Investigating Duke’s Arabic Papyri

To this day, the Arabic language, and by extension, Arabic sources are often not given the same attention as their Greek and Latin counterparts. As a student in Early Christianity, mostly interested in Late Antique religions, Maroun feels both inclined and passionate to work on Duke’s Arabic collection. Maroun intends to focus primarily on the Arabic papyri collection found at the Rubenstein library, but also on other manuscripts in the same language. He hopes to be able to closely study the Arabic papyri collection and ameliorate the information Duke has as much as he can. The Rubenstein’s papyri website states that, most, if not all, the Arabic documents came from Egypt, between 640-1250. And while some have a provenance, P.Duke.inv.270 to 275 provenances are still unknown. The only information available is that they were acquired in 1973. In addition to working on a better cataloguing of those documents, Maroun intends to also, possibly, provide a better description of their contents, and maybe even edit a few.

P.Duke.inv. 274, containing a number of Surahs from the Qur’an, some repeated more than once, was purchased by Anton Fackelmann in 1969 in Cairo, Egypt. In a letter to William H. Willis written in January 1969, Anton Fackelmann mentions four pieces of Arabic papyri while negotiating the sale of his larger collection which contains papyri in other languages as well (Greek, Coptic and Demotic). Willis then requests photographs of the papyri in September 1969 to give the members of the Duke Library Council a better understanding of Fackelmann’s collection before reaching a decision. These photographs arrive to Duke in December 1969, and the council then informs Fackelmann of its desire to acquire the collections he is offering on the 13th of January 1970.

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