New Persian documents

Inventory of New Persian manuscripts from Afghanistan

 

These sets of Persian documents from the pre-Mongol era are the earliest Persian documents known to have survived. Before their discovery, we knew of less than a handful of documents from prior to the Mongol period (i.e. prior to 1258 CE). They are comprised of three sets, all coming from Afghanistan:

1. Khalili Persian documents consist of 14 folios comprising 16 pieces of unique documents. Out of 11 acknowledgement deeds in the collection, there are four estate sale deeds, three loan-related documents, three marriage-related and one court litigation. Their dates range from 593/1197 to 617/1220. The collection’s significance lies in the fact that it has the longest and most detailed Persian legal documents that have been known. They provide a glimpse of the application of Islamic law in the Islamicate East.    

2. NLI documents (generally known as Afghan Geniza): The largest collection of documents from Islamicate East written in several languages. The Persian block also is the biggest collection of Persian documents (280 fragments), including the earliest piece of New Persian writing in Arabic script, dated 395 AH/ 1005 CE. The latest dated fragment is from 618 AH/ 1221 CE. The National Library of Israel purchased 220 sheets of New Persian and Judeo-Persian writing from Afghanistan in 2013-17. All are available to view on the NLI website, with basic catalogue entries produced by Ofir Haim. Here you will find the summary of our readings and transcriptions of the first set of 100 sheets. Some sheets are stand-alone documents, others belong to a set (e.g. a poem that extends across several sheets); others are written on recycled paper meaning that one sheet consists of two documents, one on each side. Some texts and documents are complete, others fragmentary; all are written on paper. Most are indeed documentary (letters, legal notes, commercial delivery notes, etc); a few are literary in nature (astrological notice, glossary/dictionary fragment, poem). By far the largest group is commercial/ financial in nature, which together with  commercial delivery records make up nearly two-thirds of the sheets (see pie chart below). The documents range in date from between 1011 CE and 1221 CE, with big gaps in between (see bar chart below).

A large subset of documents (ca. 42) refers to the same family. More details are being worked out by the team on this sub-set, and our findings will be featured in a forthcoming article and blog posts on this site, so watch the space.

For some more details on the set, see our StoryMap.

Key to the table:
R = recto side of the sheet/folio
V = verso side of the sheet / folio
 

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chart

 

 

chart

 

3. The Ghurid Persian documents collected by a local man from Firuzkuh, in Ghur province in Afghanistan in the early 2000s and published in Kabul by Mirza Khwaja Muhammad and Nabi Saqi in 2009, contains 83 fragments dating from the late 6th/12th to early 7th/13th centuries. These were published by Mirza Khwaja Muhammad and Nabi Saqi in 2009.





