Arabic Papyri

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Geoffrey Khan

Article contents:
Extant Arabic Papyri
Published papyri
The papyrus roll and its manufacture

For 4,000 years the main type of writing material used in Egypt was papyrus. This was usually referred to in Arabic as qirṭās, which was derived from the Greek khartës via the Aramaic qarṭīs.[1] Papyrus was manufactured from the plant Cyperus papyrus L, which is native to Egypt. It was easier to handle than the available alternatives, such as wood, skins and clay tablets, and could be made in a range of thicknesses and qualities.These factors no doubt contributed to its success.[2] It is deceptive to judge the physical nature of papyrus by the brittle remains that have been preserved down to modern times. When manufactured, papyrus was light coloured, smooth, strong and flexible.[3]

Figurative illustration depicting a Christian man (recognizable by the cross on his hat) making a special drink by using a fish, a piece of paper, a tube and a cup; from the Arabic manuscript ʿAjāʾib al-Hind: barrahu wa-baḥaruhu wa-jazāʾiruhu
(The wonders of India: its lands, sea and islands) by Abū Muḥammad al-Ḥasan ibn ʻAbd al-Raḥmān ibn Khallād al-Rāmahurmuzī (d. 342/953), copied by Muḥammad bin al-Qaṭṭān in 904/1498. MS 3606, Ayasofya Library (Turkey).
Figurative illustration depicting a Christian man (recognizable by the cross on his hat) making a special drink by using a fish, a piece of paper, a tube and a cup; from the Arabic manuscript ʿAjāʾib al-Hind: barrahu wa-baḥaruhu wa-jazāʾiruhu
(The wonders of India: its lands, sea and islands) by Abū Muḥammad al-Ḥasan ibn ʻAbd al-Raḥmān ibn Khallād al-Rāmahurmuzī (d. 342/953), copied by Muḥammad bin al-Qaṭṭān in 904/1498. MS 3606, Ayasofya Library (Turkey).

Papyrus was in use as early as 3,000 BC and played a crucial role in the development of ancient Egyptian civilisation; indeed the papyrus plant became the symbol of Lower Egypt as far back as the predynastic period, in the 4th millennium BC.[4] From at least the 1st millennium BC, papyrus had a rival in parchment, which was an excellent writing material. Papyrus, however, was easier to manufacture than parchment.[5] Although parchment was widely used in other parts of the Classical world, papyrus retained its importance in Egypt throughout the Greek and Roman periods.[6] The use of papyrus was taken over by the Arabs when they conquered Egypt in the 7th century AD, and it continued as the main writing material of the country until the 10th century AD. By this time it could no longer compete with paper, which was cheaper to produce.

Unlike papyrus, the manufacture of paper was not dependent on raw material that was, for the most part, exclusive to Egypt. Paper was first manufactured in the Islamic world in Samarqand, having been introduced there from China in the 2nd/8th century, and came into general use in the Eastern Islamic lands earlier than in the Western lands. In the reign of the caliph Hārūn al-Rashīd (170/786—193/809) paper began to be used in government offices.[7] Writing in the 9th century AD, al-Jāḥiẓ tells us that "the papyri of Egypt are for the West what the papers of Samarqand are for the East (qarāṭīs Miṣr li-l-maghrib ka-kawāghid Samarqand li-l-mashriq)”.[8] Paper was used sporadically in Egypt in the 9th century but did not constitute a rival to papyrus until the 10th century. By the middle of the 10th century paper had supplanted papyrus in Egypt and the manufacture of papyrus had almost completely ceased.[9] Ibn Ḥawqal, Who visited Egypt in 359/969, mentions the papyrus plant but makes no reference to the use of papyrus in Egypt as a writing material.[10] Writing in 375/985-6, al-Maqdisī mentions paper as one of the products of Egypt but does not refer to the manufacture of papyrus.[11] From al-Mas‘ūdī Writing in 956 AD, however, we learn that papyrus manufacture was not completely defunct in Egypt in the 10th century,[12] and it also appears that papyrus still had some marginaluses at this period, such as for amulets,[13] or for medical treatment,[14] although it was not the common writing material.

Further west in the Maghreb the transition to paper was even later. In this region parchment was the predominant writing material until the 11th century AD. [15]

We learn from Ibn Ḥawqal that in the second half of the 10th century papyrus was still used by the Arabs in Sicily for chancery correspondence,[16] and some papyri found in Egypt were originally written elsewhere.[17]

During the long period of Egyptian history when papyrus was in use, the languages current in the country changed so that the surviving materials fall into the sphere of specialists in ancient Egyptian, Greek, Coptic and Arabic. By the time of the Arab conquest Egyptian had long been replaced by Greek and Coptic, which were soon replaced by Arabic in most contexts. Coptic continued to be used by the Egyptian Christians of the Monophysite rite, but Greek had fallen out of use by the 8th century AD; one vestige of its former importance was the use of Greck numerals in early accounts in Arabic.

