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Mingana-Lewis Palimpsest : The large Qur’ānic leaves from the Mingana-Lewis Palimpsest

Mingana-Lewis Palimpsest

<p style='text-align: justify;'>These seven large leaves were the work of a single scribe, who prepared the writing surface by ruling horizontal lines and arranging the text in 24 to 30 lines per page (two/three of them have been cut off). The scribe marked the separation between two consecutive sūras in various ways (see the three surviving examples in fol. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(3);return false;'>88r</a>, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(33);return false;'>89v</a> and <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(39);return false;'>90v</a>). The leaves contain fragments of non-continuous sections of the Qur’ānic text and it is possible that when the scribe was writing these leaves, he was copying a larger section of the Qur’ānic text from an exemplar. The seven large Qur’ānic leaves were trimmed and then folded in two to adjust them to the dimensions of the small codex of Christian Arabic homilies, by cutting about 25% of the area from the original leaves. The parchment of these larger leaves was thick and strong, different from the thin and more fragile parchment of the small Qur’ānic leaves.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'><a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>Agnes Smith Lewis</a>, the owner and editor of the text, applied a larger quantity of hydrosulphide of ammonia to the larger strong leaves, a solution commonly used to enhance the under-writing of palimpsests at the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth century. The destructive effects of this chemical compound must be added to the destructive effects of the palimpsesting process, and result in a large part of the text being illegible. Agnes Smith Lewis was unable to read half of the seven large leaves, i.e. two entire leaves (ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(7);return false;'>87</a> and <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(1);return false;'>88</a>) and three pages (the verso of ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(28);return false;'>93</a> and <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(13);return false;'>94</a> and the recto of f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(19);return false;'>92</a>), despite having applied the solution.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Our comprehension of this object is extremely limited and uncertain, and at some points it is impossible to read any words or letters in the manuscript image.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'><b>Interpretation and hypothetical retracement is the work of Dr Alba Fedeli</b></p>

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