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Ahmad Al-Jallad
No Persians, no Romans (thread on the Namārah inscription). The Namārah inscription (S. Syria) is probably the best known pre-Islamic Arabic inscription. The epitaph of Marʾalqays son of ʿAmro, king of all the Arabs (mlk ʾl-ʿrb kl-h, 328 CE). image source:
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Ahmad Al-Jallad Sep 6
Replying to @Safaitic
The text boasts a massive bibliography, with many, many interpretations of its difficult language. The defective Nabataean script, in which it was carved, fails to distinguish between many Arabic phonemes. And flaws on the rough stone can easily confuse the inexperienced eye.
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Ahmad Al-Jallad Sep 6
Replying to @Safaitic
The inscription is the funerary monument (nafs) of Marʾalqays son of ʿAmr, king of all the Arabs; this much everyone agrees on. He is called dw ʾsr ʾl-tg, 'the one who bound on the crown' - in other words, he is a self-made king, not some vassal crowned by neighboring powers.
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Ahmad Al-Jallad Sep 6
Replying to @Safaitic
It goes on to name the tribes and peoples he rules over, the two Syrias (ʾl-ʾsryn) and Nizār. Marʾalqays then made war against Maḏḥiǧ, ultimately striking his spear in the gates of Nagrān. All groups known from Islamic-period sources.
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Ahmad Al-Jallad Sep 6
Replying to @Safaitic
Scholars are divided if he then conquers (mallaka) Maʿadd, another tribe, or if Šammar, who is mentioned as master of the realm of Nagran, is also king of Maʿadd. The most controversial section comes next: w nḥl bny-h ʾl-šʿwb w wklw l-frs w l-rwm. Most take this to mean...
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Ahmad Al-Jallad Sep 6
Replying to @Safaitic
that Marʾalqays gave (nḥl) the peoples to his sons and appointed them as agents for Persian (frs) and for the Romans (rwm). M. Kropp correctly noted the inconsistency here. Marʾalqays was a self-made king, HE conquers Arabia, HE gives territories to his sons...
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Ahmad Al-Jallad Sep 6
Replying to @Safaitic
Where does the matter of vassalage come in? And double vassalage at that?! This interpretation clashes with the following sentence: wa-lam yabluġ malk mablaġa-h 'and no king has ever achieved his rank'. Whether or not he was truly a vassal is irrelevant...
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Ahmad Al-Jallad Sep 6
Replying to @Safaitic
This boastful epitaph sees him as an independent king. And so I suggest the following interpretation: w nḥl bny-h ʾl-šʿwb w wklw l-frs w l-rm 'and HE gave the peoples to his sons and they were given authority (by HIM), not the Persians (lā fors) and not the Romans (lā rūm)'.
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Ahmad Al-Jallad Sep 6
Replying to @Safaitic
That is the l- before both of these words is a negator. If you want to find out how, read the article! now up for discussion on .
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Ahmad Al-Jallad Sep 6
Replying to @Safaitic
The Namārah inscription contains linguistic oddities as well. The particle ʿkdy, attested twice: ʿkdy wgʾ b-zg-h rtg ngrn 'thereafter he struck with his spear the gates of Nagrān' and ʿkdy hlk 'and there after died'.
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Ahmad Al-Jallad Sep 6
Replying to @Safaitic
The meaning 'thereafter' is clear from its context but no cognate of this particle survives in later Arabic. In 2015, I suggested a Safaitic cognate of ʿkdy, but it occurred in a non-formulaic context so we couldn't be 100% sure. I am happy to report we now have clear proof...
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Ahmad Al-Jallad Sep 6
Replying to @Safaitic
of the same word, with the same meaning, in Safaitic. Last field season () we discovered a new Safaitic inscription attesting this word in a completely unambiguous context. The text states:
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Ahmad Al-Jallad Sep 6
Replying to @Safaitic
'w-wgm ʿl-ghm w-ḏkr-h f bky w-ʿkd wny' he grieved for Ghm and remembered him and then wept and thereafter grew weak (from grief)’. For the text and its interpretation, see the full paper: .
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Ahmad Al-Jallad Sep 6
Replying to @Safaitic
We all use simplifying assumptions in our interpretation of ambiguous material. Simplifications based on later stereotypes (pre-Islamic Arab vassalage) and later forms of Arabic (Classical Arabic) produced a Namārah inscription that was at odds with itself...
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Ahmad Al-Jallad Sep 6
Replying to @Safaitic
And the assumption that this text was "Classical Arabic" cut it off from its linguistic environment - northern Old Arabic: Safaitic and Nabataean. I hope to publish the final paper once the discussion concludes. Have a great Friday.
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Alan ファイサル 極 Sep 6
Replying to @Safaitic
Beautiful inscription, and it is interesting how all the attested tribes in Safaitic graffiti vanished from scene by 3rd CE and replaced with tribes which identified in ansab al-'arab.
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Ahmad Al-Jallad Sep 6
Replying to @Alan_01987
Thank you for this. Let’s unpack this. 1) there is no evidence of vanishing because we can’t be sure when the inscriptions stop 2) the inscription isn’t talking about local tribes it is talking about the conquest of Arabia so even this text doesn’t suggest they ...
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Ahmad Al-Jallad Sep 6
Replying to @Alan_01987
Disappeared 3) Safaitic social groups remain plausible attested in Greek even up to the 6th c. CE - It is a matter of scale: local tribe vs confederacy. Claims of abrupt cultural replacement are based on 0 evidence, only the “guess” that Safaitic ended in the 4th c. CE
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Ahmad Al-Jallad Sep 6
Replying to @Alan_01987
And the end of a writing tradition is the not disappearance of a tribe. The last thing to say is that it is unclear who the العرب included in the text — possibly locals vs named foreign groups in Arabia. Nothing can be taken for granted.
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سعود Sep 6
Replying to @Safaitic
By the way is this the earilest mention of Arabs as a distinct related/politically affiliated groups of tribes? Since this king allegedly ruled them from N.Yemen to Syria? "king of (the) Arabs" makes it as if they were well defined as a group at the time.
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Ahmad Al-Jallad Sep 6
Replying to @ArabiaFelixz
That depends if ‘Arab includes all of the following groups or is a separate category. A complicated question and I think the reading of this text cautions us against assuming what was the case in the 9th c. CE held for the 4th.
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