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All Books and Software: Language Reference: Texts, Grammars, Lexicons, Studies: Arabic

The Development of the Arabic Scripts

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The Development of the Arabic Scripts

From the Nabatean Era to the First Islamic Century

by Beatrice Gruendler

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In this volume, Beatrice Gruendler addresses a perplexing problem -- the development of Arabic script from its ancestor alphabet, Nabatean. Her work sorts through texts, inscriptions, and papyri to piece together the evolutionary trail of the Arabic alphabet. Profusely illustrated with line drawings and charts, this study will remain a sourcebook for researching the history of Arabic.

Product Details

Publisher: Harvard Semitic Museum
Publication date: 1993
Bibliographic info: 192 pages
Language(s): English


Cover: Cloth



It is now generally accepted that Arabic script had its roots in Nabatean. This was first proposed by Theodor Noldeke during the last century and was proved by A. Grohmann, who rejected a competing theory that it was derived from Syriac script. In the present volume, B. Gruendler builds on the work of Grohmann and examines the details of the development of Arabic script from Nabatean. The core of the work is a series of charts that record the forms of individual letters in a corpus of Nabatean and early Arabic texts arranged in chronological order. The corpus of texts represents styles of writing found on a variety of materials (stone, papyrus, and others). The texts in Nabatean script include inscriptions, ostraca, a papyrus, and a graffito dating from the second century B.C.E. to the middle of the fourth century C.E. The latest of the texts includes the Namara inscription, which although written in the Arabic language, is still written in Nabatean script. The Arabic material is divided into pre-Islamic and early Islamic texts. The pre-Islamic Arabic texts include inscriptions and graffiti from the early fourth century C.E. to the middle of sixth. The early Islamic Arabic texts include only those that are datable to the first Islamic century (middle of the seventh until the middle of the eighth century C.E.). These are divided into epigraphic texts (including examples of monumental script written on hard material and fabrics) and papyri. Texts whose dating is based only on paleographic considerations, such as early Qur'an fragments, have been excluded. . . . This work is a fine contribution to Semitic paleography and will become an important tool of reference. --Geoffrey Khan, University of Cambridge, in Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Vol. 57, April 1999

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