Tombstone from Halhul
Islamic Museum, al-Aqsa Mosque / al-Haram al-Sharif
Hegira 55 / AD 674
White porous rock with an inscription in low relief.
Height 38 cm, length 34 cm, depth 6 cm
An inscribed tombstone of white porous stone with an inscription carved in shallow kufic script with diacritics. The inscription consists of eight lines, the first of which is now largely illegible, but which probably began with the Basmala (“In the name of God”). The word “min” is missing from the beginning of the eighth line. The depth of the stone is uneven and the corners are demarcated on three sides in a sharp, conspicuous manner known as zamla.
Note that the funerary-style script used is less skilfully executed than some other contemporary inscriptions of an official or commemorative nature. The inscription is distinguished by the fact that the craftsman who made it displayed great meticulousness in the arrangement of the line beginnings, setting each character one above the other on the vertical plane. The kufic lettering used is typical of that employed during the decades preceding and following the date of this inscription (produced AH 55 / AD 674).
The tombstone is dated based on the inscription commemorating the death of al-Malik bin al-Rumi al-Jarmi who was from the Bani Jaram, from Qahtan. The inscription is considered to be one of the oldest examples of an Islamic inscription in Palestine. Starting with the Basmala, it reads as follows:
“(In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful)
God, there is no God but God. Muhammad
Is the Prophet of God. This grave
Of al-Malik bin al-Rumi bin Abd
Allah al-Jarmi, who died on Friday
In the month of Rabi' al-Akhir
Of the year AH 55 [AD 674 ].”
A tombstone of white stone with an inscription carved in kufic script less skilfully executed than other contemporary commemorative inscriptions. The inscription begins with the Basmala and a prayer for the Prophet, and gives the name al-Jarmi (from the Bani Jarmi from Qahtan) and the date of death. It is believed to be one of the oldest Umayyad inscriptions in Palestine.
Al-Malik bin al-Rumi al-Jarmi (d. AH 55 / AD 674)
The date is carved on the tombstone.
The tombstone was discovered in the 1980s in a grave in Halhul, located several kilometres north of Hebron, and transferred soon afterwards to the Islamic Museum in Jerusalem.
Palestine was narrowed down as the place for the production of this tombstone, since such pieces are likely to be made on site, or in a workshop adjacent to it.
Al-Hanbali, Mujir al-Din (d. 927 / 1520), Al-Uns al-Jalil fi Tarikh al-Quds wa al-Khalil [The Significant Ambiance in the History of Jerusalem and Hebron], Amman, 1973.
Al-'Azza, Abd Allah, Naqsh Halhul 55 / 674: Aqdam Naqsh fi Filastin [The Inscription of Halhul 55 / 674: The Oldest Inscription in Palestine], Kanna, 1990.
Salameh, K., Al-Makhtutat al-Qur'aniya fi al-Muthalf al-Islami fi al-Haram al-Sharif [The Qur'anic Manuscripts in the Islamic Museum in al-Haram al-Sharif], Paris, 2003.
Khader Salameh "Tombstone from Halhul" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;pa;Mus01;48;en
Prepared by: Khader SalamehKhader Salameh
Khader Salameh has been the Director of the Islamic Museum and Al-Aqsa Library in Jerusalem for more than two decades. He was previously employed in the Hebrew University Library and worked as a librarian in Saudi Arabia and as a teacher in Libya. He is a Ph.D. Candidate in Ottoman History. He received a Certificate of Librarianship in 1986 from the Hebrew University. He obtained his BA degree from Beirut University in 1980. He catalogued the Manuscripts Collections of the Haram al-Sharif, which was published in six parts in several countries. His publications include many articles on different subjects and a recent publication in English and Arabic on the Qur'an manuscripts in the Islamic Museum.
Copyedited by: Majd Musa
Translation by: Amal Sachedina (from the Arabic).
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: PA 48
Islamic Dynasties / Period
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