Some artifacts from recent excavations in Saudi Arabia on view in the Roads of Arabia exhibit at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. Above, an inscription in old Arabic from Qaryat al-Faw, 1st millennium BCE.
Funerary mask from a tomb outside Thaj, first century CE.
Two anthropomorphic stelae from the Qaryat al-Kaafa Site, 4000 to 3000 BCE.
This is why I love studying art, archeology, history and the like - there's just so much I don't know, even after years of exposure to books and the internet, and I get such joy from learning such small little things. There are just gaps in my knowledge and thinking, areas that I don't have much occasion to think about, and then I stumble across something that leads me to discover the gap and then immediately fill it in, and I love that.
Today's filled in gap is Old Arabic - it makes perfect sense that the arabic language and alphabet changed over time just like all languages do, but since I don't speak or read Arabic, and since all of my exposure to the language has been in the context of much more modern historical spaces, it never occured to me to wonder what came before Arabic as it existed in the times of Muhammad and the Quran.
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