingen, Leiden, and Yemen.
It is not clear as to why the radiocarbon dating of these manuscripts is inaccurate. Furthermore, how does Shoemaker know that the dating is inaccurate? Has he got independent, consistent and reliable radiocarbon data of each of these manuscripts which can prove his case? On the contrary, we have seen in the earlier section that the radiocarbon dating results of Codex Ṣanʿāʾ Ifrom three independent labs, viz., in Arizona, Zürich, and Oxford show very close agreement thus establishing the reliability of the technique. It is worthwhile pointing out that when applied to parchments in fields other than Qur'anic studies, radiocarbon dating has yielded results that are "generally... in good agreement with paleographical estimates or known ages".
Labelling said results as “sensationalist findings”, Shoemaker does not provide a single scientific reference, or even any comprehensive scientific discussion, when he concludes that radiocarbon dating conducted in different labs around the world, “ … does not seem to be working accurately on these materials.” The results of said tests are summarily dismissed with an incomplete scientific explanation and reference to unknown and named person(s). Shoemaker says the Qur'an could predate Muhammad but elsewhere his radical reinterpretation of Islam's origins necessitates he cannot accept a date for the codification (i.e., standard text) of the Qur'an any earlier than during ʿAbd al-Malik's reign (c. 685 - 705 CE). Such contradictory views are not entirely unexpected. For him the Qur'an can predate or antedate Muhammad; that it could coincide is not a consideration.
VARIATION IN 14C CONTENT AT THE WHIMS OF LOCAL CLIMATIC CONDITIONS?
Commenting on the unexpectedly early dates assigned to samples from Codex Ṣanʿāʾ I by the Centre de Datation par le Radiocarbone de Lyon, France, Déroche says,
Here the problem may lie with the conditions (arid or semi-arid climate) under which the cattle, the hides of which were later turned into parchment, was raised.
Thus, according to his view, the arid or semi-arid climate in which the parchment for Qur'anic manuscripts were produced does not lend itself to accurate radiocarbon dating. There are numerous problems with this view. As we had noted earlier, radiocarbon 14C is produced via the cosmogenic process and this happens at stratospheric altitudes of 9 to 15 km above the surface of the Earth. In general, the cosmic rays flux remains constant and observed fluctuations in production rate of 14C are controlled by geomagnetic field strength and solar activity. Thus seasonal changes and presence of moisture on the surface of the Earth have no effect on the production rate of 14C. What about the variation of decay of radiocarbon 14C due to the chemical environment around the atom? Although there exists a theoretical possibility of changes in α and β decay rates, theory also predicts that such changes would be too small to affect dating methods. Under certain environmental conditions, the decay characteristics of 14C (which decays by β emission) do deviate slightly from the ideal random distribution predicted by theory, but changes in the decay constant have not been detected. Furthermore, studies on radioactive beryllium 7Be showed that its decay rate depended on the electron density at the nucleus, and therefore, may vary with the chemical environment around the beryllium atom. The observed difference in radioactive decay can be as much as 1.5%. Thus, the variation of just a percentage or so, is much too small to affect Earth's overall time scale and consequently the radiocarbon dating itself.
NORTHERN VS. SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE - HEMISPHERICAL VARIATION OF RADIOCARBON CONTENT
Whilst criticizing the recent radiocarbon results of manuscripts from Birmingham, Tübingen, Leiden, and Yemen, Shoemaker says:
If one were to instead use the data from the southern hemisphere (and we are talking about Arabia here), I am told by those more expert in this procedure than me that very different datings would result.
To begin with, Arabia is not in the Southern Hemisphere. It is situated in the Northern Hemisphere between the latitudes 12.6º N and 31.9º N, which correspond to the lowest point of the Arabian Peninsula and Amman, the capital of Jordan, respectively. The Tropic of Cancer at 23.5º N divides the Arabian Peninsula roughly into two halves. As for the global atmospheric radiocarbon content, it is controlled by several factors such as climatic changes, oceanic circulation, solar output and geomagnetic variability. Studies have noted that due to the poor atmospheric mixing across the Equator, pre-industrial Southern Hemisphere radiocarbon samples are typically several decades older than Northern Hemisphere counterparts. It has been demonstrated that Southern Hemisphere samples have lower 14C contents. This interhemispheric radiocarbon offset has traditionally been considered to be the result of the larger ocean surface area in the Southern Hemisphere and high-latitude deep water formation. Recent studies also indicate that El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) also plays a significant role in bringing about this offset.
The question now is how much older are the radiocarbon samples from the Southern Hemisphere compared to the Northern Hemisphere? Decadal 14C measurements on dendrochronologically secure New Zealand kauri, covering the period 195 BCE - 1845 CE, produces a mean inter-hemispheric offset of 44 ± 17 years using the IntCal09 calibration. In other words, the radiocarbon samples from Southern Hemisphere are found to be older, on an average, by 44 ± 17 years as compared to the ones from the Northern Hemisphere. Furthermore, it is not surprising that the calibration data set for the Northern Hemisphere (IntCal series) is different from that of the Sourthern Hemisphere (SHCal series), and that these are frequently updated to fine tune the respective calibration curves. Notwithstanding the fact that Arabia lies firmly in the Northern Hemisphere and that radiocarbon dating of manuscripts take into account the IntCal calibration, even if we add the mean inter-hemispheric offset of 44 ± 17 years to the calendar dates of manuscripts from Birmingham, Tübingen, Leiden, and Yemen, the result would still be very similar. That is, these manuscripts are from 1st century of hijra.
CALIBRATION RIDDLE - OR IS IT?
Shoemaker's argument against radiocarbon dating shifts from raising the inter-hemispheric offset to intra-hemispheric changes in radiocarbon content. He says,
The problem, it would seem, is that radiocarbon dating in the medieval period is only accurate when it can be calibrated by tree ring data, particularly from oak trees. Such data is wanting for the medieval Mediterranean or Near East, and the data from the northern hemisphere that has been used to calibrate these tests was taken from Ireland and North America.
There are several inaccuracies in the above set of statements. The work of the Aegean Dendrochronology Project started in 1970s and since then it has continued since to build the long tree-ring chronologies for the eastern half of the Mediterranean. Its aim was to make scientific sense of the Aegean and Near Eastern chronology from the Neolithic Age to the present. Over the last 40 years or so, the Aegean Dendrochronology Project had surveyed sites in Turkey, Yugoslavia, Greece, Italy, Egypt, Lebanon, and Israel / Palestine.[109-118] Notable recent developments are the construction of a 2367-year oak-tree-ring chronology from 97 sites from the Aegean, East Mediterranean, and Black Seas. A survey of what was achieved in this multi-decade long project was made by Kuniholm in 1996 in the form of a bar graph depicting Aegean tree-ring chronologies obtained using various species along with sites sampled and dated by the Aegean Dendrochronology Project as of the Fall of 1995. In subsequent years, it was updated by the Cornell Tree-Ring Laboratory. The most recent state (as of late 2015) of the Aegean tree-ring chronology is shown in Figure 23 which also appeared in a slightly expanded form in 2015. Comparing the survey from late 1995 to that of late 2015, it is seen that Aegean tree-ring chronology was already highly advanced in 1995 with tree-ring data from oak trees covering the time frame just before the advent of Islam until today.
Figure 23: The state of Aegean tree-ring chronologies as of late 2015. This is an update of the bar graph published in 1996. Less common species such as boxwood and yew are removed in this plot. Source: Aegean Dendrochronology Project.
Now that we have established the fact that the dendrochronological data from oak trees among others already exist, let us now look into the issue of calibration. Shoemaker says that since the calibration is done using the tree-ring data from Ireland and North America, it can't be trusted for dating medieval Mediterranean and Near East samples. The tacit assumption of his claim is that the chronology derived from the tree-ring data from Ireland and North America is very different from what is obtained from the Mediterranean and Near East samples. One of the fundamental tenets of radiocarbon dating is that within each hemisphere there was sufficient mixing of the pre-industrial atmosphere to allow the use of a universal 14C calibration dataset. This prerequisite is supported by radiocarbon measurements[121,122] as well as General Circulation Models (GCM). However, some studies have reported location-dependent 14C difference that are significant enough to affect high resolution radiocarbon dating. In order to investigate and understand such location-dependent changes in 14C with reference to the accurate and precise employment of radiocarbon dating, the East Mediterranean Radiocarbon Comparison Project (EMRCP) was established. Several studies have reported that "there is no systematic bias to Mediterranean 14C ages" with "prehistoric tree-ring record produced over 3 decades by the Aegean Dendrochronology Project is shown to provide robust, well-replicated data", and consequently, "generally Aegean and East Mediterranean samples can be used with the standard mid-latitude northern hemisphere calibration datasets (the IntCal curves)".