Catalogue no. Type Content summary: Original date Date: C.E. Writing surface
37 Legal Khadīja bt. Khwāja ʿAlī b. Ḥusayn  (seller), Khwāja ʿAlī b. Ḥasan b. Abī Bakr (Buyer), Landsale 20 Rabīʿ II 617 24 June 1220 paper
38 Legal Abī Bakr al-Ḥusayn (seller), Khwāja Muḥammad Ibrāhīm ʿAlī (buyer), Land sale  26 Ramḍān 610 12 February 1214 paper
39 Legal Khwāja Muḥammad Abī Bakr (debtor), Khwāja Masʿūd b. Muḥammad (lender), loan, 40 dīnārs, four months (deadline) 10 Ramadan 605 18 March 1209 paper
41 Legal Jamāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Faqīh (Husband), Khātūn? (wife), Pre-nuptial commitment by the husband to non-violence  Jumādā I? 604 December? 1207 paper
48 Legal Abū Bakr b. ʿUmar from Fīrūzān region and his bride, Sitt Ibn Muḥammad, Marriage and dowry  10 Rabīʿ I 598  7 January 1202 paper
49 Legal Ḥusayn b. Muḥammad Abū al-Qāsim, Abū al-Qāsim b. al-Ḥusayn, Abū al-Ḥasan, ʿAlī and Abī Bakr and their mother Fāṭima bnt. Ibrāhīm b. Maḥmūd  (Sellers), Khwāja Muḥammad Khwāja Ibrāhīm ʿAlī , house sale 1 Rabīʿ II 596 19 March 1200  paper
50-1 Legal Fāṭima bnt. ʿAlī b. Masʿūd ,  Muḥmmad b. Ibrāhīm (Solicitor), Two pieces of land 2 Rabīʿ II 593  22 Feb 1197 paper
50-2 Legal Kadīja bnt. Khwāja ʿAlī b. Ḥusayn (b.) Ḥasan (wife), Muḥammad b. Ibrāhīm (husband), Marriage, Dowry 1500 dīnārs of sīm  2 Rabīʿ II 594 11 Feb1198 paper
51 Legal Fāṭima bint Muḥammad ? b. al-Ḥasan (her lawer Muhammad b. Ismāʿīl) (plaintiff), Khwāja Muḥammad b. Ibrāhīm b. ʿAlī (defendant),  share in a mill, litigation 15 Dhū Ḥijja 608 19 May 1212 paper
52 Unknown Taʿwīdh (amulet) paper
53 Unknown Taʿwīdh (amulet) paper
54 Unknown Taʿwīdh (amulet) paper
151 List List paper
152 Legal Debt 15 Ramaḍān 600 23 May 1204 paper




Catalogue no. Type Content Date (original) CE date
Ms.Heb.8333.7=34 Poetry Panegyric poem; Vs: commercial notes in JP early 5th C ? early 11th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.8=34 Letter Private letter early 5th C ? early 11th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.9=4 Commercial Panegyric poem; Vs: commercial notes in JP early 5th C ? early 11th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.10=4   Panegyric poem; Vs: commercial notes in JP early 5th C ? early 11th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.14=4   Panegyric poem; Vs: commercial notes in JP early 5th C ? early 11th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.15=4 Iqrār R: acknowledgement lease of  parcels of land; V: JP note Rajab  430 (v: 1350 Seleucid Era) 1039
Ms.Heb.8333.16=4 Iqrār Copy of acknowledgement by Bāmiyān attorney; JP note on verso early 5th C ? early 11th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.22=4 Commercial Bottom part of letter on commercial matters early 5th C ? early 11th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.26=4 Commercial Letter by Manṣūr b. Muḥammad on wine share early 5th C ? early 11th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.27=4 Decree Small fragment of a decree 6th C ? ca. 12th C
Ms.Heb.8333.28=4 Financial Private letter on money ca. early 5th C Ca. 11th C
Ms.Heb.8333.36=4 Dīwānī State document on grain allocated to commander; verso: related 614, Dhū al-Qaʿda 1218, Jan
Ms.Heb.8333.37=4 Dīwānī R: Decree of summons of 10 men; v: Receipt and promissory note for grain v: 5[?]16 or 616, Rajab v: 1122 or 1219, Sep-Oct




