Rethinking history: Returning to archives and documents: the Arabic documents from early Islamic Khurasan


Professor Geoffrey Khan


June 15, 2023


In this talk, Professor Geoffrey Khan describes the Arabic documents from early Islamic Khurasan, which he published in 2007 and will discuss their importance for the understanding of the development of Arabic documentary culture. The corpus is datable to the 2nd century AH/8th century AD. These documents exhibit innovations in formulae that appear in the Arabic papyri from Egypt several years later. This reflects the fact that the eastern sector of the Abbasid empire was the hub of innovation in documentary practice and administration.


Geoffrey Khan is Regius Professor of Hebrew at the University of Cambridge. His research interests include philological and linguistic studies of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic. In the field of Arabic his main published research has been on medieval Arabic documents. He has edited various corpora of documents, including Arabic papyri from early Islamic Egypt, documents from early Islamic Khurasan, and documents from Fatimid and Ayyubid Egypt that have been preserved in the Cairo Genizah. He is currently working on documents from the Fatimid period that were discovered in Qaṣr Ibrīm (Nubia) by the Egypt Exploration Society. He also works on aspects of the history of the Arabic language, in particular the development of Judaeo-Arabic at various historical periods, including the modern spoken varieties, on which he has carried out fieldwork.