The discovery of Manichaean literature at Medinat Madu

There is an excellent and delightful article on this here, which I thoroughly recommend.  I can’t wait for the next part, on the Turfan discoveries!

For those interested, I have some rather dry notes on the discovery of the Medinat Madu codices here.


Dionysius of Alexandria on Gutenberg

Mike Aquilina draws my attention to a new arrival on Gutenberg, the old SPCK translation of letters and treatises by Dionysius of Alexandria.  It’s here, and done rather splendidly!  I didn’t even know the book existed, or I should long since have scanned it.

Thank you Mike!  And thank you Gutenberg!


Getting a TP-Link wifi router to work with Orange Broadband

Some time back my broadband wifi router packed up, and I had to buy another.  I bought a TP-Link ADSL2 and wireless modem, model TD-W8960N.  Since my PC is always next to my router, I connected using the wire, and never worried about wireless.  I entered the connection details for Orange broadband, and it all worked fine.

But earlier this week the heat-wave arrived.  When I tried to use my PC downstairs, it could not connect to the internet.  It connected to the router by wifi alright.  I could tell, because I could enter in my browser, and get the login page for the router, and login using the default admin/admin user and password.  The router connected to the internet fine as well, as I could tell because I could connect to Google fine so long as I was plugged in.  But the two would not work together.

I could tell that I was getting out onto the web OK — I could ping sites by IP address, such as Yahoo at  But any attempt to use a domain name failed. 

Orange supply DNS servers automatically.  This was working — I could see the server addresses appearing in the router login page.  But it didn’t help.

In desperation I used the details on the TP-Link contact page and wrote to them.  To my astonishment I got useful, helpful emails back.

This evening I got this one:

If you are using windows 7, please go to Start> Control panel> Network and Internet> Network and sharing center> Change adapter settings (Left Side Menu)> Right click Wireless network connection> Properties>double click Internet Protocol Version 4(TCP/IPv4)> please make sure “Obtain an IP address automatically” ” Obtain an DNS server address automatically ” have been selected. And then, please click OK, click again.

If you have done this already, but you still cannot successfully connected to the wireless network, please Start> Control panel> Network and Internet> Network and sharing center> Change adapter settings (Left Side Menu)> Right click Wireless network connection> Properties>double click Internet Protocol Version 4(TCP/IPv4)> this time, please selected “Obtain an IP address automatically” and “Use the following IP address”, the primary DNS server address, please type, the secondary DNS server address, please leave it blank. And then, please click OK, click again.

And … when I went into the properties, I found that “Obtain a DNS server address automatically” was unselected, and some IP address was in there.  Why it was there I know not.  But once I selected that, everything worked.

I don’t write many technical posts, but since I couldn’t find the answer online, I thought that I had better post something myself.


Table of contents of Brockelmann’s history of Arabic literature

I’ve been looking at the 1898 edition, and the contents gives an idea of the subject all by itself.  Here is the opening portion:

Introduction 1

Book 1. The Arab national literature.

Section 1.  From the beginnings to the emergence of Muhammad.

1.  The Arabic language. . 11
2.  The beginnings of poetry 12
3.  The forms of Arabic poetry 13
4.  General characteristics of early Arabic poetry. 14
5.  The tradition of ancient Arabic poetry. … 16
6.  Sources of our knowledge of ancient Arabic poetry. 17
7.  The six poets 22
8.  Other poets of the heathen days 24
9.  Jewish and Christian poets before Islam. . 28
10.  The beginnings of Arabic prose 31

Section 2.  Muhammed and his times.

1.  Muhammed the Prophet 32
2.  The Koran 33
3.  Lebid and al A`Sa  36
4.  Hassan b. Tabit 37
5.  Ka`b b. Zuhair. . 38
6.  Mutammim b. Nuwaira 39
7.  Al Hansa’  40
8.  Abu Mihgan and al Hutai’a 40
9.  Lesser poets   41
10.  Two forgeries  43

Section 3.  The Umayyad era.

1.  General Characteristics 44
2.  `Omar b. abi Rabi `a 45
3.  Other poets in Arabia 47
4.  Al Ahtal 49
5.  Al Ferazdaq 53
6.  Gerir 56
7.  Du’r Rumma 58
8.  The Regez poets. . 59
9.  Lesser poet, 60
10.  Prose literature in the age of the Umayyads. . 64

Book 2.  Islamic literature in Arabic.