Extant Arabic Papyri

Grohmann estimated that there were approximately 16,000 Arabic Papyri in the various collections that he was familiar with in Europe, North America and Cairo.[18] This figure apparently refers only to moderately well-preserved documents. The total number of extant papyrus fragments containing Arabic writing is far higher.[19] The vast majority are documents of some sort, while the minority contain literary texts. The first category includesaccounts, legal deeds, administrative documents drawn up by government officials, and private letters. Some of the lettersofferintimate glimpses of everyday life in early Islamic Egypt. Others were written by merchants as part of their commercial activities and tell us a great  deal about trade in the early Islamic period. Aswell as providing evidence for social and economic history, many of these documents supply material for other areas of study: hundreds of place names mentioned in the papyri add considerably to our knowledge of the topography of Egypt at this period, and papyrus letters and legal deeds furnish abundant primary source material for the study of Arabic diplomatics. In addition, both the literary and the documentary papyri are important sources for the study of the Arabic script and of the development of the Arabic language,

The literary papyri include the earliest known fragments of many works in Arabic, such as the biography of the Prophet Muḥammad by Ibn Hishām, the Muwaṭṭa’ of Mālik b. Anas, the tales of the Arabian Nights and Arabic poetry.[20] They also include parts of other works that were previously thought to havebeen lost, such as the compilation of traditions about the Prophet Muḥammad and King David attributed to Wahb b. Munabbih and the collections of legal precedents of ‘Abd Allāh b. Wahb and ‘Abd Allāh b. Lahī‘a,[21]

Many medieval European papyri have been preserved in church and papal archives,[22] but no archives containing such material in Arabic have survived. As a result, the only Arabic Papyri that are extant have been recovered from the ground, either as the result of chance finds or of official archaeological excavations, Many of them have been found in rubbish heaps on the edges of towns, where the residents have been discarding all sorts of waste, including Papyri for which they no longer had any use, since antiquity, Other papyri were found in the ruins of ancient buildings, often preserved in sealed jars.[23] It was in a jar of this type that Egyptian peasants discovered two Arabic papyri at Saqqārah in 1824; the discipline of Arabic papyrology was founded by the publication of these documents by the French scholar Silvestre de Sacy in 1825 and 1831[24]

In the second half of the 19th century large numbers of Arabic papyri were found at various sites in the Fayyūm, as well as at sites lying further south, including al-Bahnasā (Oxyrhynchus), al-Ushmūnayn (Hermopolis Magna), Kom Eshqaw (Aphrodito), Ikhmīm (Panopolis), al-Gabalayn (Pathyris), Edfū (Apollinopolis), Dandara and Aswan. Lower Egypt has proved far less productive, no doubt because the soil conditions are less conducive to the preservation of organic material. Nevertheless, several thousand pieces have been found in the ruins of Fusṭāṭ.[25]

Most of the major collections of Arabic papyri consist of material originating from the sites in Upper Egypt. This applies to the collections in the National Library in Cairo, the Oriental Institute in Chicago, the Staatliche Museen in Berlin, the Staats- und Universitäts-Bibliothek in Hamburg, the Institut für Papyrologie at Heidelberg University, the Louvre and the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, the British Library in London, the John Rylands University Library in Manchester, the Bodleian Library and Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, the former collection of the Archduke Rainer in Vienna, and the Wessely Collection in Prague.[26] Only a few collections contain material that originated predominantly from Fusṭāṭ. These include the collections of Arabic papyri in the Museum of Islamic Art, Cairo,[27] the collection formerly in the possession of G. Michaelides of Cairo and now in Cambridge University Library, and the Khalili collection in London.

Published papyri

Publication of the important pieces in the collections from Upper Egyptian sites began at the end of the last century. Two Arabic papyri, one of which is now in the Staatliche Museen in Berlin (P, Berol. 8505) and the other in the Universitätsbibliothek in Leipzig, were published in 1880 by Loth,while they were still in the possession of the author.[28] These were the first Arabic papyrus documents to be made available since the appearance of the documents from Saqqāra published by Silvestre de Sacy in the first half of the century and subsequently republished on a number of occasions.[29] It should be noted, however, that a few Arabic protocol texts on papyrus (for which see below) were published before the appearance of Loth's article, e.g. an Arabic protocol at the beginning of a scroll containing a bull of Pope John VIII of 876 AD in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris,[30] and three Arabic protocols at the beginning of Coptic documents from the Egyptian Museum, Cairo.[31]

[32]The nascent discipline of Arabic papyrology was given a sound foundation by a series of masterly studies of selected papyri and paper documents from the Erzherzog Rainer collection by Karabacek.[33] He also made short descriptions Of 366 Arabic papyri from the Vienna collection in the exhibition catalogue Führer durch die Ausstellung (PERF 550-916).[34] Grohmann published the Arabic and bilingual (Arabic-Greek) papyrus protocol texts from the Erzherzog Rainer collection[35] and had planned to publish a subsequent volume of administrative documents, but due to the economic depression in Austria the volume could not be printed. Many of these documents were eventually published in a series of articles.[36] Grohmann, whose [37]manifold publications dominate the field of Arabic papyrology, also edited corpora of documents from other collections, the largest of which include his editions of papyri from the Egyptian Library,[38] the Staatlichen Museen in Berlin,[39] and the Wessely collection in Prague.[40] In each case he culled from the collection miscellaneous documents that were suitable for publication. (Asmall corpus of the papyri from Berlin had been published earlier by Abel.)[41] Other monograph publications of miscellaneous documents from a single collection include those of Dietrich(Hamburg),[42] Margoliouth (Manchester)[43] and khan (London),[44]  while Dietrich and, more recentlv, Diem have published volumes devoted to Arabic papyrus letters from the collections of Hamburg[45] and Heidelberg[46] respectively.