Catalogue no. Type Content Date (original) CE date
Ms.Heb.8333.38=4 Letter Letter of confirmation 610, 24 Rabīʿ I 1213, 20 Aug
Ms.Heb.8333.39=4 Decree Decree regarding price of a ewe 614, Rabīʿ I 1217, July
Ms.Heb.8333.40=4 Delivery record Delivery of 400 mann of grain, 220 of which are of wheat 616 Ramaḍān 1219, Nov-Dec
Ms.Heb.8333.41=4 Financial Recto: Note; verso: note regarding a debt of half a dinar 618, 15 Muḥarram 1221, 18 Mar
Ms.Heb.8333.43=4 Commercial Cheque, issued by al-Dīwān al-Malikī addressed to elders of Sabzbahār 585 (?), 1 Ṣafar 1189 (?), 28 Mar
Ms.Heb.8333.44=4 Dīwānī State document (dīwānī)  summoning recipients Most probably 614 Most probably 1218
Ms.Heb.8333.45=4 Report Report (?) concerning slave named Zīrak, who escaped and was caught 614, Rajab 30 1217, 9 Nov
Ms.Heb.8333.46=4 List Details about taxation of certain villages 6th C ? 12th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.47=4 Commercial Letter from son to father, asking latter to prepare a bill and a pledge 6th/early 7th C ? 12th/ early 13th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.48=4 Commercial Letter of delivery of 2 donkey-loads of grain to a mill 6th C ? 12th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.61=4 Commercial Commercial letter by certain Zangī Zardūz 7th C ? 12th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.63=4 Decree, Iqrār r: decree on safe passage; v: acknowledgement of debt, 150 mann wheat [5]75, 10 Shawwāl (v: 577, 1 Muḥarram) 1180, 7 Mar; (v: 1181, 24 May)




Catalogue no. Type Content Date (original) CE date
Ms.Heb.8333.64=4 Iqrār Acknowledgement of debt of 630 mann of grain 577, 27 Ṣafar 1181, 19 July
Ms.Heb.8333.68=4 Iqrār R: acknowledgement of debt of 200 mann wheat; V: payment of 100 mann wheat 609, Dhu al-Ḥijja; v ? 1213, May; v?
Ms.Heb.8333.69=4 Commercial Deed of land sale 563, Shaʿbān 1168, Jun
Ms.Heb.8333.69=4 Letter Private letter 6th C ? 12th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.71=4 Delivery record Declaration concerning delivery of 17 sheep 561, 9 Rabīʿ II 1166, 19 Feb
Ms.Heb.8333.72=4 Iqrār Acknowledgement on 50 dīnārs 6th / early 7th C ? 12th/ early 13th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.72=4 Decree Decree to return a fugitive slave called Zīrak Most probably 614. Most probably 1218
Ms.Heb.8333.73=4 Contract Marriage contract 615, 15 Dhū al-Ḥijjah 1219, 4 Mar
Ms.Heb.8333.73=4 Iqrār Acknowledgement on a debt of 200 mann of pure grain 617, Jumādā al-ʾAwwal 1220, Jul
Ms.Heb.8333.74=4 Iqrār Acknowledgement by As'ad b. Ḥaydar 558 Rabī' I 1163, 21 Feb
Ms.Heb.8333.76=4 Iqrār Acknowledgement of debt of 2 mann sugar 617, Dhu al-Qaʿda 1221, Jan




Catalogue no. Type Content Date (original) CE date
Ms.Heb.8333.78=4 Delivery record Delivery note: 672 mann of wheat 565, Muḥarram 1169, Oct
Ms.Heb.8333.79=4 Delivery record Muḥammad Maḥmūd delivers to govt'l warehouse 23 and 70 mann grain 565 1169
Ms.Heb.8333.80=4 Delivery record On delivery of 95 mann of wheat & 39 mann of barley 566, Jumādā I  1171, Jan-Feb
Ms.Heb.8333.81=4 Delivery record R: fragmentary; V: Delivery note: 250 mann of wheat 565, Rabīʿ I 1169, Dec
Ms.Heb.8333.82=4 Delivery record Delivery of 200 mann of wheat 564?, Dhū al-Ḥijja  1169, Sep
Ms.Heb.8333.83=4 Delivery record Delivery of 240 mann of wheat 565, Muḥarram 1169, Oct
Ms.Heb.8333.84=4 Delivery record Delivery of 150 mann wheat 565, Rabī' I  1169, Nov-Dec
Ms.Heb.8333.85=4 Delivery record Delivery of 53 mann of grain 566, Rabī' I  1170, Nov-Dec
Ms.Heb.8333.86=4 Note; delivery record Note on reversal of a promise of protection; Delivery note: grain and other items 562, Dhu al-Ḥijja; v: 564, Dhu al-Ḥijja 1167, Oct; 1169, Sep
Ms.Heb.8333.88=4 Note Note on missing delivery of grain to commander 6th C ? 12th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.89=4 Letter Letter that reports about a battle near Wāshān Valley 6th C ? 12th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.89=4 Commercial Letter sent to Bāmiyān on several issues, incl. on sheep and men from Ghandaq 6th C ? 12th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.90=4 Decree Decree issued by al-Dīwān al-ʿĀlī for Zayn al-Dīn 6th C ? 12th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.91=4 Delivery record Delivery of 130 mann of grain 6th C ? 12th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.92=4 Delivery record Delivery of 2 sheep 611, Muḥarram 1214, May-Jun