On the issue of calibration, it must be mentioned that the dendrochronological database for the IntCal04 curve is largely similar to the dataset of the IntCal98 curve, but also includes new measurements for the Iron Age period, for example, German Oak samples run for the East Mediterranean Radiocarbon Comparison Project. A trial run of the model against the IntCal04 calibration curve gave essentially similar results, albeit that the dates become slightly older. The datasets used in IntCal13 are available here.
Reynolds, on the other hand, claimed that the dating of Dead Sea Scrolls may be considered more accurate than the dating of manuscripts of Qur'an. His reasoning is as follows:
What is more, the dating of the Dead Sea Scrolls might be considered more accurate than the dating of the Qur’an manuscripts, since fragments from many different samples of the scrolls – and even samples from other materials found at Qumran (including a piece of leather and a scrap of linen) have been tested. This allows scientists to calibrate their measurements more precisely. Such calibration has not yet been possible for Qur’an manuscripts.
This is entirely erroneous. The tree ring atmospheric radiocarbon calibration data set spanning 0 to 12,410 years BP is used (Figure 23). It is superior to all other atmospheric radiocarbon calibration data due to the number and quality of the radiocarbon measurements and the accuracy and precision of the tree dendrochronology.
Figure 24: Schematic diagram of IntCal04 and Marine04 calibration data set construction. Tree-ring data, which is our interest and used in IntCal04 calibration curve, extends from 0 to 12.4 cal kyr BP. The IntCal09 uses a similar data set.
Said scraps of linen and piece of leather are dated using the standard calibration data set. These objects themselves can't be used as calibration standards, for their actual age itself is unknown! It appears that Reynolds does not properly comprehend how radiocarbon calibration curves are constructed.
BLUE SKY POSSIBILITIES
Strained, arbitrary and impossible interpretations of science, in our case of the science of radiocarbon dating, can lead to endless possibilities, i.e., a scenario where anything is possible. We have already seen specific examples in the above sub-sections. Here we are going to deal with historical constructions (or possibilities) that have been put forth which are a result of interpretations of radiocarbon dating, more specifically of the Mingana folios at Birmingham. Commenting on the early radiocarbon dating of Codex Ṣanʿāʾ I, Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572a and M a VI 165, Efim Rezvan says:
The very early radiocarbon dating of Mingana Qur’ānic folios from the Birmingham University Library as well as of the famous Ṣanʿāʾ palimpsest and Qur’ān fragment from the University of Tübingen Library – before the reign of ‘Uthmān – casts doubt on both the Islamic tradition as well as the scholarly theory of the history of the Qur’ānic text's fixation. Thus, today we should explain the gap of at least 50–70 years between stocking of the blank parchment and its use for the copying of the texts of the Qur’ān. Parchment was an expensive material (the skin of the entire animal was used to produce the big folio). Monastic and state scriptoria, located on the territory of Greater Syria (al-Shām), Antiochia, al-Hira and Alexandria areas, could store this valuable material (including the donations of the pious laity). These stocks became part of the loot captured by the Arabs in the first years of the conquest. Captured leaves were used for writing the Qur’ān. To test this hypothesis, it is necessary to reread the existing historical sources dedicated to the first years of the Arab conquests.
In essence, one is asked to believe in the fantastic hypothesis that the people of Greater Syria among other places stocked already prepared blank parchment and were eagerly awaiting the advent of Islam and Arab conquests in order to hand them willingly this valuable possession. In essence one is to believe unused parchment had been left for 50-70 years(!) to be used as part of a new codex whose value, in modern terms, was the same price as a small house. Why would the seller(s) expend an enormous amount of time, money and effort to prepare a multitude of blank parchment with no customer or no prospect of a customer? This in itself is self-contradictory and it assumes a thriving market. Additionally, if a client could afford to have such a codex constructed, why would one rely on parchment that is 50-70 years old? Rich patrons presumably could afford brand new parchment, given the likely deterioration of prepared stocked parchment that is 50-70 years old.
Did the new rulers and their subjects need recourse to stocked parchment? We are not aware of any example in early Islamic history where the Muslims were unable to execute a writing project because of the lack of prepared stocked parchment. Common sense dictates if the Muslims desperately needed parchment to write on, they could have simply requested already used parchment, religious or otherwise, scraped it clean and started writing. All of the preceding assumes the existence and logical necessity of prepared stocked parchment that is 50-70 years old. Rezvan cites no historical sources supportive of his hypothesis, and, as far as we are aware, there is no recorded instance around the time of late antiquity of prepared blank parchment being stored for 50-70 years.
Rezvan states he selected the range of 50-70 years so as to comply with his understanding of the radiocarbon dates and how they relate to the reign of ʿUthman. Unfortunately, his misunderstanding of the radiocarbon date range has resulted in him adopting an ad hoc randomly generated number range to satisfy his hypothesis retrospectively.
Unlike Rezvan who formulated a new hypothesis in order to explain his (mis)understanding of the radiocarbon date range where it pre-dates the reign of ʿUthman, Reynolds, who likewise misunderstands the radiocarbon date range, instead believes the Qur'an may very well date earlier, possibly much earlier than the reign of ʿUthman. He concludes,
The upshot of all of these early dates is that the Qur’an may very well date earlier than Uthman, possibly much earlier. It may be time to rethink the story of the Qur’an’s origins, including the traditional dates of Muhammad’s career. In other words, what observers have celebrated as something like evidence of the traditional story of Islam’s origins... may actually be, when considered carefully, evidence that the story of Islam’s origins is quite unlike what we have imagined.
Reynolds has expended a not inconsiderate amount of effort explaining, identifying and at times advocating John Wansbrough's theories, including Wansbrough's now abandoned theory of a late compilation of the Qur'an. Ironically, instead of the Qur'an being hundreds of years later than scholars expected, Reynolds now suggests it may be hundreds of years earlier. There is not the slightest hint of historical context that necessitates the wholesale re-writing of the Late Antiquity, including nascent religious movements, inter-religious dynamics, Arabic palaeography, codicology, scribal culture and book culture. This kind of irresponsible flip-flopping is unlikely to benefit the field of Qur'anic studies and leaves the author's stated position on this most important issue confused and uncertain.
THE METHODOLOGICAL UPSHOT
There is an important methodological principle to be observed here. Just as one would not discount the field of palaeography / codicology when a practitioner provides incorrect information, one can likewise not discount the method of carbon dating when one of its practitioners (i.e., laboratories) produces incorrect information. For example, Déroche reveals he did not realise Ms. Arabe 328a and Ms. Arabe 328b were from the same manuscript and described them separately in his catalogue of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. With the benefit of further examination and additional evidence, he has since revised his views and now considers them as emanating from the same manuscript. It would be sheer folly to discount the field of palaeography / codicology, highlighting an incorrect piece of information given by one of its most talented members, who initially did not link these manuscripts together. Even more foolhardy would be using this result to impugn the results of other palaeographers / codicologists working on other manuscripts. One must be very careful not to make assumptions and generalisations on the basis of a few tests. As described in the previous section, sample pretreatment is absolutely critical if one wants to obtain the most accurate measurements. Just as one would seek out the most talented palaeographers to date a script, one should also seek out the most competent laboratories to carbon date parchment manuscripts. Unexpected or impossibly early results given by a laboratory could well be the result of faulty handling / preparation either by the laboratory where the sample was processed, and / or by the persons involved in the collection of the sample.
Who then should have the final say in matters relating to dating? According to Déroche, “the last word should stay with the philologist, the historian or the palaeographer”. This begs the question: should scholars involved in dating the earliest Qur'anic manuscripts rely on a single specialism? It may seem what is at stake here is the historian's craft. Spending decades honing skills learnt from masters in the field, it is only natural to encounter some pushback against a recently developed detached scientific method, especially when it appears to undermine commonly accepted historical paradigms. However, there need not be any confrontation. The historian's toolbox should be expansive and willing to encompass any techniques which have been proven useful, even though the technique may be unfamiliar, or the underlying process not entirely understood. One of the great benefits and advantages of radiocarbon dating is that scholarly prejudice and pre-suppositions about the genesis of Arabic scripts and Qur'anic manuscripts are not factored into the calculation. It cannot, however, be seen as disadvantageous or faulty when it appears to clash with one's own chronological reconstruction. A collaborative approach that makes full use of scientific tests whilst remaining anchored in time tested traditional historical methods is more likely to provide the most fruitful results.
The invention of radiocarbon dating has been revolutionary for the humanities. It is perhaps one of the most widely used and best known absolute dating methods and has become an indispensable part of an archaeologist's tool-kit. Radiocarbon dating has been successfully applied to parchment and papyrus manuscripts of the Qur’an, with the first such test being published almost twenty five years ago in 1992. One of the great benefits and advantages of this method of dating is that scholarly prejudice and pre-suppositions regarding the genesis of Arabic scripts and Qur'anic manuscripts are not factored into the calculation. Nevertheless, one of the downsides are the potential large time intervals which do not prove very useful in dating manuscripts very precisely, though this has been mitigated somewhat by the year on year improvement in accuracy and precision.
