Earliest Quranic Codex Discovered 5 May 2015

early-copy-of-quran-650x410Until recently, the earliest codices of the Quran were considered to be in Topkapi Palace Museum in Turkey and Tashkent in Uzbekistan (dating from the 8th century CE). Discoveries by researchers in Germany however, indicate an earlier manuscript may have been found.

The researchers at the University of Tübingen have been examining a Kufic manuscript of the Quran which, when carbon-dated, indicated it was from the period 649-675 AD. This would date to only 20-40 years after the Prophet Muhammad’s death, making it potentially the earliest partial manuscript of the Quran.

The Qurani codices in Uzbekistan and Turkey are both considered to be from the era of Uthman ibn Affan, the third Caliph of Islam. Muslims believe the Quran was first written down during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr as-Siddique, immediately after the Prophet’s death, though no copies of the manuscript are preserved from this period. Other contenders for the earliest manuscript include the Sana’a manuscripts discovered in the 1970s in Yemen.

The researchers are part of the Coranica project, a collaboration between the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres Paris and the Berlin-Brandenburgischen Academy of the Sciences and Humanities, sponsored by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and France’s Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR). The project investigates the Quran in the context of its historical background using documents such as manuscripts and information derived from archaeological excavations.


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