In 1901 a cache of papyrus letters written by Qurra b. Sharik. The Umayyad governor of Egypt from 90-96/709—714, was discovered in the Upper Egyptian villaoe of Kom Eshqaw, 7 km south-west of Ṭimā, formerly known as Aphrodito in the Greek sources. Some of these letters are written in Arabic, some in Greek, and some are bilingual (Arabic and Greek). They subsequently found their way into various papyrus collections. The Arabic and bilingual letters in the Heidelberg collection were published by Becker, who also brought together Arabic letters of Qurra b. Sharīk from several different collections.[47] Abbott edited the Arabic letters of this governor in the Oriental Institute of Chicago.[48] Those in the Egyptian Library were included in Grohmann’s publication of papyri from that collection.[49] Afragment of a letter from Qurra in St Petersburg was published by Jernstedt.[50] More recently Rāghib has published Qurra letters that have been discovered in the Sorbonne.[51] These letters of Qurra b. Sharīk cast a great deal of light on the otherwise poorly documented Umayyad administration of Egypt.

Becker's works on the Qurra papyri[52] were the first publications to gather together papyri of the same type from various collections. The same approach was taken by Grohmann in his volume on protocol texts[53] which, in addition to the material in the Rainer collection, also contains all the Arabic and bilingual protocols in other collections that were known to the author at the time of writing. Jahn made a study of formulae in Arabic letters and published a short corpus of Arabic papyrus letters from the collections in Vienna and Heidelberg.[54] Rāghib has gathered together from various papyrus collections letters and documents from the archives of a family of merchants.[55] Most recently a chrestomathy of Arabic papyri, based on material compiled by Grohmann and containing samples of many types of documents from various collections, has been published by Khoury.[56] Furthermore, all known papyri written in Judaeo- Arabic (i.e. Arabic in Hebrew script) have been assembled from various collections and published together by Blau and Hopkins.[57]

The analysis of the Arabic papyrus documents in most of the aforementioned publications concentrates on details of theirsocio-economic setting, the background of personal names, theidentification of place names and comparisons with other extant documents with regard to certain words and phrases. The grammar of Arabic papyri has now been systematically examined by Hopkins,[58] while Diem, in his recent volume of Arabic letters from Heidelberg, has contributed both to the studv of the grammar and the formulaic phraseology employed.[59]

Several Arabic papyri have been discovered at sites outside Egypt: two Arabic papyri from Damascus are now in the Oriental Institute, Chicago;[60] a small number were unearthed at Sāmarrā' by the German excavations of 1911 ;[61] thirteen Arabic papyri from the period 52/672-70/689 were discovered at ‘Awjā’ al- Ḥafīr (Nessana), near Be’ersheva, by the H. Dunscombe Colt expedition of 1936-7;[62] and a large number of papyri, most of which date from the first two centuries AH and nearly all of which are in a very fragmentary condition, were discovered in Khirbat al-Mird in the Judaean desert in the 1950s.[63]

The papyrus roll and its manufacture

Evidence concerning the cultivation of papyrus in antiquity comes from the accounts of Classical authors, who recorded that the plant was grown in plantations, many of which were located in the swampy areas of the Delta.[64] Moreover, two extant Greek papyri from the early Roman period ــــــ one of 13-14 BC and the other of 5 BC ــــــ contain leases of papyrus plantations.[65] It ispresumed that this type of cultivation in plantations was continued during the first few centuries after the Arab conquest of Egypt in 640 AD, although we have no direct evidence for this. We also know from Classical sources that papyrus grew in Mesopotamia, along the Euphrates,[66] and this was apparently still the case in the early Arab period. Papyrus plants were also cultivated in Sicily well into the Middles Ages, but according to Ibn Hawqal most of the papyrus grown there was used to make cordage for ships, and the small amount of writing material that was produced was for the exclusive use of the sultan.[67]

Arabic sources, such as Abū Ṣāliḥ and al-Ya‘qūbī, mention numerous papyrus mills that were active in Egypt in the early Islamic period,[68] as well as one in Sāmarrā' which was established by the caliph al-Mu‘taṣim in 221/836.[69] Egyptian papyrus mills were also mentioned in the Arabic protocols placed at the beginning of papyrus rolls.[70]

A systematic description of the manufacture of papyrus in Classical antiquity was given by Pliny the Elder,[71] who reported that the strips were laid on boards moistened with water from the Nile, whose mud content served as a binder.[72] Modern analysis of ancient papyri has revealed that the strips were held together by the natural gummy substance contained in the cell sap of the papyrus pith and released when the plant cells were crushed, and the Nile water appears to have had no agglutinative function at all.[73] The papyrus was dried and then rubbed smooth with a piece of ivory or a shell, and, as the final stage in the process, a mallet was used to beat flat any remaining puckers, ridges or similar imperfections in the surface.[74]

