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 (Jumada I, year 22) and in the Alexandrian calendar (30 Pharmouthi, 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 `Abdallah,
- 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.