The Writing Culture of Ancient Dadān

A Description and Quantitative Analysis of Linguistic Variation


This work focuses the social context of writing in ancient Western Arabia in the oasis of ancient Dadan, modern-day al-ʿUlā in the northwest of the Arabian Peninsula between the sixth to first centuries BC. It offers a description and analysis of the language of the inscriptions and the variation attested within them. It is the first work to perform a systematic study of the linguistic variation of the Dadanitic inscriptions. It combines a thorough description of the language of the inscriptions with a statistical analysis of the distribution of variation across different textual genres and manners of inscribing. By considering correlations between language-internal and extralinguistic features this analysis aims to take a more holistic approach to the epigraphic object. Through this approach an image of a rich writing culture emerges, in which we can see innovation as well as the deliberate use of archaic linguistic features in more formal text types.
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Fokelien Kootstra obtained her Ph.D. from Leiden University, the Netherlands, in 2019 and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Ghent University, Belgium. She has published on the epigraphic traditions of pre-Islamic North Arabia (Taymāʾ and al-ʿUlā). Her most recent work focuses on the language and writing culture of the early Arabic papyri.
List of Figures, Maps and Tables
Sigla and Abbreviations

 1 Outline of the Present Work
 2 The Corpus
 3 A Holistic Approach to the Epigraphic Object
 4 Scribal School and Variation

1 The Oasis of Dadan in Space and Time
 1 The Dadanite and Liḥyanite Kingdoms
 2 Philological Arguments
 3 Minaean Presence at Dadan
 4 Paleography
 5 Dadan in Other Corpora
 6 Archaeological Evidence
 7 Summary of the Dating Evidence

2 Script and Manners of Inscribing
 1 Glyphs and Their Variant Forms
 2 Script Styles
 3 Dadanitic Alphabetic Text
 4 Summary: Varying Styles, Varying Forms

3 Genres and Compositional Formulae
 1 Superscriptio
 2 Narratio
 3 Invocatio
 4 Graffiti
 5 Summary

4 Orthography and Phonology
 1 Word Dividers
 2 Matres lectionis
 3 Triphthongs
 4 Final Short Vowels
 5 Diphthongs
 6 Sound Changes

5 Verbal Morphology
 1 Suffix Conjugation
 2 Prefix Conjugation
 3 Derived Stems
 4 Participles

6 Nominal and Pronominal Morphology
 1 Gender
 2 Number
 3 Noun Formation
 4 Demonstrative Pronoun
 5 Relative Pronoun
 6 hmḏ
 7 mh
 8 mn
 9 Personal Pronouns
 10 Prepositions
 11 Numerals
 12 Adverbs
 13 Particles
 14 Conjunctions

7 A Quantitative Approach to Variation
 1 Methodology: Statistics
 2 The Data and Methodology

8 Analysis
 1 Text Internal Variants
 2 Register Indicators
 3 Important Non-significant Co-occurrences
 4 Discussion
 5 Summary

 1 Descriptive and Grammar Chapters
 2 Chapters Analyzing Variation
 3 Variation and Literacy
 4 Future Directions
 5 Summary

Index of Inscriptions
Historians, archaeologists, and epigraphists with an interest in Ancient Arabia. The grammatical description and glossary will be helpful to those interested in Arabian epigraphy as well as Semiticists more broadly. The work offers a broad overview that will be useful to both specialists and students looking to get acquainted with the writing cultures of Ancient Arabia.
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