At the outset when this technique was being considered for application to the Qur'an, specialists were rightly cautious and skeptical regarding the usefulness of the expected results. Writing in 1985, Gerd-R. Puin pointed out radiocarbon dating had results scattered over a large time period, sometimes spanning a few hundred years. He suggested the "traditional" methods of Arabic palaeography were more precise and offered a smaller range for dating Qur'anic manuscripts. These and related sentiments were shared by a number of other scholars of his time, such as Efim Rezvan and his colleague Hans-Casper Graf von Bothmer.
Since then much progress has been made in the intervening thirty years. One can take a positive view of the science and see in the interpretation of its results an avenue of further enquiry into the examination of Islamic Origins. For example, Patricia Crone cited radiocarbon dating of an early Qur'anic manuscript as the breakthrough reason for revising her view on the compilation and transmission of the Qur'an, asserting there can now be no doubt ʿUthman convened a committee to produce a standardised text, exactly what the tradition says. On an organisational level, Corpus Coranicum have embraced radiocarbon dating and are involved in a worldwide effort to carbon date Qur'anic and Islamic manuscripts - the preliminary results are very promising.
Of course, radiocarbon dating was not developed as a tool to advance the traditional account of the compilation and transmission of the Qur'an, though this is the impression one may be left with reading certain scholarly articles and popular level works written by scholars. When the test results do not conform with one's own historical reconstruction, one should not resort to ‘censuring the science’ - for want of a better phrase. Faulty understanding of the scientific principles underpinning this radiometric dating technique have caused some modern scholars working in Islamic Studies to imagine improbable and sometimes absurd hypotheses. Some seem to suggest the wholesale dismissal of this technique. Others that this technique doesn't work for the Qur'an. Flowing from this are a series of misunderstandings resulting in false assertions and scientific inaccuracies. Key terms such as probability, accuracy and precision are found to be poorly understood. A common feature of all of these criticisms, at present without exception, is that not a single scientific study is cited in support of such views. Instead we are treated to a mish-mash of pseudo-scientific discussions occasionally referencing unnamed and unknown persons who apparently provided certain scientific information. Some of the discussion is strained to coincide with the authors preferred historical reconstruction.
Our discussion points to the fact that even though the palaeographic and radiocarbon results usually match each other, the scientific method of radiocarbon dating can assist in generating and informing the debate regarding the chronology of Qur'anic manuscripts. In fact, more than twenty years ago similar conclusions were reached for the Dead Sea Scrolls using radiocarbon and palaeographic datings. It must be emphasised that radiocarbon dating does not aim to replace the traditional time-tested method of palaeography. The radiocarbon method can only supplement, and at times complement, the "traditional" palaeography and is gaining prominence in dating. As the accuracy and precision of radiocarbon dating improves with every passing year, one would be wise to take heed of Blair's insistence on utilising a more comprehensive approach than is currently the case, insisting that the adoption of multi-disciplinary sophistication will help to solve the disputes on dating early Qur'anic manuscripts.
And Allah knows best!
References & Notes
 W. F. Libby, E. C. Anderson & J. R. Arnold, "Age Determination By Radiocarbon Content: World-Wide Assay Of Natural Radiocarbons", Science, 1949, Volume 109, pp. 227-228; J. R. Arnold & W. F. Libby, "Age Determination By Radiocarbon Content: Checks With Samples Of Known Age", Science, 1949, Volume 110, pp. 678-680.
 R. E. Taylor, Radiocarbon Dating: An Archaeological Perspective, 1987, Academic Press, Inc.: Orlando (FL), pp. 169-170. The text of the 1960 Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded to Willard F. Libby for development of the 14C dating technique is given on p. 170.
 ibid., p. 6.
 ibid., pp. 7-9.
 ibid., p. 98.
 ibid., p. 9.
 ibid., p. 9.
 ibid., pp. 90-95.
 ibid., pp. 86-90.
 M. Stuiver & H. A. Polach, "Discussion: Reporting Of 14C Data", Radiocarbon, 1977, Volume 19, No. 3, pp. 355-363.
 H. de Vries, "Atomic Bomb Effect: Variation Of Radiocarbon In Plants, Shells, And Snails In The Past 4 Years", Science, 1958, Volume 128, pp. 250-251; Also see R. E. Taylor, Radiocarbon Dating: An Archaeological Perspective, 1987, op. cit., pp. 37-38.
 This sub-section has been compiled and summarized from E. M. Scott, G. T. Cook & P. Naysmith, "Error And Uncertainty In Radiocarbon Measurements", Radiocarbon, 2007, Volume 49, pp. 427-440, esp. p. 435. Our Figures 1(c) & 2 are based on Figures 4 & 2, respectively
 ibid., pp. 435-436.
 E. A. Rezvan, "Yet Another Uthmanic Qur'an (On The History Of Manuscript E 20 From The St. Petersburg Branch Of The Institute Of Oriental Studies", Manuscripta Orientalia, 2000, Volume 6, No. 1, pp. 49-68.
 E. A. Rezvan, "On The Dating Of An Uthmanic Qur'an From St. Petersburg", Manuscripta Orientalia, 2000, Volume 6, No. 3, pp. 19-22.
 ibid., pp. 20 and 21.
 R. E. Taylor, Radiocarbon Dating: An Archaeological Perspective, 1987, op. cit., pp. 16-34.
 H. E. Suess, "Radiocarbon Concentration In Modern Wood", Science, 1955, Volume 122, pp. 415-417.
 Oriental Manuscripts And Miniatures, Friday 22nd October 1993 (Catalogue No. 93561), Sotheby's: London, pp. 18-23 (Lot 31). This leaf immediately precedes the leaf described in the previous Sotheby's auction containing the verses 2:264-277.
 B. Sadeghi & U. Bergmann, "The Codex Of A Companion Of The Prophet And The Qurʾān Of The Prophet", Arabica, 2010, Volume 57, pp. 348-354.
 ibid., p. 344. Including this folio, several other folios of this manuscript have been carbon tested at a total of five different laboratories worldwide. With the exception of an impossibly early date given by one lab, they are in general agreement. See, C. J. Robin, "L’Arabie Dans Le Coran. Réexamen De Quelques Termes À La Lumière Des Inscriptions Préislamiques", in F. Déroche, C. J. Robin & M. Zink (Eds.), Les Origines Du Coran, Le Coran Des Origines, 2015, Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres: Paris, p. 65. A further carbon test is given by Corpus Coranicum here.
 B. Sadeghi & U. Bergmann, "The Codex Of A Companion Of The Prophet And The Qurʾān Of The Prophet", Arabica, 2010, op. cit., p. 353.
 ibid., pp. 344-347.
 C. J. Robin, "L’Arabie Dans Le Coran. Réexamen De Quelques Termes À La Lumière Des Inscriptions Préislamiques", in F. Déroche, C. J. Robin & M. Zink (Eds.), Les Origines Du Coran, Le Coran Des Origines, 2015, Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres: Paris, p. 65.
 Virtual Manuscript Room, University of Birmingham, Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572a (accessed on 3rd August 2015).
 C. J. Robin, "L’Arabie Dans Le Coran. Réexamen De Quelques Termes À La Lumière Des Inscriptions Préislamiques", in F. Déroche, C. J. Robin & M. Zink (Eds.), Les Origines Du Coran, Le Coran Des Origines, 2015, Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres: Paris, p. 65. It is worth adding that Folio 8 of this codex was dated 439 - 606 with 95% probability. The same laboratory also produced an impossibly early date when it carbon tested a folio from Codex Ṣanʿāʾ 1. It would be prudent to treat these results with caution until further investigations are made.
 M. J. Marx & T. J. Jocham, "Zu Den Datierungen Von Koranhandschriften Durch Die 14C-Methode", Frankfurter Zeitschrift Für Islamisch-Theologische Studien, 2015, Volume 2, p. 22. Also see "Älteste bekannte Koran-Handschriften entdeckt", Der Tagesspiegel, 2nd April 2015. Accessed on 5th April 2015.
 J. G. Wetzstein, Catalog Arabischer Manuscripte In Damaskus Gesammelt, 1863, Druck von Trowitzsch & Sohn: Berlin, p. 2.
 ibid., p. 17.
 M. Weisweiler, Verzeichnis Der Arabischen Handschriften, 1930, Universitätsbibliothek Tübingen, Volume II, Verlag von Otto Harrassowitz: Leipzig, p. 125. (No. 161). Weisweiler gives the starting verse as 17:37. According to the verse numbering system adopted by the well-known modern printed editions, it is 17:35. The script is ḥijāzī though it is listed as kufic in the catalogue entry.