The only description of the manufacture of papyrus in the Arabic sources is by Abū al-‘Abbās al-Nabātī, who died in 637/1239 and, therefore, lived in a period long after papyrus had ceased to be produced.[75] According to al-Nabātī, the Egyptians of former times split the stalk of the papyrus into two halves and cut the pith vertically into strips. The strips were laid out side by side on a smooth piece of wood, and a second row of strips was laid over them at right angles. Unlike Pliny, al-Nabātī referred explicity to the use of an artificial adhesive (luzūja). He recorded that the two layers of papyrus were pressed together and Stuck with an agglutinative substance produced by dissolving seeds of the blue lotus (Nymphaea coerulea Sav.) in water. When dry, the sheet was beaten with a wooden beetle until all roughness was removed from it.

The size of papyrus sheets varied considerably in the Arab period. Grohmann has found that they ranged in width from 12.7 cm to 37 cm, and in height from 30 m to 58 cm.[76] Similar variations were found in the width and height of papyri in antiquity.[77]

In the Arab period, as in the Classical period, different qualitites of papyrus were produced. The Romans had terms for these - charta emporitica (commercial papyrus) for rough sheets not suitable for writing and used for wrapping merchandise, and Augusta and Liviana for extremely thin varieties.[78] An inferior type of papyrus corresponding to charta emporitica appears to have been used in the Arab period, for there are a number of references in Arabic papyri to the use of papyrus sheets forwrapping items such as jewels, medicine and garments.[79] Some Arabic official documents are written on particularly fine Papyrus.[80]

Papyrus was not sold by the manufacturer as separate sheets but the sheets were pasted together to from a roll. One reason for this may have been that papyrus tended to fray at the edges. The vertical edges of sheets are particularly liable to damage by handling. In a roll thes edges were eliminated. The sheets overlapped at the joins by varying amounts, usually about 2 cm in both the Greek and the Arab period.[81] The right edge of each sheet covered the left edge of the following sheet. Any roughness in the joins was smoothed down with the result that they did not offer any obstacle to the pen and were barely visible On the Inside surface facing inwards the papyrus fibres ran parallel to the length of the roll (i.e. its long axis). This arragement was designed to minimise the chance of fibres cming apart. The vertical fibres on the outside are bent away from each other when rolled. If they were on the inside they would pushed against one another and liable to spring loose. Moreover, if the horizontal fibres were on the outside the sheet joins would subjected to strain when the roll was rolled up and the ends of the fibres liable to fray.

The scribe wrote on the protected inside of the roll. If there was cause to write on both sides, the inside of the roll was always written on first. We may, therefore, refer to the inward facing side as the recto and the outward facins side as the verso. When a piece cut off the roll for a document or letter the scribe likewise wrote on the side that was originally inside the roll. In the Arab period nearly all the extant documents on the recto of the papyrus were written perpendicular to the fibres. That the side in question was the inside of the roll is shown by the fact that any joins of sheets that occur in the extant documents are parallel with the lines of writing. The practice of writing documents across the fibres is found in papyi since antiquity.

Lengthy documents had the form of rotuli, i.e. rolls that are unrolled vertically. Literary texts, on the other hand, were usually written on the roll in columns, with the lines running parallel with the fibres and perpendicular to the joins of the sheets. This type of roll was read horizontally. In the Byzantine period there was an increasing use of the codex for literary texts, and in the Arab period most of the extant papyri containing Arabic literary texts are aldo leaves from codices. However, the papyrus roll in Heidelberg containing the collection of traditions of ‘Abd Allāh b. Lahī’a[82] written in the form of a rotulus.

The reason why documents were written across the fibres may have been to economise on papyrus. If the scribe wrote a short document along the fibres and cut it from the roll he would be likely to leave an awkward shape at the end of the roll.[83]

In both the Greek and Arab periods the first sheet of the roll was preceded by a preliminary sheet (protokollon) which, when attached, was turned back to front so that its fibres were vertical on the inside surface of the roll. In other words the fibres of the preliminary sheet were perpendicular to the fibres of the sheets in the rest of the roll. The purpose of this was to prevent the fibres of the first sheet from fraying. [84]

The inner side of this preliminary sheet bore a text known as the protocol. This was written in Greek, following the Byzantine tradition, until 74/693-4 or 75/694—5, when, at the instance of the caliph e ‘Abd al-Malik, bilingual (Greek and Arabic) protocols were introduced, and from the time of the caliph Hishām (reg. 724—43 AD) texts in Arabic alone were placed in this position. The Arabic protocols contained the basmala; various religious formulae, including the Quranic verses 3: 173, 9:33 and 9:61, and a prayer for the Prophet (taṣliya); the names of the current caliph, the governor of Egypt or the head of the provincial treasury or both, and sometimes those of other high-ranking officials; and the name of the place where the papyrus was produced and often also the name of the supervisor of the papyrus mill. It appears that the manufacture of papyrus was a state monopoly in the Arab period, as it was in pre-lslamic Egypt, and the function of the protocol texts was to certify that a roll was produced by a state papyrus mill and so to protect the monopoly.[85]

All the extant protocol texts in Arabic were written with thick strokes, possibly produced by a brush, and in some of the later protocols coloured inks were used for parts of the text. The protocol sheet was sometimes cut off the roll and the reverse reused for other texts.