Section 1. The classical period from ca. 750 to ca. 1000

Introduction 71
1.  Poetry 72

A. The Poets of Baghdad 73
B. Poets in Iraq and the Gezira. . 83
C. Poets in Arabia and Syria. 83
D. The circle of Saifeddaula. 86
E.  Egyptian poets. 91

2.  Prose 92
3.  Philology 96

3.1.  The school of Basra. . 98
3.2.  The school of Kufa, 114
3.3.  The School of Baghdad. 120
3.4.  Linguistics in Persia and the eastern countries 127
3.5.  Linguistic studies in Egypt and Spain   131

4.  History 133

4.1.  The history of Muhammed   134
4.2.  Town histories 137
4.3.  History of Arabian antiquity 138
4.4.  Political and World History 140
4.5.  Cultural and Literary History 146
4.6.  History of Egypt and North Africa 148
4.7.  History of Spain. 149

5.  Prose commentaries 151
6.  The hadith 156
7.  Al Fiqh 168

7.1.  The Hanafites 169
7.2.  The Malikites 175
7.3.  The Shaf `ites 178
7.4.  The lesser schools 181
7.5.  The Shi `a 184

8.  Koran studies 188

8.1.  The copying of the Koran  188
8.2.  The interpretation of the Koran   190

9.  Dogmatics 192
10.  Mysticism. 197
11.  Translations 201
12.  Philosophy 208
13.  Mathematics 215
14.  Astronomy and astrology 220
15.  Geography 225
16.  Medicine 230
17.  Natural sciences and the occult ……. 240
18.  Encyclopadias 244

Section 2. The post-classical period of Islamic literature from approximately 400 (1010) to approximately 656 (1258). …

Isn’t it interesting to see the large part played by poetry?


BBC: Those Christians are out rioting again

A curious report here from the BBC.  Apparently a Coptic business man has reposted a cartoon of Mickey and Minne Mouse in Moslem dress.  I found the Minnie mouse one online, which I attach; I couldn’t locate the other.  Apparently a Moslem cartoonist has — rightly — retaliated with a cartoon of said businessman, which again I have not seen.  And extremist Moslem leaders are calling for his head for being disrespectful.  Nothing special there.

But much more important is how the BBC reports the situation in Egypt.

The outcry comes at a time of tension between Egypt’s Christians and Muslims. …

But many have questioned his wisdom in sharing the cartoons at a time of tensions between Coptic Christians and conservative Muslims.

Scores of people have been wounded and several killed in clashes between the two communities in recent months, and there are fears this row will increase the chances of more sectarian clashes in the run up to post-revolution elections in September.

In each case the BBC puts “Christians” first.  It refers to “tensions” — weasel wording — “between Coptic Christians and conservative Moslems”.  

What is actually happening is an onslaught on the Coptic community by Moslem groups, now that Mubarak is out of power, as can be seen in many online news reports.  But the phrasing plays that down, and carefully creates a false equivalence.

The BBC also uses the term “conservative” — the major British right-of-centre party — to describe the extremists.   I’m sure the news team laughed as they did that.

It’s like reading TASS or Pravda in the old Soviet days.

Whatever I want from the BBC, for which my taxes pay, it is not this.

UPDATE: The Islamic Mickey Mouse seems very hard to find.  Here’s a low-quality version:

What I’d like now, to complete the set, is the cartoon of the businessman!  Anyone know where it is?


From my diary

Small stuff today. 

A revised version of the leaflet for the Eusebius book arrived today — better, but not there yet. 

Also a note from the library that Bloch, God’s plagiarist, — a biography of the Abbe Migne — has arrived. 

I’ve started in on the OCR of the first edition of Brockelmann’s Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur, but not got very far. 

And no, I haven’t managed to get my Wifi working yet!


Death by heatstroke

Some days nothing works.  It was 30.5C outside when I came out from work, and it’s hotter than hell up here in the study room.  I was going to take my PC downstairs, where I have an aircon unit working, but today, of all days, my Wifi has decided to take a break.  After an hour and a quarter, I’ve given up and am sitting here doing what I have to do.

For some reason the hardback of the Eusebius book has dropped off — all that is accessible is the import from the US.  Will have to email them and enquire why.  Some sort of kink in the distribution chain.

Another draft of the leaflet for the book, to go in the pack at the patristics conference has arrived, but I’m too knacked to look at it.  And a nice email from someone involved in the project asking about reviews and offering to help.

Too hot to do anything this evening, I think!


From my diary

I have volume 1 of Brockelmann’s Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur (2nd ed. 1941) on order via my library.  But a correspondent sent me an interesting word document yesterday.  He’d downloaded volume 1 of the 1898 first edition, run it through some OCR, and then run the output through Google Translate.  The .doc file contained the result, which was really rather interesting, and by no means useless.

Last night I also downloaded the PDF, and I ran Finereader 10 against it during the night.  The results were not too bad, although I gather that quotations may not be handled that well.  The PDF resolution is not that great, unfortunately.  Footnotes tended to be handled rather badly.  I started correcting the OCR of the main text, but had to go away unexpectedly, which prevented further progress.  But I will do more next week, if Adam’s curse permits.