 A. Fedeli, "Relevance Of The Oldest Qur'ānic Manuscripts For The Readings Mentioned By Commentaries. A Note On Sura ‘Ta-Ha’", Manuscripta Orientalia, 2009, Volume 15, Number. 1, pp. 3-10; For more information about this manuscript and the collection where it is located see, idem., "The Kufic Collection Of The Prussian Consul Wetzstein: The 1100 Leaves Of The The Universitätsbibliothek In Tübingen And Their Importance For Palaeography And Qur'ānic Criticism", in R. M. Kerr & T. Milo (Eds.), Writings And Writing From Another World And Another Era: Investigations In Islamic Text And Script In Honour Of Dr Januarius Justus Witkam, 2010, Archetype: Cambridge, pp. 117-142.
 M. J. Marx & T. J. Jocham, "Zu Den Datierungen Von Koranhandschriften Durch Die 14C-Methode", Frankfurter Zeitschrift Für Islamisch-Theologische Studien, 2015, op. cit., p. 23. Also see "Rarität entdeckt: Koranhandschrift stammt aus der Frühzeit des Islam" at Universitätsbibliothek Tübingen, Germany. Accessed on 25th December 2014.
 H-C. G. von Bothmer, "Masterworks Of Islamic Book Art: Koranic Calligraphy And Illumination In The Manuscripts Found In The Great Mosque In Sanaa", in W. Daum (Ed.), Yemen: 3000 Years Of Art And Civilization In Arabia Felix, 1987?, Pinguin-Verlag (Innsbruck) and Umschau-Verlag (Frankfurt/Main), pp. 180-181; idem., "Architekturbilder Im Koran Eine Prachthandschrift Der Umayyadenzeit Aus Dem Yemen", Pantheon, 1987, Volume 45, pp. 4-20; M. B. Piotrovsky & J. Vrieze (Eds.), Art Of Islam: Heavenly Art And Earthly Beauty, 1999, De Nieuwe Kerk: Amsterdam & Lund Humphries Publishers, pp. 101-104; H-C. G. von Bothmer, K-H. Ohlig & G-R. Puin, "Neue Wege Der Koranforschung", Magazin Forschung (Universität des Saarlandes), 1999, No. 1, p. 45.
Also published in Maṣāḥif Ṣanʿāʾ, 1985, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah: Kuwait, p. 45.
 Memory Of The World: Ṣanʿāʾ Manuscripts, CD-ROM Presentation, UNESCO.
 H-C. G. von Bothmer, K-H. Ohlig & G-R. Puin, "Neue Wege Der Koranforschung", Magazin Forschung (Universität des Saarlandes), 1999, op. cit., p. 45. Hans-Casper Graf von Bothmer says:
Gestützt auf architektur- und ornamentgeschichtliche Argumente, zu denen u.a. kodikologische und paläographische Überlegungen kamen, habe ich diese Handschrift in das letzte Jahrzehnt des ersten Jahrhunderts H. - etwa in die Jahre 710-15 n.Chr. - ans Ende der Regierungszeit al-Walids datiert. Eine später, und ohne Kenntnis meiner Datierung durchgeführte naturwissenschaftliche Untersuchung nach der C14-Methode hat nach dem noch unveröffentlichten Untersuchungsbericht, als kalibriertes Ergebnis einen Entstehungszeitraum "zwischen 657 und 690", be stimmt. Ist damit die Datierung mittels kunsthistorischer Methoden in Frage gestellt? Ich denke nicht.
Noting that the E20 Manuscript and the Samarqand Manuscript produce a range of 220 years and 260 years respectively at the 95% confidence level, Sheila Blair is suspicious of the low range reported by von Bothmer, noting it is only 33 years in length. Furthermore, she complains that the testing facility and standard deviations (confidence levels) are absent. See S. S. Blair, Islamic Calligraphy, 2006, Edinburgh University Press Ltd: Edinburgh (Scotland), p. 125 and p. 139, footnote 95. Hans-Casper von Bothmer is currently preparing a voluminous tome on the Ṣanʿāʾ manuscripts. Any judgements as to the soundness and completeness of the results reported above should be resolved by the publication of this volume.
 A. George, The Rise Of Islamic Calligraphy, 2010, Saqi Books: London, p. 79.
 M. B. Piotrovsky & J. Vrieze (Eds.), Art Of Islam: Heavenly Art And Earthly Beauty, 1999, op. cit., p. 101.
 E. Whelan, "Writing the Word of God: Some Early Qur'an Manuscripts And Their Milieux, Part I", Ars Orientalis, 1990, Volume 20, pp. 119-121 for the discussion on "Group 2" manuscripts and Figs. 19-22 on pp. 146-147.
 B. Moritz (Ed.), Arabic Palaeography: A Collection Of Arabic Texts From The First Century Of The Hidjra Till The Year 1000, 1905, Publications of the Khedivial Library, No. 16, Cairo, See Pls. 19-30.
 E. Whelan, "Writing the Word of God: Some Early Qur'an Manuscripts And Their Milieux, Part I", Ars Orientalis, 1990, op. cit., p. 120.
 B. Moritz (Ed.), Arabic Palaeography: A Collection Of Arabic Texts From The First Century Of The Hidjra Till The Year 1000, 1905, op. cit., see the legends of Pls. 19-30.
 J. von Karabacek, "Arabic Palaeography", Vienna Oriental Journal (Wiener Zeitschrift Für Die Kunde Des Morgenlandes), 1906, Volume 20, p. 136.
 Y. Dutton, "An Umayyad Fragment Of The Qur'an And Its Dating", Journal Of Qur'anic Studies, 2007, Volume 9, No. 2, pp. 57-87.
 ibid., p. 60 and p. 63.
 ibid., pp. 63-64.
 S. al-Munajjid, Dirāsāt fī Tārīkh al-Khatt al-ʿArabī Mundhu Bidayatihi ilā Nihayat al-ʿAsr al-Umawi (French Title: Etudes De Paleographie Arabe), 1972, Dar al-Kitab al-Jadid: Beirut (Lebanon), p. 88, Plate 45.
 D. A. Kerr, The Illuminated Manuscripts Of Hartford Seminary: The Art Of Christian-Muslim Relations, 1994, Hartford Seminary Bookstore: Connecticut, p.12.
 Sotheby's, Arts of the Islamic World, 2004 (13th October 2004), Sotheby's: London, pp. 10–11.
 M. Fraser & W. Kwiatkowski, Ink And Gold: Islamic Calligraphy, 2006, Sam Fogg: London, pp. 18–21.
 F. Déroche, Qurʾans Of The Umayyads: A First Overview, 2014, Koninklijke Brill nv: Leiden (The Netherlands), p. 128.
 This manuscript including its carbon dating was publicly discussed by Déroche in 2012 who mentioned the existence of a few other scattered folios. See, Hamad Bin Khalifa Symposium On Islam Art | Islamic Art Symposium | Podcast | François Déroche, accessed 20th July 2012, time slice [53:08-54:24]. At this time Déroche did not disclose the identity of the manuscript or its constituent parts. We made further investigation, identifying the manuscript and its constituent parts located at various collections around the world, publishing the results in the 2012 update of our article, Concise List of Arabic Manuscripts of the Quran Attributable to the First Century Hijra. Déroche has now published the identifying details in full, see F. Déroche, Qurʾans Of The Umayyads: A First Overview, 2014, Koninklijke Brill nv: Leiden (The Netherlands), p. 121.
 ibid., pp. 121-128.
 E. A. Rezvan, "On The Dating Of An Uthmanic Qur'an From St. Petersburg", Manuscripta Orientalia, 2000, op. cit., pp. 19-22.
 E. A. Rezvan, "The Qur'an And Its World VI. Emergence Of A Canon: The Struggle For Uniformity", Manuscripta Orientalia, 1998, Volume 4, No. 2, p. 26.
 F. Déroche, "Note Sur Les Fragments Coraniques Anciens De Katta Langar (Ouzbékistan)", Cahiers D'Asie Centrale, 1999, Volume 7, p. 70.
 A. George, "Calligraphy, Colour And Light In The Blue Qur’an", Journal Of Qur'anic Studies, 2010, Volume 11, No. 1, p. 88.
 J. J. Witkam, Inventory Of The Oriental Manuscripts Of The Library Of The University Of Leiden, 2007, Volume 15, Manuscripts Or. 14.001 - Or. 15.000, Ter Lugt Press: Leiden, p. 253.
 M. J. Marx & T. J. Jocham, "Zu Den Datierungen Von Koranhandschriften Durch Die 14C-Methode", Frankfurter Zeitschrift Für Islamisch-Theologische Studien, 2015, op. cit., p. 24. Also see "Oudste Leidse Koranfragmenten ruim een eeuw ouder dan gedacht". For English translation of the same see "Oldest Quran Fragments in Leiden" at Leiden University. Both the links accessed on 29th December 2014.