The protocol sheet, which was, of course, wrapped around the outside of the papyrus roll, was generally made of thicker papyrus than the other sheets. Sometimes rolls were given the additional protection of parchment wrappers or were stored in receptacles of a hard material such as glass or Clay. We learn from Pliny that in the Roman period a papyrus roll consisted of 20 sheets,[86] and this also appears to have been the case in the Arab period. Papyrus was sold either in complete rolls or in sections constituting one sixth of the roll. Such sections were known in Arabic as ṭūmār, from Greek tomarion. The length of segments of papyrus shorter than a 20-sheet roll were usually expressed as multiples or fractions of a ṭūmār.[87] Sometimes a small segment was referred to simply as qiṭ‘at qirṭās (“a piece of papyrus”).

Most Arabic papyri were written with a split reed pen (qalam). This had the same form as the Roman calamus, from which it derived its name. In some papyri the split reed has left a double line in the strokes of the letters. Occasionally the papyri bear an exceedingly thick script which must have been written with another type of instrument, possibly a bulrush cut on a slant or a brush. The ink was usually made from soot and is black in colour, but one sometimes finds a rusty-brown ink, which was presumably made from gallnuts.[88]

Papyrus was relatively expensive. A roll could cost as much as one and a half dīnārs in the 9th century AD, a time when one dīnār was the annual rent of a faddān of arable land or of a shop, for example. As a result, most people took pains to use papyrus economically, and the blank verso of a sheet was frequently used to write another text. Sometimes this second text had no relationship to the text on the recto, but on occasion the addressee of a letter used the blank verso to write his reply, although this was considered to be impolite. When the caliph al-Mu‘taṣim received a letter from the Byzantine emperor, for example, he had his reply written on the reverse, clearly with the intention of expressing his contempt for the emperor. The authors of replies written on the verso of the original letter often felt obliged to apologise, and in doing so they usually employed the formula i'dhirnī fī al-qirṭās (“forgive me concerning the papyrus”).

In this paper I have given a brief survey of the growth of the discipline of Arabic papyrology and a description of various codicological aspects of Arabic papyri. I have made only fleeting reference to the importance of such papyri for the study of Arabic script, language and history.

In most respects Arabic papyrology is still relatively undeveloped. Its potential has certainly not been realised to the same extent as Greek papyrology. Thousands of Arabic papyri that have been preserved in the various collections remain unpublished. It is clearly a desideratum for these texts to be made available in published editions and for them to be granted the scholarly attention they deserve.

[1] S. Fraenkel, Die aramäischen Fremdwörter im Arabischen (Leiden, 1886), 245. As a writing material papyrus was occasionally referred to as waraq al-bardī or waraq al-qaşab; cf. R. Sellheim, s.v. “Ḳirṭās”, Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed (Leiden and London, 1960-), V, 173.

[2] A. Grohmann, From the World of Arabic Papyri (Cairo, 1952), 1.

[3] N. Lewis, Papyrus in Classical Antiquity (Oxford, 1974), 57-61.

[4] The Cambridge Ancient History, ed. I. A. S. Edwards, C. J. Gadd  and N. G. L. Hammond, 3rd ed, 1/2 (Cambridge, 1971), 7.

[5] C. H. Roberts and T. C. Skeat, The Birth of the Codex (Oxford, 1987), 10.

[6] Lewis, Papyrus in Classical Antiquity.

[7] Ibn Khaldūn, Kitāb al-‘Ibar (Būlāq, 1284 [1867]), I, 352 ; al-Maqrīzī. Kitāb al-Mawāʻiẓ wa-l-i'tibār bi-dhikr al-khiṭaṭ wa l-āthār,(Būlāq, 1270 [1853], I, 91: al-Qalgashandī, Ṣubḥ al-a ‘shā (Būlāq, 1903), I, 578; ibid (Cairo, 1331-8/1913-18), II, 475.

[8] al-Tha‘ālibī, Laṭā’if al-ma‘ārif, ed. P. de Jong (Leiden, 1867), 97; cf. al-Suyūṭī, Ḥusn al-muḥāḍara (Būlāq, 1299 [1882]), II, 238. It is wort  noting, however, that a document in the Khalili collection from northern Mesopotamia which is datable to c. 240/854-5 is written on papyrus (see G. Khan, Arabic Papyri. Selected Material from the Khalili Collection, Studies in the Khalili Collection, I [London and Oxford, 1992], no. 6).

[9] J. von Karabacek,Das arabische Papier. Eine historisch-antiquarischeUntersuchung”, Mittheilungen aus der Sammlung der Papyrus Erzherzog Rainer, II-III (Vienna,1887), 98; Papyrus Erzherzog Rainer.Führer durch die Ausstellung, ed. Karabacek et al. (Vienna, 1894), 245.

