World's oldest Koran discovered in Birmingham
AN Islamic manuscript discovered in the University of Birmingham library has been identified as one of the world's oldest fragments of the Koran.
Radiocarbon analysis has dated the now "globally significant" parchment bearing the text to a period between AD 568 and 645 with 95.4pc accuracy.
The results of the test, conducted at the University of Oxford, strongly suggest the manuscript was written less than 20 years after the death of the Prophet Mohammed.
Professor David Thomas, professor of Christianity and Islam at the University of Birmingham, said: "The radiocarbon dating of the Birmingham Koran folios has yielded a startling result and reveals one of the most surprising secrets of the university's collections. They could well take us back to within a few years of the actual founding of Islam."
He added: "This means that the parts of the Koran that are written on this parchment can, with a degree of confidence, be dated to less than two decades after Mohammed's death.
"These portions must have been in a form that is very close to the form of the Koran read today."