 M. J. Marx & T. J. Jocham, "Zu Den Datierungen Von Koranhandschriften Durch Die 14C-Methode", Frankfurter Zeitschrift Für Islamisch-Theologische Studien, 2015, op. cit., p. 25.
 A. Shebunin, "Kuficheskii Koran Imp. SPB. Publichnoi Biblioteki", Zapiski Vostochnago Otdieleniia Imperatorskago Russkago Arkheologicheskago Obshchestva, 1891, op. cit., pp. 69-133.
 S. Pissareff, Coran Coufique de Samarcand: écrit d'après la Tradition de la Propre Main du Troisième Calife Osman (644-656) qui se trouve dans la Bibliothèque Impériale Publique de St. Petersbourg, 1905, St. Petersberg.
 A. Shebunin, "Kuficheskii Koran Imp. SPB. Publichnoi Biblioteki", Zapiski Vostochnago Otdieleniia Imperatorskago Russkago Arkheologicheskago Obshchestva, 1891, Volume 6, pp. 69-133, especially the conclusions.
 S. Pissareff, Coran Coufique de Samarcand: écrit d'après la Tradition de la Propre Main du Troisième Calife Osman (644-656) qui se trouve dans la Bibliothèque Impériale Publique de St. Petersbourg, 1905, St. Petersberg.
 A. Jeffery & I. Mendelsohn, "The Orthography Of The Samarqand Qur'an Codex", Journal Of The American Oriental Society, 1942, Volume 62, No. 3, p. 195.
 F. Déroche, "Note Sur Les Fragments Coraniques Anciens De Katta Langar (Ouzbékistan)", Cahiers D'Asie Centrale, 1999, Volume 7, p. 65.
 F. Déroche, "Twenty Leaves From The Tashkent Qur'an", in S. Blair & J. Bloom (Eds.), God Is Beautiful And Loves Beauty: The Object In Islamic Art And Culture, 2013, Yale University Press: New Haven and London, p. 76. Déroche only very briefly sketches out the case for the attribution to al-Mahdi; elsewhere he points to a future publication of his where it appears he intends to set out the case more fully, see F. Déroche, Qurʾans Of The Umayyads: A First Overview, 2014, op. cit., p. 128 & footnote 76.
 Islamic Art, Indian Miniatures, Rugs And Carpets: London, Tuesday, 20 October 1992 at 10 a.m. and 2.30 p.m., Thursday, 22 October 1992 at 2.30 p.m., 1992, Christie's: London, p. 88 (Lot 225). Also see F. Déroche, "Manuscripts Of The Qur'an" in J. D. McAuliffe (Ed.), Encyclopaedia Of The Qur'an, 2003, Volume 3, Brill: Leiden & Boston, p. 261; Islamic Calligraphy, 2003, Catalogue 27, Sam Fogg: London, p. 12. Sam Fogg's catalogue contains a typographical error here. The carbon dating reads 640-705 CE instead of 640-765 CE.
 E. A. Rezvan, "On The Dating Of An “‘Uthmanic Qur'an” From St. Petersburg", Manuscripta Orientalia, 2000, op. cit., p. 19.
 "Oudste Leidse Koranfragmenten ruim een eeuw ouder dan gedacht". For English translation of the same see "Oldest Quran Fragments in Leiden" at Leiden University. For dating, see Corpus Coranicum website. All the links accessed on 10th August 2016.
 S. N. Noseda, "A Third Koranic Fragment On Papyrus: An Opportunity For A Revision", Rendiconti Classe Di Lettere E Scienze Morali E Storiche, 2004, Vol. 137, pp. 313-326 esp. p. 317. Noseda's history of the manuscript and its description of the script have been summarised above.
 J. J. Witkam, Inventory Of The Oriental Manuscripts Of The Library Of The University Of Leiden, 2007, Volume 7, Manuscripts Or. 6001 – Or. 7000, Ter Lugt Press: Leiden, p. 311.
 Leiden Or. 6814. Accessed 8th March 2016.
 Ms. Sig. Is. 18. Accessed 8th March 2016.
 F. Déroche, "Format Et Coût Des Livres. Les Manuscrits Coraniques Sur Parchemin Et Les Enseignements De La Collection De Kairouan", in A. Merl, G-R. Puin & O. Siebisch (Eds.), Zwischen Sanaa Und Saarbrücken: Hans-Caspar Graf Von Bothmer Zum 70. Geburtstag, 2012, Universitätsverlag des Saarlandes, p. 21-22.
 F. Déroche, "A Note on the Mediaeval Inventory of the Manuscripts Kept in the Great Mosque of Kairouan", in R. M. Kerr & T. Milo (Eds.), Writings And Writing From Another World And Another Era: Investigations In Islamic Text And Script In Honour Of Dr. Januarius Justus Witkam, 2010, Archetype: Cambridge, p. 83.
 F. Déroche, Qurʾans Of The Umayyads: A First Overview, 2014, op. cit., p. 13; F. Déroche, "Format Et Coût Des Livres. Les Manuscrits Coraniques Sur Parchemin Et Les Enseignements De La Collection De Kairouan", in A. Merl, G-R. Puin & O. Siebisch (Eds.), Zwischen Sanaa Und Saarbrücken: Hans-Caspar Graf Von Bothmer Zum 70. Geburtstag, 2012, op. cit., p. 22.
 A. George, "Coloured Dots and the Question of Regional Origins in Early Qur'ans (Part II)", Journal of Qur'anic Studies, 2015, Volume 17, Number 2, pp. 75-76; F. Déroche, Catalogue Des Manuscrits Arabes: Deuxième Partie: Manuscrits Musulmans - Tome I, 1: Les Manuscrits Du Coran: Aux Origines De La Calligraphie Coranique, 1983, Bibliothèque Nationale: Paris, p. 124, No. 197.
 F. Déroche, Qurʾans Of The Umayyads: A First Overview, 2014, op. cit., pp. 12-13; A. George, "Coloured Dots and the Question of Regional Origins in Early Qur'ans (Part II)", Journal of Qur'anic Studies, 2015, op. cit., pp. 75-76.
 F. Déroche, "Format Et Coût Des Livres. Les Manuscrits Coraniques Sur Parchemin Et Les Enseignements De La Collection De Kairouan", in A. Merl, G-R. Puin & O. Siebisch (Eds.), Zwischen Sanaa Und Saarbrücken: Hans-Caspar Graf Von Bothmer Zum 70. Geburtstag, 2012, op. cit., p. 23; F. Déroche, "A Note on the Mediaeval Inventory of the Manuscripts Kept in the Great Mosque of Kairouan", in R. M. Kerr & T. Milo (Eds.), Writings And Writing From Another World And Another Era: Investigations In Islamic Text And Script In Honour Of Dr. Januarius Justus Witkam, 2010, op. cit., pp. 81-83.
 F. Déroche, Qurʾans Of The Umayyads: A First Overview, 2014, op. cit., p. 12.
 F. Déroche, "The Qur’anic Manuscript Under The Umayyad Dynasty", 7th January 2016, Collège de France. Link accessed on 2nd May 2016, time slice [14:25 - 19:05]. Also see, C. J. Robin, "L’Arabie Dans Le Coran. Réexamen De Quelques Termes À La Lumière Des Inscriptions Préislamiques", in F. Déroche, C. J. Robin & M. Zink (Eds.), Les Origines Du Coran, Le Coran Des Origines, 2015, Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres: Paris, p. 65, footnote 134.
 F. Déroche, Qurʾans Of The Umayyads: A First Overview, 2014, Koninklijke Brill nv: Leiden (The Netherlands), pp. 11-12.
 ibid., pp. 12-13.
 Déroche does give an example of three manuscripts that were carbon dated that produced results in line with their palaeographical attribution [ibid., p. 13], but this is merely to confirm the palaeographical attribution - not in the sense the carbon dating method has been validated. Elsewhere Déroche mentions that Ms. R 38 has been carbon dated with 95.6% probability to 648-691 CE and that a folio originally belonging to TIEM 51 & 53 with 95.2% probability to 609-694 CE. These results do not fit Déroche's chronological reconstruction and he says the "real" (opposed to fake?) date of these manuscripts is some 50 years later [ibid., p. 125, p. 128].
 G. S. Reynolds, "Variant Readings - The Birmingham Qur'an In The Context Of Debate On Islamic Origins", Times Literary Supplement, August 7 2015, p. 15.
 J. R. Arnold & W. F. Libby, "Age Determination By Radiocarbon Content: Checks With Samples Of Known Age", Science, 1949, op. cit., pp. 678-679, especially Table 1 and Figure 1.
 W. M. Schniedewind, "Problems Of Paleographic Dating Of Inscriptions" in T. E. Levy, T. Higham (Eds.), The Bible And Radiocarbon Dating Archaeology, Text And Science, 2005, Equinox Publishing: London & Oakville, p. 405.
