Dating sanaa manuscripts write a dating advert

The text is laid out in the format that was to become standard for complete Quran manuscripts, with chapter divisions indicated by a decorated line, and verse endings by intertextual clustered dots.

Although the Quran text witnessed in the two Birmingham leaves largely conforms to the standard text, their orthography differs, especially in respect of the writing (or omission) of the letter alif.

But first it is time to learn how our manuscript – let’s call it ‘Glaser 51’ – was copied by a Yemeni scribe...Ḥusayn b.ʿAwāḍ b.

ʿAlī, a Yemeni scholar, sits with one leg folded under him and a sheet of paper on his knee.

Next to him sit other scholars, all of them gathered in one of Southern Arabia’s bigger cities, Sanaa, in 1214.

Ḥusayn is prepared to listen to an audition, that is, the reading aloud of a text.

This exhibition tells the history of these manuscripts, from the scribes who created them to the modern-day scholars who study them.

Professor Berk recalls that these manuscripts had been intensively researched in association with an exhibition on the history of the Quran, The Quran in its 1,400th Year, held in Istanbul in 2010, and the findings published by François Déroche as Qur’ans of the Umayyads in 2013.

In that study, the Paris Quran, Bn F Arabe 328(c), is compared with Qurans in Istanbul, and concluded as having been written "around the end of the seventh century and the beginning of the eighth century." Joseph E. Lumbard of Brandeis University has written in the Huffington Post in support of the dates proposed by the Birmingham scholars.

The Muslim community was not wealthy enough to stockpile animal skins for decades, and to produce a complete Mushaf, or copy, of the Holy Qur’an required a great many of them.

The carbon dating evidence, then, indicates that Birmingham's Cadbury Research Library is home to some precious survivors that – in view of the Suras included – would once have been at the centre of a Mushaf from that period.

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Learn more about the importance of Yemeni manuscripts and their variety, discover where they are preserved today, and trace the history of one representative manuscript, written in 1214, as it travels from Sanaa to Berlin and, via digitization, to virtually everywhere.

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