Catalogue no. Type Content Date (original) CE date
Ms.Heb.8333.93=4 Delivery record Delivery of 5 donkey-loads wheat for Shawāniq village 569, 12 Shaʿbān 1174, 25 Mar
Ms.Heb.8333.94=4 Commercial Request to warehouse manager to release 120 mann of barley to peasant 603, 25 Sha'bān  1207, 2 Apr
Ms.Heb.8333.95=4 Delivery record Delivery of 200 mushung (a kind of bean) 566, Jumada II 1171, Feb-Mar
Ms.Heb.8333.96=4 Delivery record Delivery of 8 donkey-loads of grain 615, Ṣafar 1218, May
Ms.Heb.8333.97=4 Commercial Note for recipient to take 50 mann seeds from 300 mann from commanders 614, Shaʿbān 1217, Nov-Dec
Ms.Heb.8333.98=4 Delivery record Delivery of 275 mann grain by 3 men from communities to zakhīra account 603, Muḥarram 1206, Aug-Sep
Ms.Heb.8333.99=4 Delivery record Delivery of 188 mann wheat out of grain [tax collected by] the gov'l warehouse  566, Jumādā I 1171, Jan-Feb
Ms.Heb.8333.101=4 Letter Letter in which a king of Muslims is mentioned 6th C ? 12th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.101=4 Delivery record Delivery of five-day salary in grain 603, 10 Jumada I 1206, 20 Dec
Ms.Heb.8333.102=4 Legal Istiftāʿ on testimony/ attestation making 6th C ? 12th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.105=4 Order letter Instruction to commander Muḥammad by ʿAlī [b.] Abū Bakr 610s? 1210s?
Ms.Heb.8333.107=4 Delivery record On delivery of 20 mann grain 564, Jumādā II 1169, Mar-Apr
Ms.Heb.8333.108=4 Delivery record Delivery of 24 mann of grain 564 or 574, 12 Jumada I 1169, 18 Feb or 1178, 2 Nov
Ms.Heb.8333.109=4 Commercial On certain obligation (beg missing), probably debt 613, 25 Jumādā II 1216, 15 Oct




Catalogue no. Type Content Date (original) CE date
Ms.Heb.8333.112=4 Order letter On 50 mann…ʿAlī instructs recipient to return iqrār document for a settled debt 614, Sha'bān 1217, 9 Nov
Ms.Heb.8333.113=4 List R: fragment of  astrological treatise; v: account measured in mann, prob. grain 6th C ? 12th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.114=4 Letter; list R: Request letter; V: fragment of a list of names and quantities of wheat & barley 6[??] early 13th C?
Ms.Heb.8333.116=4 Letter Private letter from Muḥammad b. ʿUmar to Rashīd al-Dīn ʿAlī  6th C ? 12th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.117=4 Commercial Note on account of the notables of a village 612, Rajab 1215, Nov
Ms.Heb.8333.119=4 Letter R: Letter to senior official responding to decree; v: List of names related to cmdr 6th / early 7th C ? 12th / early 13th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.120=4 Letter; list R: Letter; v: List of names and amounts of grain from a village  early 7th C ? early 13th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.123=4 Decree; delivery record Final part of decree; delivery of 14 donkey-loads and 80 mann of grain 612, 12 Jumada II 1215, 15 Oct
Ms.Heb.8333.125=4 Letter Request that recipient deliver hand-written note on retrieval of 10 mann barley etc 615, Rabī' II 1218, Jul