 B. Nongbri, "The Use And Abuse Of P52: Papyrological Pitfalls In The Dating Of The Fourth Gospel", Harvard Theological Review, 2005, Volume 98, p. 32, footnote 27. The issue of uncertainty and imprecision has been long recognized as an issue in palaeography. For example, citing Eric Turner, Nongbri says ( p. 25, footnote 6):
Paleography is a last resort for dating... We would also do well to remember the standard rule of thumb for precision in paleographic dating, Turner writes, "For book hands, a period of 50 years is the least acceptable spread of time".
 B. W. Griffin, "The Paleographical Dating Of P46", 1996 (November). This paper was delivered to the Society of Biblical Literature, New Testament Textual Criticism Section, New Orleans. Its transcript can be found here (accessed on 5th June 2016). Griffin comments:
Until more rigorous methodologies are developed, it is difficult to construct a 95% confidence interval for NT manuscripts without allowing a century for an assigned date. If we use the 50-year period that is currently standard for the Oxyrhynchus series, then I would prefer AD 175-225 as the most probable date for P-46. But if we want a 95% confidence interval for P-46, then at present AD 150-250 is probably the narrowest range that we can use.
 G. S. Reynolds, "Variant Readings - The Birmingham Qur'an In The Context Of Debate On Islamic Origins", Times Literary Supplement, August 7 2015, op. cit., p. 15.
 S. J. Shoemaker, "Biblical Criticism and the Qur’an: The Hour Has Drawn Nigh", Mizan Project, paragraph 3, accessed 8th March 2016.
 F. Brock, "Radiocarbon Dating Of Historical Parchments", Radiocarbon, 2013, Volume 55, pp. 353-363, esp. p. 354.
 S. J. Shoemaker, The Death Of A Prophet: The End Of Muhammad’s Life And The Beginnings Of Islam, 2012, University of Pennsylvania Press, pp. 146-150, p. 322; S. J. Shoemaker, "Muḥammad And The Qurʾān" in S. F. Johnson (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook Of Late Antiquity, 2012, Oxford University Press, New York, pp, 1087-1089.
 F. Déroche, Qurʾans Of The Umayyads: A First Overview, 2014, op. cit., p. 13.
 G. T. Emery, "Perturbation Of Nuclear Decay Rates", Annual Review Of Nuclear Science, 1972, Volume 22, pp.165-202.
 J. L. Anderson, "Non-Poisson Distributions Observed During Counting Of Certain Carbon-14-Labeled Organic (Sub)monolayers", Journal Of Physical Chemistry, 1972, Volume 76, pp. 3603–3612.
 C. -A. Huh, "Dependence Of The Decay Rate Of 7Be On Chemical Forms", Earth And Planetary Science Letters, 1999, Volume 171, pp. 325–328.
 R. A. Kerr, "Tweaking The Clock Of Radioactive Decay", Science, 1999, Volume 286, pp. 882–883. Also see E. B Norman , G. A. Rech, E. Browne, R. -M. Larimer, M. R. Dragowsky, Y. D. Chan, M. C. P. Isaac, R. J. McDonald, A. R. Smith, "Influence Of Physical And Chemical Environments On The Decay Rates Of 7Be and 40K", Physics Letters B, 2001, Volume 519, pp. 15–22, especially the conclusions on p. 21.
 S. J. Shoemaker, "Biblical Criticism and the Qur’an: The Hour Has Drawn Nigh", Mizan Project, paragraph 4, accessed 8th March 2016.
 K. Hughen, S. Lehman, J. Southon, J. Overpeck, O. Marchal, C. Herring, J. Turnbull, "14C Activity And Global Carbon Cycle Changes Over The Past 50,000 Years", Science, 2004, Volume, 303, pp. 202–207.
 J. C. Vogel, A. Fuls, E. Visser, "Pretoria Calibration For Short-Lived Samples, 1930–3350 BC", Radiocarbon, 1993, Volume 35, pp. 73-85.
 T. F. Braziunas, I. Y. Fung, M. Stuiver, "The Preindustrial Atmospheric 14CO2 Latitudinal Gradient As Related To Exchanges Among Atmospheric, Oceanic And Terrestrial Reservoirs", Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 1995, Volume 9, pp. 565–584.
 C. S. M. Turney, J. G. Palmer, "Does The El Niño–Southern Oscillation Control The Interhemispheric Radiocarbon Offset?", Quaternary Research, 2007, Volume 67, Issue 1, pp. 174-180.
 A. Hogg, J. Palmer, G. Boswijk, C. Turney, "High-Precision Radiocarbon Measurements Of Tree-Ring Dated Wood From New Zealand: 195 BC–AD 995", Radiocarbon, 2011, Volume 53, pp. 529-542.
 P. J. Reimer, E. Bard, A. Bayliss, J. W. Beck, P. G. Blackwell, C. B. Ramsey, C. E. Buck, H. Cheng, R. L. Edwards, M. Friedrich, P. M. Grootes, T. P. Guilderson, H. Haflidason, I. Hajdas, C. Hatté, T. J. Heaton, D. L. Hoffmann, A. G. Hogg, K. A. Hughen, K. F. Kaiser, B. Kromer, S. W. Manning, M. Niu, R. W. Reimer, D. A. Richards, E. M. Scott, J. R. Southon, R. A. Staff, C. S. M. Turney, J. van der Plicht, "IntCal13 And Marine13 Radiocarbon Age Calibration Curves 0–50,000 Years Cal BP", Radiocarbon, 2013, Volume 55, pp. 1869-1887.
 A. G. Hogg, Q. Hua, P. G. Blackwell, M. Niu, C. E. Buck, T. P. Guilderson, T. J. Heaton, J. G. Palmer, P. J. Reimer, R. W. Reimer, C. S. M. Turney, S. R. H. Zimmerman, "SHCal13 Southern Hemisphere Calibration, 0–50,000 Years Cal BP", Radiocarbon, 2013, Volume 55, pp. 1889-1903.
 S. J. Shoemaker, "Biblical Criticism and the Qur’an: The Hour Has Drawn Nigh", Mizan Project, paragraph 4, accessed 8th March 2016.
 P. I. Kuniholm, C. L. Striker, "Dendrochronological Investigations In The Aegean And Neighboring Regions, 1977-1982", Journal Of Field Archaeology, 1983, Volume 10, pp. 411-420.
 P. I. Kuniholm, C. L. Striker, "Dendrochronological Investigations In The Aegean And Neighboring Regions, 1983-1986", Journal of Field Archaeology, 1987, Volume 14, pp. 385-398.
 P. I. Kuniholm, C. L. Striker, "Dendrochronology and the Architectural History of the Church of the Holy Apostles in Thessaloniki", Architectura: Zeitschrift Für Geschichteder Architektur, 1990, Volume 2, pp. 1-26.
 P. I. Kuniholm, "Long Tree-Ring Chronologies For The Eastern Mediterranean", in S. Demirci, A. M. Özer, G. D. Summers (Eds.), Archaeometry 94: The Proceedings of the 29th International Symposium on Archaeometry, 1994, Tübitak: Ankara (Turkey), pp. 401-409.
 P. I. Kuniholm, "The Prehistoric Aegean: Dendrochronological Progress As Of 1995", Acta Archaeologica, 1996, Volume 67, pp. 327-335.
 P. I. Kuniholm, B. Kromer, S. W. Manning, M. Newton, C. E. Latini, M. J. Bruce, "Anatolian Tree Rings And The Absolute Chronology Of The Eastern Mediterranean 2220-718 BC", Nature, 1996, Volume 381, 780-782.
 S. W. Manning, B. Kromer, P. I. Kuniholm, M. W. Newton, "Anatolian Tree Rings And A New Chronology For The East Mediterranean Bronze-Iron Ages", Science, 2001, Volume 294, pp. 2532-2535.
 C. B. Griggs, P. I. Kuniholm, M. W. Newton, J. D. Watkins, S. W. Manning, "A 924-Year Regional Oak Tree-Ring Chronology For North Central Turkey", in S. W. Manning, M. J. Bruce (Eds.), Tree-Rings, Kings And Old World Archaeology And Environment: Papers Presented In Honor Of Peter Ian Kuniholm, 2009, Oxbow Books: Oxford, pp. 71-79.
 C. L. Pearson, C. B. Griggs, P. I. Kuniholm, P. W. Brewer, T. Ważny, L. Canady, "Dendroarchaeology Of The Mid-First Millennium AD In Constantinople", Journal of Archaeological Science, 2012, Volume 39, pp. 3402-3414; S. W. Manning, C. L. Pearson, C. B. Griggs, B. Kromer, "Dendro-Wiggle-Match Placement Of An Oak Tree-Ring Chronology From Mid-First Millennium AD Constantinople", Antiquity, 2012, Volume 86, Issue 331. Available online.
