Friday, December 10, 2010

New papyri on the Arab Conquest in 7th century CE

A PAPYRI "DISCOVERY" at the Austrian National Library:
New Information about the Sasanian Dynasty, among the discovered historical letters dating from the Arab conquest of Egypt

PostDateIcon Friday, 10 December 2010 08:06 | PDF Print E-mail

LONDON, (CAIS) -- Among the Papyri Collection at the Austrian National Library (Die Österreichische Nationalbibliothek), a previously unknown archive has recently discovered a series of letters which could shed light on the history of the Arab conquest of the Middle-East in the 7th Century CE.


The Austrian National Library states that the Papyrus Letter Collection Archive is the source that could shed light on one of the most important events in the history of mankind, although it has not yet been scientifically confirmed.

So far over 250 letters written in Greek and Coptic on Papyrus have been identified. The letters were written in Egypt around 643/4 CE, immediately after the Arab conquest of Egypt which is documented in a unique way that tells the history of the transition of power to the Arabs.

A special feature of the letters is that how the Arabs were able to invade such a massive territory as Egypt with such a small army of 4,000 soldiers. According to the letters Amr, the commander of Arab forces was ordered to avoid killing the civilians in Egypt, contrary to the invasion of Iran two years earlier which was taken place in a most brutal fashion.

Among the discovered Papyri there are also a number of documents written in Sasanian-Pahlavi, date to the period that Egypt was under the Sasanian rule (619-629). These documents are about the imperial Sasanian forces stationed in Egypt and their life-style during their stay, which are yet to be studied.

In addition to the historical importance of the archive, the Pahlavi documents are likely to be linguistically important, since most of the surviving Sassanian Pahlavi literature is extant only in later manuscripts. See the "Middle Persian Literature i. Pahlavi Literature" article in the online Encyclopaedia Iranica.