While I was hunting for PDF’s of Brockelmann, I found another interesting item, Nicholson’s 1907 book, A literary history of the Arabs.  This looked interesting enough that I ordered a version on paper from Amazon.  We have to ignore the early chapters, dedicated to pre-islamic material — at least, that isn’t what I want to read about — but it gets quite interesting from the Ummayad period on.  Something I can scribble on is what I need.

I’m still cursing Brill for the price they place on Brockelmann’s second edition.  A thousand dollars, for heaven’s sake, for a thousand page paperback!?! 

Let’s see what kind of a grasp of Arabic literature I can get.


Arrian’s lost work on “After Alexander” and what survives of it

The second century writer Arrian is our best source for the life of Alexander the Great, using impeccable sources then extant but now lost.  A number of his other works are extant, and indeed his work On hunting even exists in English, and can be found on 

But equally interesting to us is his Τα μετὰ Αλέξανδρον, After Alexander.  This work in ten books is lost, but we know of it from Photius, who, in his Bibliotheca, also gives us a long summary of its contents.  This 9th century epitome, made casually as part of this enormous work, is one of our major sources for the early years of the Succcessor period, from the death of Alexander in 323 to the summer of 319.  The work clearly existed in a complete form when Photius read it, which makes it a pity that it did not survive the next few centuries. 

However I learn that we do have a little more.  For it seems that some leaves from one or more copies were reused, and these palimpsest leaves have reached us. 

The first of these is a Vatican palimpsest, ms. Vaticanus 495, which contains two leaves — a single bifolium — which appear as folios 230, and 235.  This was discovered in 1886 by Reitzenstein, and published in 1888.(1)  The leaves seem to be 10th century.  The pages contain a portion of the account of the doomed Egyptian campaign of Perdiccas, which ended in his death, the destruction of the central authority, and the foundation of the power and prestige of the Ptolemaic dynasty.  The editor believed the extract to be from book 7 of the work. 

The second survival was discovered much more recently by Jacques Noret in 1977 at Göteborg, ms. Graecus 1, folios 72 and 73, and was published by him with diplomatic transcription,  a “normal” text, and a French translation.(2)  This has a portion of book 10.  A discussion with images of the pages was published by B. Dreyer in 1999, and I think this is online.(3) The manuscript contains Dionysius Periegetes (f. 1-40) and then the commentary of Eustathius upon it (f. 48-142).  The first was written in the 14th century, the commentary 14-15th c.

 There is also a papyrus of the 2nd century, so very close to the date of composition, published by V. Bartoletti in 1951, which contains a portion of the struggle between Eumenes, Craterus and Neoptolemus. 

So it looks as if at least one 10th century manuscript existed down to the renaissance, when it was dismembered for use as raw materials!

1. Reitzenstein, Arriani τῶν μετὰ Αλέξανδρον libri septimi fragmenta e codice Vaticano rescripto nuper iteratis curis lecto, Breslauer philologische Abhandlungen Bd. 3, H. 3, Breslau 1888, S. 1–36.
2. Noret, Analecta Bollandia 95, 1977, 269–73. Noret, Ant. Class. 52, 1982, 235–242.
3. Boris Dreyer, Zum ersten Diadochenkrieg: Der Göteborger Arrian-Palimpsest (ms Graec 1), Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 125 (1999) 39–60. This contains colour images of the Göteborg leaves and monochrome ones — rather poor — of the Vatican leaves.


Brockelmann’s Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur and the greed of Brill

I realised this evening that I really do need to look at the definitive work on Arabic literature, the Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur by Carl Brockelmann.  He did a first edition back in 1898, and a second edition in 1943.  The second edition is the standard work.  It was issued in two volumes, and there were three volumes of supplements.

I discover this evening that it is available for sale at the Brill website, in a single volume form.  Oh goodie, I thought — until I saw the price.  They wanted, for this lump of paper costing around $25 to manufacture at most, nearly $1,000!  And the resale value is almost nothing.

There is an Arabic translation, but not an English translation.  The Arabic translation has been bootlegged and is freely accessible online.

As a publisher myself, I don’t deny Brill the right to a reasonable profit.  But a price like that means that no-one can afford a copy. 

It’s ridiculous.  It’s also very short-sighted.  And it is hardly fair to Prof. Brockelmann, now long dead, who doubtless was paid little or nothing for his efforts.  He died in 1956, which means his work will come out of copyright in 2026.  But that does none of us any good now.

Yet … to read it means a paper copy, at least for most of us, where corners can be turned down and bits underlined and notes written in the margin.

Because it is a reference volume, just borrowing it from a library is probably difficult.  But I’ve had a go this evening.  Let’s see if anyone will lend me a copy of vol. 1, which covers literature to the end of the Ummayad period.  It’s worth a try.

If it does work, I will probably make a copy of it for my own purposes, and get around the problem that way.  But I am perfectly willing to buy a copy, at say $50, if only they would sell them at that price.