Moshe Sharon

During the 2017-2019 period, the research continued to concentrate on the inscriptions belonging to Jerusalem, after dedicating volume J1 of the Corpus, published already by Brill, Leiden Holland, to all the inscriptions outside Jerusalem. Vols. 7-8, J2 and J3 contain the ongoing studies of the inscriptions of Jerusalem, which naturally follow in the footsteps of Max van Berchem, and republishing all the inscriptions published by him in Matériaux pour un Corpus Inscriptionum Arabicarum Jérusalem Ville and Jérusalem Ḥaramsummarizing his extensive research and continuously referring to his rich notes.

Meanwhile, however, since van Berchem’s time many new inscriptions came to light, some were found in places which he did not, or could not, reach and some were discovered in the excavations which have been taking place in and around the southern part of the old city of Jerusalem. In what follows I present in a way of an example one such find of great importance, an Arabic inscription unearthed outside the south eastern corner of the Haram area during the excavations carried there by Professor Benjamin Mazar of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem back in 1968. For half a century

However, except for the lines 2,3 and 5, I was able to read the rest of the text pretty accurately. The script, and the names point to a very early Islamic paleographic text. It could well be the earliest known (except for some graffiti); I am sure about most of it. In what follows is the text and translation as published in the IEJ in 2018.



Fig 1. Inscription Jerusalem 32 (Copyright picture and text Moshe Sharon 2019)


Basmalah. …the protection of Allah and the guarantee of His messenger … and witnessed it ʿAbd ar-Raḥmān b. ʿAwf az-Zuhrī and Abū ʿUbaydh b. al-Jarrāḥ and its writer – Muʿāwiyah … the year thirty-two (?)

The lines 2, 3, and 5, which I am unable to read conceal the full nature and message of the inscription. It is clear that it is not an epitaph, and the word shahidahu at the beginning of line 6 could well point in the direction of some legal document the original writing of which was witnessed by three of the most prominent members of the Prophet’s comrades: ʿAbd ar-Raḥmān b. ʿAwf az-Zuhrī, Abū ʿUbaydah and Muʿāwiyah.

In 1968, when the inscription was discovered, the late Professor Benjamin Mazar handed it to me. I told him a few days later that I thought that the inscription was probably one of the oldest inscriptions hitherto found, and that it had to do with the surrender of Jerusalem to the Muslims. Now, almost half a century later, I do not have better idea[1].

This is one example reflecting the expansion of Max van Berchem work, which will always remain the perfect example to be followed in study of Arabic epigraphy.


In the second half of 2016, volume 6 of the Corpus was published by Brill. Work proceeded on the volumes of Jerusalem. In the following year, the plan is to publish volume 7 (J2) of the Corpus, dedicated to the first collection of Jerusalem  arranged chronologically (without dividing the text according to sites).

The squeezes in the archive of Max van Berchem

I follow my work on registering, arranging, analyzing, and preparing a detailed register of the squeezes in the van Berchem collection.

Until now, I worked on over 290 squeezes. As the work proceeds, I supply the Fondation with a running register which enables the following of the squeezes a electronically  

Addendum to CIAP7 p.135

Unfortunately, in CIAP inscription no.31 pp 135-137 in the technical details the name of Mrs. Annette Landes-Nagar was not mentioned as the head of the archeological dig where this fragment was found. (License no. A5746-2009). This is to correct this very unfortunate mishap:

After the words “in the old city of Jerusalem” In the opening of the chapter, add the following words:” the Director of the dig who found the fragment was Mrs. Annette Landes-Nagar”. Under pl. 31 Jerusalem 297 (right) add “courtesy Mrs. Annette Landes-Nagar.”


[1] M. Sharon, “Witnessed by Three Disciples of the Prophet: The Jerusalem 32 Inscription from 32 AH/652 CE IEJ, 2018