 P. I. Kuniholm, C. L. Pearson, T. J. Ważny, C. B. Griggs, "Of Harbors And Trees: The Marmaray Contribution To A 2367-Year Oak-Tree-Ring Chronology From 97 Sites For The Aegean, East Mediterranean, And Black Seas" in P. Magdalino and N. Ergin (Eds.), Istanbul And Water, 2015, Ancient Near Eastern Studies - Supplement 47, Peeters: Leuven, Paris, Bristol, pp. 47-90.
 P. I. Kuniholm, "The Prehistoric Aegean: Dendrochronological Progress As Of 1995", Acta Archaeologica, 1996, op. cit.,p p. 327-328.
 P. I. Kuniholm, C. L. Pearson, T. J. Ważny, C. B. Griggs, "Of Harbors And Trees: The Marmaray Contribution To A 2367-Year Oak-Tree-Ring Chronology From 97 Sites For The Aegean, East Mediterranean, And Black Seas" in P. Magdalino and N. Ergin (Eds.), Istanbul And Water, 2015, op. cit., p. 50.
 M. Stuiver, B. Becker, "High-Precision Decadal Calibration Of The Radiocarbon Time Scale, AD 1950-6000 BC", Radiocarbon, 1993, Volume 35, pp. 35-65.
 J. C. Vogel, A. Fuls, E. Visser, "Pretoria Calibration Curve For Short-lived Samples, 1930-3350 BC", Radiocarbon, 1993, Volume 35, pp. 73-85.
 T. F. Braziunas, I. Y. Fung, M. Stuiver, "The Preindustrial Atmospheric 14CO2 Latitudinal Gradient As Related To Exchanges Among Atmospheric, Oceanic, And Terrestrial Reservoirs", Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 1995. Volume 9, pp. 565-584.
 B. Kromer, S. W. Manning, P. I. Kuniholm, M. W. Newton, M. Spurk, I. Levin, "Regional 14CO2 Offsets In The Troposphere: Magnitude, Mechanism, And Consequences", Science, 2001, Volume 294, pp. 2529-2532; F. G. McCormac, M. G. L. Bailie, J. R. Pilche, "Location-Dependent Differences In The 14C Content Of Wood", Radiocarbon, 1995, Volume 37, pp. 329-407. Although location dependent difference exists, it is wothwhile adding that this study notes that "none of the findings of this study would significantly alter calibrated 14C dates".
 B. Kromer, S. W. Manning, M. Friedrich, S. Talamo, N. Trano, "14C Calibration In The 2nd And 1st Millennia BC - Eastern Mediterranean Radiocarbon Comparison Project (EMRCP)", Radiocarbon, 2010, Volume 52, pp. 875-886.
 S. W. Manning, M. Barbetti, B. Kromer, P. I. Kuniholm, I. Levin, M. W. Newton, P. J. Reimer, "No Systematic Early Bias To Mediterranean 14C Ages; Radiocarbon Measurements From Tree-Ring And Air Samples Provide Tight Limits To Age Offsets", Radiocarbon, 2002, Volume 44, pp. 739-754, especially p. 739.
 S. W. Manning, B. Kromer, S. Talamo, M. Friedrich, P. I. Kuniholm, M. W. Newton, "Radiocarbon Calibration In The East Mediterranean Region: The East Mediterranean Radiocarbon Comparison Project (EMRCP) And The Current State Of Play" in T. E. Levy, T. Higham (Eds.), The Bible And Radiocarbon Dating Archaeology, Text And Science, 2005, Equinox Publishing: London & Oakville, pp. 95-103, especially p. 95. For the time periods just at before and at the advent of Islam, see C. L. Pearson, C. B. Griggs, P. I. Kuniholm, P. W. Brewer, T. Ważny, L. Canady, "Dendroarchaeology Of The Mid-First Millennium AD In Constantinople", Journal of Archaeological Science, 2012, op. cit., pp. 3405-3406, especially Figures 3 and 4; S. W. Manning, C. L. Pearson, C. B. Griggs, B. Kromer, "Dendro-Wiggle-Match Placement Of An Oak Tree-Ring Chronology From Mid-First Millennium AD Constantinople", Antiquity, 2012, Volume 86, Issue 331. Available online.
 P. J. Reimer, M. G. L. Baillie, E. Bard, A. Bayliss, J. W. Beck, P. G. Blackwell, C. B. Ramsey, C. E. Buck, G. S. Burr, R. L. Edwards, M. Friedrich, P. M. Grootes, T. P. Guilderson, I. Hajdas, T. J. Heaton, A. G. Hogg, K. A. Hughen, K. F. Kaiser, B. Kromer, F. G. McCormac, S. W. Manning, R. W. Reimer, D. A. Richards, J. R. Southon, S. Talamo, C. S. M. Turney, J. van der Plicht, C. E. Weyhenmeyer, "IntCal09 And Marine09 Radiocarbon Age Calibration Curves, 0-50,000 Years Cal BP", Radiocarbon, 2009, Volume 51, pp. 1111-1150. The Appendix in the end gives the data sets utlized for the IntCal09 calibration curves. Note under "Tree rings from German oak and pine chronology" says (p. 1148):
IntCal04 (Reimer et al. 2004) included updates to the calendar age of the German pine measurements and some reinstated tree rings from German oaks affected by beetles, which previously could not be dendrodated (cf. Friedrich et al. 2004) as well as previously unpublished data (some of which from the East Mediterranean Radiocarbon Comparison Project is included in Kromer et al. 2009).
 G. S. Reynolds, "Variant Readings - The Birmingham Qur'an In The Context Of Debate On Islamic Origins", Times Literary Supplement, August 7 2015, op. cit., p. 15.
 P. J. Reimer, M. G. L .Baillie, E. Bard, A. Bayliss, J. W. Beck, C. J. H. Bertrand, P. G. Blackwell, C. E. Buck, G. S. Burr, K. B. Cutler, P. E. Damon, R. L. Edwards, R. G. Fairbanks, M. Friedrich, T. P. Guilderson, A. G. Hogg, K. A. Hughen, B. Kromer, G. McCormac, S. Manning, C. B. Ramsey, R. W. Reimer, S. Remmele, J. R. Southon, M. Stuiver, S. Talamo, F. W. Taylor, J. van der Plicht, C. E. Weyhenmeyer, "IntCal04 Terrestrial Radiocarbon Age Calibration, 0-26 Cal Kyr BP", Radiocarbon, 2004, Volume 46, pp. 1029-1058. See Figure 1 and p. 1030 for discussions. For the datasets used for calibration, see pp. 1031-1036.
 Perhaps the best example of the use of contemporaneous organic samples to date the historical past comes from the work of Ramsey et al. Their work involving 211 samples, presents a comprehensive radiocarbon dating study on the chronology of Pharaonic Egypt. The authors of this work selected short-lived plant samples for 14C dating from individual funerary contexts in various museum collections. Each sample could be associated with a specific section of the historical ancient Egyptian chronology or with the reign of a particular Pharaoh. Notice their choice of samples in the paragraph below:
We obtained short-lived plant remains from museum collections (e.g., seeds, basketry, plant-based textiles, plant stems, fruits) that were directly associated with particular reigns or short sections of the historical chronology. We avoided charcoal and wood samples because of the possibility of inbuilt age. We also avoided mummified material because of concerns about contamination from bitumen or other substances used in the mummification process and human material because of the possibility of riverine or marine components in the diet (which might contain older carbon). We selected samples according to the security of their archaeological context and relation to a given king’s reign, but in making the chronological associations, we were reliant on the judgement of excavators and curators and on the integrity of the collections themselves, because many of the excavations took place in the 19th or early 20th century. Most of the samples were taken from individual funerary contexts. In a few cases, we sampled different short-lived plant remains from a single context, allowing us to check the internal consistency of the measurements.
More importantly, au contraire to Reynolds' claim concerning leather and linen samples from the Dead Sea Scrolls as calibration models, calibration of the radiocarbon dates from 211 samples from ancient Egypt was done against the IntCal04 calibration curve using OxCal v4.1.3. Details in C. B. Ramsey, M. W. Dee, J. M. Rowland, T. F. G. Higham, S. A. Harris, F. Brock, A. Quiles, E. M. Wild, E. S. Marcus & A. J. Shortland, "Radiocarbon-Based Chronology For Dynastic Egypt", Science, 2010, Volume 328, pp. 1554-1557, esp. 1554-1555 and Figure 2. Also see the Supplementary Information.
 E. Rezvan, "The Mingana Folios In Their Historical Context (Notes In The Margins Of Newspaper Publications)", Manuscripta Orientalia, 2015, Volume 21, pp. 32-38.