[10] Ibn Ḥawqal, Kitāb al-Masālik wa-l-mamālik, ed. M. J. de Goeje (Leiden, 1873), 86.

[11] al-Maqdisī (or al-Muqaddasī), Kitāb Aḥsan al-taqāsīm fī ma‘rifat al-aqālīm, ed. M. J. de Goeje (Leiden, 1877), 32ff., 193ff., 202ff.

[12] al-Mas‘udī, Kitāb al-Tanbīh wa-l-ishrāf, Notices et Extraits des Manuscrits de la Bibliothèque Nationale, VIII (Paris, 1810), 146.

[13] Karabacek, “Das arabische Papier”, 100-1.

[14] Ibn al-Bayṭār, al-Jāmi‘ li-mufradāt al-adwiya wa-l-aghdhiya (Būlāq, 1291 [1875]), I, 86-7.

[15] S. D. Goitein, A Mediterranean Society, I (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1967), 112.

[16] Ibn Ḥawqal, al-Masālik wa-l-mamālik, 86.

[17] e.g. Khan, Arabic Papyri, no. 6, an account which was drawn up in a Nestorian monastery in Mesopotamia c. 240/854-5.

[18] Grohmann, From the World of Arabic Papyri, 2.

[19] See S. A. Hopkins, Studies in the Grammar of Early Arabic, Based upon Papyri Datable to Before 300 AH/912 AD (Oxford, 1984), xli, n. 3.

[20] For these and other works, see N. Abbott bott. "A Ninth-century Fragment of the Thousand Nights. New Light on the Early History of the Arabian Nights”, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, VIII (1949), 129-64 ; idem Studies in Arabic Literary Papyri, I-III (Chicago, 1957-72).

[21] See R. G. Khoury, Wahb ibn Munabbih (Wiesbaden 1972) ; J. David-Weill, Le Djāmi‘ d'Ibn Wahb (Cairo, 1939-48); R. G Khoury, ‘Abdallāh ibn Lahī‘a (97-174/115–790). Juge et grand maître de l'école égyptienne (Wiesbaden, 1986).

[22] H. Bresslau, Handbuch der Urkundenlehre für Deutschland und Italien (Leipzig, 1931), 479-92.Many of the papyrus documents in theEuropean archives have been reproduced in a series published by A. Brucknerand R. Marichal, Chartae Latinae Antiquiores. Fascimile Edition of the Latin Charters Prior to the Ninth Century (Olten and Lausanne, 1954-).

[23] 23 Grohmann, From the World of Arabic Papyri, 8.

[24] A.Silvestre de Sacy, “Mémoire sur quelques papyrus écrits en arabe et récemmentdécouverts en Egypte”, Journal des Savans (1825), 462-73; idem, “Mémoire sur quelques papyrus écrits en arabe et récemment trouvés en Egypte”, Histoire et Mémoires de l'Institut Royal de France, Académie des Inscriptions et Belle-lettres, IX (1931), Mémoires, 66-85. The papyri arenow in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris (MSS arabes 4633-4).

[25] For more details of these discoveries, see Grohmann, From the World of Arabic Papyri, 11, 214-7;idem, Einführung und Chrestomathie zur arabischen Papyruskunde, I, Einführung (Prague, 1954), 7-35.

[26] Grohmann, Einführung und Chrestomathie, 36-62.

[27] ibid, 27.

[28] O. Loth, “Zwei arabische Papyrus”, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, XXXIV (1880), 685-91.

[29] The Saqqāra documents were republished in the following place : J. B. Silvestre, Paléographie universelle, I, Peuples orientaux (Paris, 1830), 190-2, pl. 1; idem, Universal Palaeography (tr. into English with corrections and notes by F. Madden, London, 1850), 84ff, pl. xxix ; W. Wright (ed), The Palaeographical Society, Facsimiles. Manuscripts and Inscriptions (Oriental Series) (London, 1875-83), pl. 5.

[30] M. Champollion-Figeac, Chartes latines sur papyrus, du VIe siècle de l'ère chrétienne, appartenant à la Bibliothèque Royale (Paris, 1835), pl. 1.

[31] F. Lenormant, Essai sur la propogation de l'alphabet phénicien dans l'ancien monde (Paris, 1872), pls. 19-21; E. Revillout, Mélanges

= d'épigraphie et de linguistique égyptienne, Mélanges d'Archéologie Egyptienne et Assyrienne, II (Paris, 1875), pl. 1ff, 194; idem, Actes et contracts des Musées égyptiens de Boulaq et du Louvre, I, Études Egyptologiques, V (Paris, 1876), 1, 90, 94.

[32] J. von Karabacek: “Der Papyrusfund von El-Faijûm”, Denkschriften der kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften: philosophisch-historische Classe[Vienna], XXXIII (1883), Erste Abtheilung. 207-42; “Eine merkwürdige arabische Namensunterschrift”, Mittheilungen aus der Sammlung der Papyrus Erzherzog Rainer, I (Vienna, 1886), 126: “Das arabische Papier” [see n. 9 above], 87-178; “Neue Quellen zur Papiergeschichte”, Mittheilungen aus der Sammlung der Papyrus Erzherzog Rainer, IV (Vienna, 1888), 75-122; “Die Involutio im arabischenSchriftwesen”, Sitzungsberichte der kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften: philosophisch-historische Classe [Vienna],CXXXV, (1896),Abhandlung no. 5, 1-26.

