The archeology of the Ṣan‘ā’ palimpsest: New reflections from the perspective of codicology

This lecture is part of the Michaelmas Term Research Seminar Series.

The lecture will be held in the Lecture Room at The Khalili Research Centre, 3 St John Street, Oxford, OX1 2LG.


The Ṣan‘ā’ palimpsest (Codex Ṣan‘ā’ 1) is considered as one of the most important document for the history of the Qur’ān transmission. The erased text (lower text) reveals variants from the canonical edition on both the wording and the arrangement of the sūras. This makes the document unique in comparison to the hundreds of early Qur’ān manuscripts in which the text is close to the Vulgate.

However, the nature and function of this text is unclear. Are they discontinuous notes written on separate sheets, or a whole recension of the Qur’ān inside a codex/ muṣḥaf? This seminar will be dedicated to the material examination of the Ṣan‘ā’ palimpsest, in order to shed light on these issues.