Wednesday, February 17, 2010

More Archaeology - An Arabic 10th Century Inscription

From the press release:

A Rare 1,200 Year Old Arabic Inscription of the Abbasid Caliph Al-Muqtadir was Discovered in Excavations in Jerusalem

An impressive fragment of a marble plaque (20 x 20 cm) bearing parts of an Arabic inscription from the beginning of the tenth century CE was the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem.

The house is located north of the Crusader period Church of St Mary of the Germans...Three engraved lines of square Arabic script that is characteristic of the first centuries of the Islamic period are all that have survived of the inscription.

Professor Moshe Sharon of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem deciphered the writing based on two similar inscriptions that were previously discovered in the country. According to Professor Sharon, “The inscription that was found now, which dates to the year 910 CE, and other such inscriptions, commemorates the granting of an estate by the Abbasid caliph to one of his loyal followers in Jerusalem.

We know from this type of official inscription that the caliph used to give land to his followers who were, for the most part, retired army veterans, and even exempted them from paying taxes for the receipt of the property”.

Annette Nagar, the excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, who discovered the inscription, says, “The reign of the Abbasid caliph Al-Muqtadir (also known as “Emir of the Faithful”; 908-932 CE) was characterized by repeated wars for control over Israel with the Fatimids, who ruled Egypt.

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