[33] Papyrus Erzherzog Rainer. Führer durch die Ausstellung, ed. Karabacek et al. [Vienna, 1894], 137-243. Karabacek had prepared a fulledition of 350 documents which was to appear as a volume in the series Corpus Papyrorum Raineri but this work was never completed(see Grohmann, Einführung und Chrestomathie, 57).

[34] A. Grohmannn, Protokolle, Corpus Papyrorum Raineri Archiducis Austriae, III, Series Arabica, 1/2 (Vienna, 1924).

[35] Grohmann: “Aperçu de papyrologie arabe”, Études de Papyrologie, I (1932), 23-95; “Ein Qorra-Brief vom Jahre 90 d.H”, Aus fünf Jahrtausenden morgenländischer Kultur Festschrift Max Freiherrn von Oppenheim zum 70. Geburtstage (Berlin, 1933), 37-40; “Eine arabischer Grundsteuerquittung

= vom Jahre 297 d.H. (909/10 n. Chr.) aus dem Amtsbereich eines ‘Abbasidenprinzen”, Mémoires publiées par les membres de l'Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale du Caire, LXVIII (1935-40) (Mélanges Maspéro, III), 9-13; “Texte zur Wirtschaftsgeschichte Ӓgyptens in arabischer Zeit”, Archiv Orientální, VII (1935), 437-72; “Ein arabischer Steuerpapyrus aus der Sammlung der Papyrus Erzherzog Rainer”, Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche, XXXVII (1938), 52-3;“Einige bemerkenswerte Urkunden aus der Sammlung der Papyrus Erzherzog Rainer an der Nationalbibliothek zu Wien”. Archiv Orientální, XVII/3 (1950), 80-119.

[36] Grohmann, Arabic Papyri in the Egyptian Library (6 vols, Cairo, 1935-62).

[37] Grohmann, “Arabische Papyri aus den Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin”, Der Islam, XXII (1935), 1-68.

[38] Grohmann, “Arabische Papyri aus der Sammlung Carl Wessely im orientalischen Institut (Orientální Ustav) zu Prag”, Archiv Orientální X (1938), 149-62 (nos 1-8); XI (1939), 242-89 (nos 9-28); XII (1941), 1-112 (nos 29-49); XIV (1943) 161-260 (nos 50-96).

[39] L Abel (ed), Aegyptische Urkunden aus den königlichen Museen zu Berlin. Arabische Urkunden (2 parts, Berlin, 1896-1900)

[40] A. Dietrich, Arabische Papyri aus der Hamburger Staats- und Universtitäts-Bibliothek, Abhandlungen für die Kundedes Morgenlandes,XXII/3 (Leipzig, 1937).

[41] D. S. Margoliouth, Catalogue of Arabic Papyri in the John Rylands Library, Manchester (Manchester, 1933).

[42] G. Khan, Arabic Papyri [see n. 8 above]; idem, Bills Letter and Deeds. Arabic Papyri of the 7th to 11th Centuries, The Nasser D.khalili Collection of Islamic Art, VI (London and Oxford, 1993).

[43] A. Dietrich, Arabische Briefe aus der Papyrussamlung der Hamburger Staats- und Universtitäts-Bibliothek, Veröffentlichungen aus der Hamburger Staats- und Universitäts-Bibliothek, V (Hamburg, 1955).

[44] W. Diem, Arabische Briefe auf Papyrus und Papier aus der Heidelberger papyrus-Sammlung (Wiesbaden, 1991).

[45] C. H. Becker: Papyri Schott-Reinhardt, I, Veröffentlichungen aus der Heidelberger Papyrus-Sammlung, III/1 (Heidelberg, 1906); “Arabische Papyri des Aphroditofundes”, Zeitschrift für Assyrologie und verwandte Gebiete, XX (1907), 68-104; “Neue arabische Papyri des Aphroditofundes”, Der Islam, II (1911), 245-68.

[46] N. Abbott, The Kurrah Papyri from Aphrodito in the Oriental Institute (Chicago, 1938).

[47] Grohmann, Arabic Papyri in the Egyptian Library, 146-163.

[48] P. Jernstedt, “Die Kome-Aphrodito Papyri der SammlungLichačov”, in G. Zereteli, (ed.), Papyri Russicher und Georgischer Sammlungen, IV (Tiflis, 1927), 92-3.

[49] Y. Rāghib, “Lettres nouvelles de Qurra b. Sharīk”, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, XL (1981), 173-87.

[50] Becker, Papyri Schott-Reinhardt.

[51] Grohmann, Protokolle.

[52] K. Jahn, “Vom frühislamischen Briefwesen. Studien zur islamischen Epistolographie der ersten drei Jahrhunderte der HIğra auf Grund der arabischen Papyri”, Archiv Orientální, IX (1937), 153-200.

