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A New Reading of the Namārah Inscription

James A. Bellamy
Journal of the American Oriental Society
Vol. 105, No. 1 (Jan. - Mar., 1985), pp. 31-51
DOI: 10.2307/601538
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/601538
Page Count: 21
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A New Reading of the Namārah Inscription
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Abstract

The Namārah inscription (Musée du Louvre, AO 4083) was discovered by R. Dussaud and F. Macler in the spring of 1901. Written in the Nabataean alphabet but in the Arabic language, it is the oldest inscription in classical Arabic that has so far been discovered. Dated A. D. 328, it is the funerary monument of Imruʾu l-Qays b. ʿAmr, who appears briefly in the works of later Muslim historians as the second Lakhmid king of al-Ḥīrah. From the time of its first publication (1902), because of the numerous cruces it contains, the epitaph has been the subject of much discussion and debate among epigraphers and historians, all of whom have relied on Dussaud's reading. The present article presents a new reading and interpretation of the inscription, based on a fresh examination of the stone by the author, who also used the three photographs which are reproduced here for the benefit of the reader. The result is a version in which the philological problems have been solved, thus giving historians a sound text from which to work.

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