Carbon Dating of Seven Parchment Qurʾān Manuscripts and One Syriac Bible of the National Museum of Iran

Document Type : Report


1 Associate Researcher, Paderborn Institute of Islamic Theology, Paderborn University

2 Director of Research Centre Corpus Coranicum. Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities


This paper presents the carbon dating results of seven Qurʾān manuscripts and one Syriac Bible (Peshitta) of the National Museum of Iran (NMI) in the context of palaeography of early Qurʾān manuscripts. The carbon age measurements, for the first time obtained from a collection in the Eastern lands of Islam, include results from one manuscript in script style kūfī B, one in kūfī C, and five in kūfī D. Measurements from carbon analysis of the Qurʾāns of the National Museum confirm the relative chronology of script styles in Qurʾānic palaeography. Obtained measurements from the Qurʾāns of NMI, however, give evidence for an early dating of kūfī D script styles. For the intricate question of date, carbon dating provides essential anchor points in chronology, beneficial for a historical understanding of Qurʾāns specifically and manuscripts in general, as the carbon date results of the Syriac Bible of NMI show. Scientific dating is recommended for producing comprehensive catalogues of manuscript collections as it reveals a new perception of Qurʾānic palaeography where chronology remains unexplored.


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