PERF 558 is the oldest surviving Arabic papyrus, found in Heracleopolis in Egypt, and is also the oldest dated Arabic text using the Islamic era. It is a bilingual Arabic-Greek fragment, consisting of a tax receipt, or as it puts it "Document concerning the delivery of sheep to the Magarites and other people who arrived, as a down-payment of the taxes of the first indiction."
Features of interest include:
- The first well-attested use of the disambiguating dots that would become an essential feature of the Arabic alphabet;
- It begins with the Greek formula "ev onomati tou teou" (In the Name of God) after a Sign of the Cross
- It records the date both in the Islamic calendar (an unspecified day in the month Jumada I, year 22) and in the Coptic calendar (30 Parmouti, 1st indiction), corresponding with 25 April 643 in the Julian calendar.
- In Greek, it calls the Arabs "Magaritae", a term, believed to be related to the Arabic "muhajir" often used in the earliest non-Islamic sources. It also calls them "Saracens".
Dots and hamzas added; otherwise, spelling uncorrected.
- بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم هذا ما اخذ عبد اله
- ابن جبر واصحبه من الجزر من اهنس
- من خليفة تدراق ابن ابو قير الاصغر ومن خليفة اصطفر ابن ابو قير الاكبر خمسين شاة
- من الجزر وخمس عشرة شاة اخرى اجزرها اصحاب سفنه وكتئبه وثقلاءه في
- شهر جمدى الاولى من سنة اثنين وعشرين وكتبه ابن حديدو
- In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful. This is what ʿAbdilah,
- Son of Jabir, and his companions-in-arms, have taken as of slaughter sheep at Heracleopolis (Ihnas)
- from a representative of Theodorakios (Tidraq), second son of Apa Kyros (Abu Qir), and from a substitute of Christophoros (Istufur), eldest son of Apa Kyros (Abu Qir), fifty sheep
- as of slaughter and fifteen other sheep. He gave them for slaughter for the crew of his vessels, as well as his cavalry and his breastplated infantry in
- the month of Jumada I in the year twenty-two. Written by Ibn Hadidu.