Conference 19 and 20 October 2016: The Ancient Languages of the Arabian Peninsula

On Wednesday October 19 and Thursday October 20, the Center for Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) of Qatar University and LeiCenSAA jointly organize a unique international conference on the Ancient Languages of the Arabian Peninsula in Qatar.

Conference description

This conference brings together the top internationally recognized scholars who study the ancient languages of the Arabian Peninsula. CHSS jointly sponsors this unique international conference with the Leiden Center for the Study of Ancient Arabia (LeiCenSAA), the first major center devoted to the study of the ancient history, ancient cultures, and ancient languages of Arabia. Under the direction of Dr. Ahmad al-Jallad, a dozen scholars will present their research on the following languages: Sabaic, Dadanic, Thamudic, Nabataen, early Islamic Arabic, and modern South Arabian languages. Although there have been symposia in Qatar on the archaeology of ancient Arabia, this will be the first conference devoted to the variety of indigenous languages, including the earliest examples of Arabic. The papers presented at the conference will be submitted to Brill Publishers for publication in a series devoted to the subject. Over two days this conference will provide an up-to-date, state-of-the-art focus on current research in these ancient languages and stimulate interest among faculty and students in the study of these languages as part of the region’s rich cultural heritage. This will be the first international conference in Qatar on the ancient languages of the Arabian Peninsula.

List of speakers and lectures

Ahmad Al-Jallad (Leiden)

Title: A Matter of Definition: Nomenclature, Linguistic Boundaries and Old Arabic’s place in the Epigraphic Record of Ancient Arabia

Ahmad Al-Jallad is Assistant Professor of Arabic and Semitic linguistics at Leiden University. He has done research on Arabic from the pre-Islamic period based on documentary sources, the Graeco-Arabica (Arabic in Greek transcription from the pre-Islamic period), language classification, North Arabian and Arabic epigraphy, and historical Semitic linguistic. His notable decipherments include a zodiac star calendar used in the Safaitic inscriptions (Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy, 2014), the oldest Arabic poem yet discovered (Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religion, 2015), and the decipherment of the oldest, fully vocalized Arabic text, written in Greek letters (Arabian Epigraphic Notes, 2015). He is the founding director of the Leiden Center for the Study of Ancient Arabia, and has led or been a member of several epigraphic and archaeological projects.

 Mario Kozah (AUB)

Title: The Arabian Oryx or Unicorn in Qaṭrayith – the Ancient East Arabian Language of Beth Qaṭraye

Mario Kozah received his B.A. (Queens' College, 1998) and Ph.D. (Trinity Hall, 2002) from the University of Cambridge in Oriental Studies.  After a Junior Research Fellowship at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, he moved to Lebanon in 2003 and began teaching Arabic and Syriac language and literature at the Department of Arabic and Near Eastern Languages and at CAMES. His first book is entitled The Syriac Writers of Qatar in the Seventh Century (Gorgias Press, 2014). He is currently preparing an anthology of writings by these same Syriac writers (forthcoming, Gorgias Press). In addition, he recently signed a contract with Cambridge Scholars Publishing to produce an edited volume on the Lebanese poet Jawdat Haydar entitled Jawdat Haydar’s Poetic Legacy: Issues of Modernity, Belonging, Language and Transcendence (CSP, 2015). Finally, his book manuscript entitled The Birth of Indology as an Islamic Science. Al-Biruni’s Treatise on Yoga Psychology has just been accepted by Brill Publishers for its series Islamic Philosophy, Theology and Science.

 Mohammad Maraqten (Heidelberg)

Title: Typology and Linguistic Style of the Ancient South Arabian Inscriptions

Mohammed Maraqten published intensively on Semitic epigraphy and in particular on Old South Arabian inscriptions. He is currently involved in the project "the irrigation systems in ancient Yemen: Epigraphic and historical research" (a DFG-project). In addition he is publishing the newly discovered Sabaic inscriptions from Mahram Bilqis (Yemen), and the South Arabian texts written on wooden sticks (the collection of the National Museum of Sanaa). He is epigrapher of the American Foundation for the Study of Man (AFSM) and is engaged on the project of this Foundation, which is continuing since 1998 at the Awam temple, Mahram Bilqis, near Ma'rib, Yemen. Currently he is working at the University of Heidelberg, Germany.

 Munir Arbach (CNRS)

Title: City-states and Kingdoms in the Region if the Jawf region (Yemen) in the First Millennium BC: An Example of Multilingualism

Mounir Arbach (PhD, Catholic University of Louvain) is a senior research fellow at the French Centre for Scientific Research. He has led or been a part of nearly a dozen expeditions in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and has published widely on the history and epigraphy of pre-Islamic Arabia. His main research interests include the establishment of city-states and the South Arabian kingdoms, and the political history and geography of Ancient Arabia at large.

 Alessia Prioletta (CNRS/Pisa)

Title: The Relationship among the Ancient South Arabian Languages Re-examined

Alessia Prioletta is a research fellow at the French Centre for Scientific Research and was formerly a member of the DASI project at the University of Pisa, led by Prof. Alessandra Avanzini. Her work focuses on the ancient languages of South Arabia, which has resulted in a monograph-length study of a corpus of new Hadramitic inscription, as well as several important articles on the grammar and writing culture of ancient Yemen. She is currently participating in epigraphic surveys of Central Arabia, around Riyadh, and the South Arabian frontier in the vicinity of Nagran.

Julien Dufour (Strasbourg)

Title: Modern South Arabian: A Branch of its Own

Julien Dufour is a researcher of Arabic and Semitic linguistics, specializing in the languages of Yemen and Oman. He works on poetry in modern Arabic dialects, Yemeni dialectology, and the Modern South Arabian languages (Soqotri, Jibbali/Shihri, Mehri). He is affiliated with the French center of archaeology and social sciences in Sanaa (CEFAS) and a member of the Atelier de traduction arabe de l'Ecole normale supérieure.

 Hani Hayajneh (Yarmouk University, Jordan)

Title: Centre versus Periphery: A reassessment of the Oasis-desert Divide in the Ancient North Arabicn Inscriptions from Jordan and North Arabia

Hani Hayajneh is a professor of Ancient Near Eastern Cultures and Languages at the faculty of Archaeology and Anthropology at Yarmouk University in Irbid, Jordan. His work focusses on Arabia and the Levant. He has published a number of research papers, books, articles and reviews on safeguarding cultural heritage and the cultural history of the Levant and Arabia.

 Janet Watson (Leeds)

Title: The Linguistic Tapestry of South-western Arabia

Janet Watson is a holds the Leadership Chair for Language at Leeds. Her main research interests lie in the documentation of Modern South Arabian languages and modern Arabic dialects, with particular focus on theoretical phonological and morphological approaches to language varieties spoken within the south-western Arabian Peninsula. Since 2006, she has been documenting dialects of Mehri, one of six endangered Modern South Arabian languages spoken in the far south of the Arabian Peninsula. Since January 2013, she has been leading a 48-month project to document the four most en dangered Modern South Arabian languages, Ś ḥeret (also known as Jibbali), Harsusi, Hobyot and Bathari, and collect additional texts on Mehri. 

Last Modified: 25-10-2016