[53] Y. Rāghib, Marchands d'étoffe du Fayyoum au IIIe /IXe siècle, d'après leurs archives (actes et lettres), I-II, Suppléments aux Annales Islamologiques, II, V (Cairo, 1982-5).

[54] R. G. Khoury, Chrestomathie de papyrologie arabe, préparée par Adolf Grohmann; retravaillée et élargie par Raif Georges Khoury (Leiden, New York and Cologne, 1993).

[55] J. Blau and S. Hopkins, “Judaeo-Arabic Papyri - Collected, Edited, Translated and Analysed", Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam, IX (1987), 87-160

[56] Hopkins, Studies in the Grammar of Early Arabic[see n. 19 above].

[57] Diem, Arabische Briefe.

[58] N. Abbot, “Arabic Papyri of the Reign of Ğa‘far al-Mutawakkil ‘alā-allāh (AH 232-471AD 847-61)”, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, XCII (1938), 88-135.

[59] E. Herzfeld, Erster vorläufiger Bericht über die Ausgragungen von Samarra (Berlin, 1912), pl. xxxvi b.

[60] C. J. Kraemer, “The Colt Papyri from Palestine”, Actes du ve congrès international de papyrologie (Brussels, 1938), 238-44; idem, Excavations at Nessana, III (Princeton, 1958).

[61] A selection was published by Grohmann, Arabic Papyri from Khirbet el-Mird (Louvain, 1963). For the literary papyri, see the publications of Abbott and Khoury referred to above (nn. 20 and 21).

[62] e.g. Theophrastus, Historia Plantarum, ed. F. Wimmer (Leipzig,1854). IV. xviii. 3; Strabo, Geographica, ed. G. Kramer (Berlin, 1852), XVII. i. 15; Pliny. Naturalis Historia, ed. C. Mayhoff (Leipzig, 1875), XIII. xxii. 71.

[63] Aegyptische Urkunden aus den königlichen Museen zu Berlin. Griechische Urkunden, IV (Berlin, 1904-12),nos. 1121, 1180.

[64] Pliny, Naturalis Historia, XIII. xxii. 73. The papyrus plant seems to have been introduced into Mesopotamia by the Seleucids in the 3rd century BC, probably because of the interruptions in the supply from Ptolemaic Egypt; see Lewis, Papyrus in Classical Antiquity, 11.

[65] Ibn Ḥawqal, al-Masālik wa-l-mamālik, 86.

[66] Abū Ṣāliḥ, The Churches and Monasteries of Egypt and Some Neighbouring Countries Attributed to Abu Salih, the Armenian, ed. and tr. B. T. A. Evetts(Oxford, 1895), 66; al-Ya‘qūbī, Kitāb al-Buldān, ed. M. J. de Goeje (Leiden, 1892), 126, 127.

[67] al-Ya‘qūbī, al-Buldān, 39; idem, Tārīkh, ed. M. T. Houtsma (Leiden, 1883), II, 577.

[68] e.g. Grohmann, Protokolle, nos. 116, 140, 162, 204.

[69] Pliny, Naturalis Historia, XIII. xxiii. 74 - xxvi. 82.

[70] ibid. XIII. xxiii. 77.

[71] Lewis, Papyrus in Classical Antiquity, 47-9.

[72] Pliny, Naturalis Historia, XIII. xxv. 81.

[73] The description was included by al-Nabātī's pupil Ibn al-Bayṭār in his Jāmi‘, (1, 87).

[74] Grohmann, Allgemeine Einführung in die arabischen Papvri nebst Grundzügen der arabischen Diplomatik, Corpus Papyrorum Rainer Archiducis Austriae,III, Series Arabica, I/1 (Vienna, 1924), 40-1.

[75] Pliny, Naturalis Historia, XIII. xxiv. 78; Lewis, Papyrus in Classical Antiquity, 56.

[76] See Pliny, Naturalis Historia, XIII. xxiii. 74, 76. Isidore of Seville (Origines, ed. W. M. Lindsay [Oxford, 1911), VI, 10) reports slightly different names for these grades of papyrus: emporetica, Augustea and Libyana.

[77] Khan, Arabic Papyri, 149.

[78] khan, Arabic papyri, nos. 1 and2.

[79] Grohmann, Allgemeine Einführung, 42

[80] See references cited in note 21, p. 4 of this article.

[81] For details concerning papyrus rolls, see E. G. Turner, “The Terms Recto and Verso. The Anatomy of the Papyrus Roll”, Actes du XVe Congrès International de Papyrologie, première partie (Brussels, 1978), 15-

[82] ibid, 21.

[83] Grohmann, From the World of Arabic Papyri, 39-42.

[84] Pliny, Naturalis Historia, XIII. xxiii. 77.

[85] Grohmann, From the World of Arabic Papyri, 43-4.

[86]  ibid, 62-8.

Source note:

This article was published in the following book:

The Codicology of Islamic Manuscripts: Proceedings of the second conference of Al_Furqān Islamic Heritage Foundation, 4_5 December 1993_ English version, 1995, Al-Furqān Islamic Heritage Foundation, London, UK, pp. 1-16.

Please note that some of the images used in this online version of this article might not be part of the published version of this article within the respective book.
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