 G. S. Reynolds, "Variant Readings - The Birmingham Qur'an In The Context Of Debate On Islamic Origins", Times Literary Supplement, August 7 2015, op. cit., p. 15.
 G. S. Reynolds, "Introduction: Qur’ānic Studies And Its Controversies", in G. S. Reynolds, (Ed.), The Qur'ān In Its Historical Context, 2008, Routledge: Oxford, pp. 8-13; idem., The Qur'ān And Its Biblical Subtext, 2010, Routledge: Oxford, pp. 11-13 & pp. 201-206 & pp. 212-214; D. King, "Review: Gabriel Said Reynolds, The Qur’ān And Its Biblical Subtext", Journal For Late Antique Religion And Culture, 2010, Volume 4, p. 84; G. S. Reynolds, "Le Problème De La Chronologie Du Coran", Arabica, 2011, Volume 58, Issue 6, pp. 477-502; idem., "On the Qurʾān’s Māʾida Passage And The Wanderings Of The Israelites", in C. A. Segovia & B. Lourié (Eds.), The Coming Of The Comforter: When, Where, And To Whom? Studies On The Rise Of Islam And Various Other Topics In Memory Of John Wansbrough, 2012, Gorgias Press: New Jersey (USA), pp. 91-108.
 H. Berg, "The Needle In The Haystack: Islamic Origins And The Nature Of The Early Sources", in C. A. Segovia & B. Lourié (Eds.), The Coming Of The Comforter: When, Where, And To Whom? Studies On The Rise Of Islam And Various Other Topics In Memory Of John Wansbrough, 2012, op. cit., p. 272. He says, “… his [Wansbrough] claim that the ne varietur text only occurred “towards the end of the second century” needs to be modified.”
 F. Déroche, "The Codex Parisino-Petropolitanus And The Ḥijāzī Scripts", in M. C. A. MacDonald (Ed.), The Development Of Arabic As A Written Language: Papers From The Special Session Of The Seminar For Arabian Studies Held On 24th July 2009, 2010, Supplement To The Proceedings Of The Seminar For Arabian Studies - Volume 40, Archaeopress: Oxford, pp. 113-114.
 F. Brock, "Radiocarbon Dating of Historical Parchments", Radiocarbon, 2013, Volume 55, Numbers 2-3, pp. 353-363.
 F. Déroche, Qurʾans Of The Umayyads: A First Overview, 2014, op. cit., p. 13.
 M. van Strydonck, A. de Moor, D. Bénazeth, "14C Dating Compared To Art Historical Dating Of Roman And Coptic Textiles From Egypt", Radiocarbon, 2004, Volume 46, Number 1, p. 243.
 This point has been made succinctly by Sheila Blair, who also provides a neat summary of the benefits and pitfalls that can be encountered during the carbon dating process. See, S. S. Blair, Islamic Calligraphy, 2006, Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh (Scotland), pp. 124-125, p. 128.
 For a superb overview, see S. W. Manning, "Radiocarbon Dating And Archaeology: History, Progress And Present Status", in R. Chapman & A. Wylie (Eds.), Material Evidence: Learning From Archaeological Practice, 2015, Routledge (London & New York), pp. 128 - 158.
 G-R. Puin, "Methods Of Research On Qur'anic Manuscripts - A Few Ideas" in Maṣāḥif Ṣanʿāʾ, 1985, op. cit., p. 10.
 E. A. Rezvan, "The Qur'ān: Between Textus Receptus And Critical Edition", in J. Hamesse (Ed.), Les Problèmes Posés Par L'Édition Critique Des Textes Anciens Et Médiévaux, 1992, Institut D'Etudes Médiévales De L'Université Catholique De Louvain, p. 300; Also see E. A. Rezvan, "The Data-Base On Early Qur'an MSS: New Approach To The Text History Reconstruction", in A. Ubaydli & A. Brockett (Org.), Proceedings Of The 3rd International Conference And Exhibition On Multi-Lingual Computing (Arabic And Roman Script), 1992, The Documentation Unit, The Centre For Middle Eastern And Islamic Studies: University of Durham (UK), p. 3.3.4. These two essays are nearly identical in content.
 H-C. G. von Bothmer, K-H. Ohlig & G-R. Puin, "Neue Wege Der Koranforschung", Magazin Forschung (Universität des Saarlandes), 1999, op. cit., p. 46, note 39.
 P. Crone, The Qurʾānic Pagans And Related Matters, 2016, Volume 1, Koninklijke Brill nv, Leiden (The Netherlands), p. xiii.
 M. J. Marx & T. J. Jocham, "Zu Den Datierungen Von Koranhandschriften Durch Die 14C-Methode", Frankfurter Zeitschrift Für Islamisch-Theologische Studien, 2015, op. cit., pp. 9-37.
 Various fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls were radiocarbon dated in 1991 (G. Bonani, M. Broshi, I. Carmi, S. Ivy, J. Strugnell, W. Wölfli, "Radiocarbon Dating Of Dead Sea Scrolls", ‘Atiqot, 1991, Volume 20, pp. 27-32; G. Bonani, S. Ivy, W. Wölfli, M. Broshi, I. Carmi & J. Strugnell, "Radiocarbon Dating Of Fourteen Dead Sea Scrolls", Radiocarbon, 1992, Volume 34, No. 3, pp. 843-849. These dates were also reproduced by James VanderKam in The Dead Sea Scrolls Today, 1994, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company: Grand Rapids (MI), p. 18, Table I. For a complete discussion see pp. 17-18. An overview of radiocarbon dating in 1991 was given by Hershel Shanks. See H. Shanks, "Carbon-14 Tests Substantiate Scroll Dates", Biblical Archaeology Review, 1991, Volume 17, No. 6, p. 72. Perhaps the earliest 14C dating on the Dead Sea Scroll material was done by Libby. He dated the linen wrapping the scroll and determined the value to be 1917 ± 200 BP. See W. F. Libby, "Radiocarbon Dates, II", Science, 1951, Volume 114, p. 291).
More recently in 1995 some other Dead Sea Scrolls were dated (A. J. T. Jull, D. J. Donahue, M. Broshi & E. Tov, "Radiocarbon Dating Of Scrolls And Linen Fragments From The Judean Desert", Radiocarbon, 1995, Volume 37, No. 1, pp. 11-19; A. J. T. Jull, D. J. Donahue, M. Broshi & E. Tov, "Radiocarbon Dating Of Scrolls And Linen Fragments From The Judean Desert", ‘Atiqot, 1996, Volume 28, pp. 85-91. Hershel Shanks provided an overview of this dating. H. Shanks, "New Carbon-14 Tests Leave Room For Debate", Biblical Archaeology Review, 1995, Volume 21, No. 4, p. 61).
Comparing the palaeographic and radiocarbon dating of the scrolls, the study published in 1991 concluded that (G. Bonani, M. Broshi, I. Carmi, S. Ivy, J. Strugnell, W. Wölfli, "Radiocarbon Dating Of Dead Sea Scrolls", ‘Atiqot, 1991, op. cit., p. 31):
Our research put to test both the radiocarbon method and palaeography; seemingly, both disciplines have fared well.
Similar conclusions were also reached by the 1995 study (A. J. T. Jull, D. J. Donahue, M. Broshi & E. Tov, "Radiocarbon Dating Of Scrolls And Linen Fragments From The Judean Desert", Radiocarbon, 1995, op. cit., p. 17. For a dissenting view on the radiocarbon studies, see J. Atwill, S. Braunheim & R. Eisenman, "Redating The Radiocarbon Dating Of The Dead Sea Scrolls", Dead Sea Discoveries, 2004, Volume 11, No. 2, pp. 143-157). It says:
Ages determined from 14C measurements on the remainder of the Dead Sea Scroll samples are in reasonable agreement with palaeographic estimates of such ages, in the cases where those estimates are available.
It must be borne in mind that the conclusions of these two studies are based on the confidence level of 1σ (or 68%). In other words, in 68% of the cases the date will be within a particular range. If the range is increased from 1σ to 2σ, the percentage can be increased from 68% to 95%. Consequently, it will also effect the overall agreement between radiocarbon and palaeographic datings. See A. J. T. Jull, D. J. Donahue, M. Broshi & E. Tov, "Radiocarbon Dating Of Scrolls And Linen Fragments From The Judean Desert", ‘Atiqot, 1996, op. cit., Table I, p. 86. Table I gives the dating range for 1σ and 2σ confidence levels. The palaeographic dating is given in Table II on p. 88. The results of the 1995 radiocarbon dating of the Dead Sea Scrolls were described as "too gross and iffy to settle any arguments". See H. Shanks, "New Carbon-14 Tests Leave Room For Debate", Biblical Archaeology Review, 1995, op. cit., p. 61.
 S. S. Blair, Islamic Calligraphy, 2006, op. cit., p. 128.
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 Qur'anic Manuscripts