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A photo showing some stelae found with Arabic inscriptions.

Archaeologists Discover that Earliest Known Arabic Writing Was Penned by a Christian

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The oldest known Arabic writing found in Saudi Arabia, from ca. 470 AD belong to a Christian context and predates the advent of Islam with 150 years.

In December 2015, researchers from a French-Saudi expedition studying rock inscriptions in southern Saudi Arabia published a 100-page-long report in France’s Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres that reported that the oldest Arabic text, carved on a large rectangular stone that was found in Saudi Arabia, is simply of a name, “Thawban (son of) Malik,” decorated with a Christian cross. The same cross systematically appears on the other similar stelae dating more or less to the same period.

The discovery is sensational since it shows that the origins of the Arabic alphabet used to write the Koran belongs to a Christian context. This pre-Islamic alphabet is also called Nabatean Arabic, because it evolved from the script used by the Nabateans, the once-powerful nation that built Petra and dominated the trade routes in the southern Levant and northern Arabia before being annexed by the Romans in the early 2nd century.

Example of Nabatean script to the god Qasiu. Basalt, 1st century AD. Found in Sia in the Hauran, Southern Syria.

Example of Nabatean script to the god Qasiu. Basalt, 1st century AD. Found in Sia in the Hauran, Southern Syria. ( Public Domain )

The ancient text is a legacy of a once flourishing Christian community in the area also linked to the rise of an ancient Jewish kingdom that ruled over much of what is today Yemen and Saudi Arabia

Christians in the Desert

The Muslim tradition preserved in the book of Koran portrays the pre-Islamic region as chaotic and filled with unrest that Mohammed manages to unify with the help of the powerful message of Islam

However, the Islamic text makes no mention of the numerous Christian and Jewish communities across the Saudi peninsula that flourished during the days of Mohammed.

Recent studies of works by ancient Christians and Muslim records have re-shaped our image of the societies that existed in the region and shed new light on the complex history of the region before the advent of Islam. One of the important kingdoms in Arabia at the time was the Jewish kingdom of Himyar.

A bronze statue of Dhamar Ali Yahbur II, a Himyarite King who probably reigned in late 3rd or early 4th century AD. Displayed in Sana'a National Museum.

A bronze statue of Dhamar Ali Yahbur II, a Himyarite King who probably reigned in late 3rd or early 4th century AD. Displayed in Sana'a National Museum. ( CC BY 2.0 )

The kingdom was founded in the 2nd century AD, and around 380 AD the elites of the kingdom of Himyar converted to some form of Judaism. By the 4th century,

Himyar had become an important player in the struggle for regional power. The Kingdom of Himyar’s headquarters was situated in what is today Yemen, from where its expansionist rulers led a series of campaigns conquering into its neighboring states, including the legendary biblical kingdom of Sheba.

Royal inscriptions found in the Saudi capital of Riyadhand and Bir Hima, north of Yemen, attest how the Himyarite kingdom during the 5th century expanded its influence into central Arabia, the Persian Gulf area, and into the region of Mecca and Medina, known as Hijaz.

Pre-Islamic rock art of Arabia at Bir Hima, carved into the eastern foothills of the Asir Mountains of Saudi Arabia.

Pre-Islamic rock art of Arabia at Bir Hima, carved into the eastern foothills of the Asir Mountains of Saudi Arabia. ( CC BY 2.0 )

According to ancient Christian sources, the Christians of the nearby city of Najran suffered a wave of persecution by the Himyarites in 470. The name of Thawban son of Malik appears on eight inscriptions, along with the names of other Christians. The French experts believe these inscriptions are a form of commemoration of Thawban and his fellow Christians that were martyred as they refused to convert to Judaism.

The researchers believe that the Christians choice of the early Arabic script to memorialize their comrades was an act of resistance that stood in sharp contrast to the inscriptions left by Himyarite rulers in their native Sabaean. To adopt a new writing system was a way of manifesting a separation from Himyar, and at the same time, a means to approach the rest of the Arabs to unify against their common enemy.

A portion of a war scene from the Himyarite era.

A portion of a war scene from the Himyarite era. ( CC BY SA 3.0 )

The growing resistance and outside pressure eventually brought down Himyar. In the years around 500, it fell to Christian invaders from the Ethiopian kingdom of Aksum. For the next century, Himyar was a Christian kingdom that continued to exert control over Arabia. During the latter half of the 6th century, one of its rulers, Abraha, marched through Bir Hima, conquering, Yathrib, the desert oasis that 70 years later would become known as Medina – The City of the Prophet.

Featured Image: A photo showing some stelae found with Arabic inscriptions. Source: Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA)

By Sam Bostrom

Comments

"Advent" is the correct term. There are no "Revelations" in the Religion of Murder, Islam. When one reads the Koran it becomes clear that this is not a religion, but an excuse to murder, rape, mass theft, and conquest. As a non-religious person, it is easy for me to find fault with all the major religions. But Islam is the only major "religion" i have studied that qualifies for mass suppression, if not eradication due to its explicitly evil nature.

Being an Arab and a Muslim do not make me automatically anti- Jew ! Jews are our cousins and many of them are no- Trump's. I have no grudges against Jew and I can never support hate speech against the , otherwise I would be another Trump.

"and are still under spiritual slavery today" lol jews were subservient to dogs for millennia

Sorry, I'm a broad minded person living in the twenty first century, not a dumb isolationist who lives in a world of his invention and believes his own myths ! I believe in human equality and absence of racial or religious superiority. If God , purportedly, gave a promise of excellence or superiority to a certain race , it means bigotry and injustice ! I think that the problem between Nazism and the Jews had its roots from that so called "covenant" and that the Jews are God's chosen people . While the Nazis believe that the Aryan race is the master race who got it all to rule, conquer and enslave the rest of the world. But the Bible say something different and most of the Nazi's propaganda target Aryans who believe in this Bible and are faced with such contradictions between the Nazi teachings and the Bible teachings. So the Nazi's solution for the mess is to eradicate the other people who claim their supremacy as God's chosen people, I.e the Jews , so one master race remains !
The sign of the covenant as mentioned in the Turah or OT is male circumcision, a tradition abolished in Christianity by Paul to lure Greeks known for their despise of such Jewish tradition . into Christianity ! That means that non- circumcized Christians (the majority of Christians) are outcasts and are not included in such covenant ! Even, killing a supreme being like Jesus Christ and a pious prophet like Johnn the Paptist were not enough for God's wrath against the people who committed such abominable crimes and braking that covenant which was definitely manifested by destruction of the temple by the Romans in 70 AD and the end of the Jewish rule in the holy land for nearly two millennia ! So, where was the holy word for two long milenia and a devastating Holocaust short of complete extermination ?

JEHOVAH GOD made a "blood" covenant with Abraham, which renewed with Issac and then Jacob, whose name was changed by GOD. That "blood" covenant is an "everlasting" covenant, meaning it can never be broken. You can read it in Genesis Chapter 15 and Chapter 17. Issac was promised the "blessing" not Ishmael. The person writing this Article does not know JEHOVAH GOD's Holy Word.

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