Catalogue no. Type Content Date (original) CE date
Ms.Heb.8333.127=4 ? ? [letter head: ʿAlī b. Abū Bakr] 616, Ramaḍān 1219, Nov-Dec
Ms.Heb.8333.139=4 Commercial Commercial log issued by warehouse owner 6th / early 7th C ? 12th / early 13th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.153=4 Legal Istiftāʿ with 3 questions ddressed to a qāḍī on divorce 6th C ? 12th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.153=4 Commercial Commercial list of names and money amounts. 6th / early 7th C ? 12th / early 13th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.158=4 Delivery record On delivery of 306 mann of grain by 11 representatives….zakhīra 603, Muḥarram  1206, Aug-Sep
Ms.Heb.8333.159=4 Delivery record On delivery of 2327 mann of grain from certain village 603, Muḥarram 1206, Aug-Sep
Ms.Heb.8333.162=4 Delivery record On delivery of 300 mann of wheat 565, Muḥarram  1169, Oct
Ms.Heb.8333.163=4 Delivery record On delivery of 250 mann of wheat 565, Ṣafar 1169, Nov
Ms.Heb.8333.164=4 Delivery record On delivery of 200 mann of wheat 565, Ṣafar 1169, Nov
Ms.Heb.8333.165=4 Delivery record On delivery of 289 mann of grain 579, Jumādā II 1183, Oct
Ms.Heb.8333.166=4 Delivery record On delivery of 300 mann of grain 579, Jumādā II 1183, Oct
Ms.Heb.8333.167=4 Delivery record On delivery of 500 mann of wheat from کدور (گدور؟ گذور؟ کرود؟ گرود؟) 564(?), Jumādā II 1169, Mar-Apr




Catalogue no. Type Content Date (original) CE date
Ms.Heb.8333.168=4 Delivery record On delivery of 11 mann of wheat from ىوىىان (no plausible reading could be suggested) 565, Muḥarram 1169, Oct
Ms.Heb.8333.169=4 Delivery record On delivery of 66(?) mann of wheat 565, Rabī' I  1169, Nov-Dec
Ms.Heb.8333.170=4 Delivery record On delivery of 200 mann of wheat 565, Ṣafar 1169, Oct-Nov
Ms.Heb.8333.171=4 Delivery record On delivery of 45 mann of wheat 564(?), 5 Dhū al-Ḥijja 1169, 5 Sep
Ms.Heb.8333.172=4 Delivery record On delivery of 103 mann of grain 566, Rabī' I  1170, Nov-Dec
Ms.Heb.8333.173=4 Delivery record On delivery of 413 mann of grain 579, Sha'bān 1183, Nov-Dec
Ms.Heb.8333.174=4 Delivery record On delivery of 500 mann of grain 581, Sha'bān 1185, Nov-Dec
Ms.Heb.8333.175=4 Delivery record On delivery of 8 mann of wheat 564(?)  1169
Ms.Heb.8333.176=4 Delivery record On delivery of 54 mann of grain from ڡىدڡىان 579, Jumādā II 1183, Oct
Ms.Heb.8333.177=4 Delivery record On delivery of 240 mann of grain 579, Jumādā II 1183, Oct
Ms.Heb.8333.186=4 Poetry Epic poem in masnawī form in mutaqārib metre 5th C ? 11th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.189=4 Dictionary Practice sheet, or teaching aid based on thematic Arabic-Persian dictionary 5th C ? 11th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.210=4 Commercial Business note 5th C ? 11th C ?
Ms.Heb.8333.216=4 Iqrār Acknowledgement of debt of seven ʿadlī Shiyānī 401, Shawwāl 1011, May-Jun