Timeline of Earliest Persian writing (10th-11th century CE)
Early New Persian is the earliest form of Persian written in Arabic script. The history of New Persian is best known from the important works of the 1960s to early ‘80s collated by Gilbert Lazard,in Formation de la langue persane (Paris, 1995). The other important study (in Persian) is by Ali Ashraf Sadeghi in Takwīn-i Zabān-i Fārsī (Tehran, 1357/1978). However, more recent discoveries of manuscripts and handwritten documents provide important new evidence that necessitates tracing the evolution of New Persian writing anew. As a first step towards this, the Invisible East Team has produced a timeline of the 48 earliest New Persian pieces of original writing.
It is striking that Abu ’l-Qāsim Firdawsī’s Shāhnāma epic which is said to have been written in Tūs (eastern Iran, modern-day Mashhad) in 400/1010 does not feature amongst the oldest 48 texts. This is because its earliest codex only dates to 200 years after its completion, in 614/1217. (See: Jalal Khaleghi-Motlagh, “Barrasī wa arzyābī-yi dastniwīs-i Shāhnāma-yi Florans,” Nāmeh-ye Bahārestān 12, no. 18-19 [2011-12]: 207-50). The problem of survival only in late copies pertains to all early Persian literary and poetical writing, such as the famous works by Rūdakī (d. 329/940-1), Balʿamī (d. 363/964 or 386/996-7), Farrukhī (d. 429/1037-8), ʿUnsurī (d. 431/1039-40 or 441/1049-50), and Bayhaqī (d. 458/1066), all of which survive in manuscripts produced only centuries after their initial compositions, in copies produced from the 13th century CE onwards.
[Note that dates below are given first in accordance with the Islamic hijrī calendars, then (after the backslash) in the Gregorian (western) calendar].