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Literacy In Pre-Islamic Arabia: An Analysis Of The Epigraphic Evidence

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on the question of a genuinely Arabian culture of writing, that is, one developed within the Arabian Peninsula itself and existing prior to, or contemporary with, those writing traditions imported from outside. Bearing in mind the explicit self-classification of the Qurʾā as "Arabic," the author therefore asks to what extent the inhabitants of pre-Islamic Arabia were able to express and receive their mother tongues by means of script. For this purpose, the available material sources documenting the use of writing will be surveyed and classified with respect to their distribution and their importance within public and private social life. Subsequently, the question of literacy in the particular societies will be discussed. This procedure fits nicely under three questions: 1. Which materials were written upon? 2. What was written? 3. Who did the writing?.

Keywords: Arabian culture; pre-Islamic Arabia; Qurʾan



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