"Oldest" Koran Not so Old After All, Say Text Analysts

By Gary Cutlack on at

People poking about old scripts have poured doubt on the modern dark art of carbon dating, suggesting that the apparent "oldest" example of fragments of the Koran might not be quite so old after all.

It's a big argument for historians. Last year, claims were made that the apparent oldest pages from a Koran in existence dated to near the Prophet Muhammad's lifetime, making it quite the find. That claim, though, was based on carbon dating evidence; a modern science that's still not been entirely perfected.

The University of Birmingham made the original claim, suggesting that newly identified pages of a manuscript dated from between AD568 and 645, overlapping much of the lifetime of the Prophet. However, new analysis of the text suggests the writing itself is too "evolved and elaborate" to be from such an early period, casting doubts on the ages of the pages.

Islamic studies expert Dr Mustafa Shah claims it's "a mature form" of Arabic writing that didn't come into practise until several decades later, meaning it's... newer. The library overdue fines should therefore be revised downwards. [BBC]

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