chapter  1
6 Pages

Notes on Arabic Archeology

WithMax van Berchem

The study of the monuments in the lands where Arabic is spoken may generally be termed ‘Arab archaeology’. Arabic papyri, which are manuscripts too, are closer to archaeological documents, given their fragmentary nature and the particular nature of the information they yield. Leaving aside pre-Islamic Arabia, Arab archaeology embraces a wide range of studies, linked, in geographical and historical terms, by the civilisation of the Arab lands of the Islamic world. As for inscriptions, they offer a vast field of study. Among the many works on the Arabic epigraphy of Egypt and Syria, those of Mehren on the inscriptions of Cairo hold pride of place. The project of a ‘Manual of Arabic archaeology’–which may perhaps seem premature–is greatly facilitated by the fact that new light has been thrown on the question of the origins of Arabic art in Byzantium, Syria, Persia, and in Coptic Egypt.