Institut für den Nahen und Mittleren Osten



Current Research Project Eugenio Garosi

Names between Faiths: Conversion to Islam as Reflected in Onomastic Patterns and Scribal Practices in Early Islamic Documentary Archives

The present project sets out to develop a comprehensive diachronic overview of onomastic change in documentary sources of the early Islamicate societies as indicators of social trends. By looking at the Arabization of first names in papyri and related sources, it aims at infusing the insights gained from the thousands of original documents into current debates on the process of conversion to Islam in the pre-modern period. Combining data extracted from Arabic, Greek, Coptic, and Middle Iranian documents on papyrus, parchment and paper as well as ostraka of the 7th to 10th centuries, the study will explore the relationships of onomastic patterns and other social identifiers with semantic domains to differentiate instances of conversion to Islam from the parallel process of Arabization. This approach is intended as a methodological revision, expansion, and corrective to pioneering studies based on literary evidence—such as Richard Bulliet’s work on conversion to Islam in the medieval period. The project’s aim is to make the collected data digitally available, subsequently making them easily accessible for papyrologists, linguists, and social and religious historians alike.

Supported by: Azrieli International Postdoctoral Fellowship

Academic patron: Uriel Simonsohn (University of Haifa, Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies)