Arabian Epigraphic Notes

An Open Access Online Journal on Arabian Epigraphy.

Traces of the hamza in the Early Arabic Script: The Inscriptions of Zuhayr, Qays the Scribe, and ‘Yazīd the King’


The present article re-edits three early Islamic inscriptions that exhibit an orthographic feature believed to represent the glottal stop (hamz). Overall, this orthographic device (referred to as ‘proto-hamza’) is employed four times in the three inscriptions, bringing the number of its known attestations to a grand total of nine. The article concludes by making some broad observations on the multifarious nature of the early Arabic writing tradition(s).


Arabic (script) inscriptions Palaeography Islamic Arabic inscription Hamza Arabic orthography