A Preliminary Syriac, Aramaic and Arabic Lexical and Toponymical Survey of Beth Qaṭraye
Based on historical, Archaeological and Lexicographical Evidence
Beth Qaṭraye, Syriac for “region of the Qataris”, is a term found in Syriac literature referring to the region of North-East Arabia including Qatar and Bahrain from the fourth to the ninth centuries. Beth Qaṭraye was an important cultural, linguistic and religious crossroads in the pre-Islamic and early Islamic period when it produced one of the most widely translated Syriac authors of all time (Isaac of Nineveh, called after his bishopric, who is also known as Isaac Qaṭraya or “the Qatari”). A number of other important Syriac authors also came from Beth Qaṭraye in this period, and scholarship has so far only focused on these Syriac authors and their writings rather than other aspects of Beth Qaṭraye. The team of this project has just published two ground-breaking books on these Syriac authors from Beth Qaṭraye (see Publications). Such a historical reality reveals the important fact that the Syriac community there was not only surviving but producing the finest and most educated authors of the time many of whom became an intellectual, spiritual or religious leaders in the Middle East as a whole. The objective of this research project is to collect and analyze information on the pre-Islamic and early Islamic historical geography and toponyms of the Beth Qaṭraye region from the most important available sources as well as later toponymical studies. The toponyms will shed light on the language of Beth Qaṭraye in the pre-Islamic and early Islamic period by analyzing their Syriac, Aramaic and Arabic etymology and name components. The historical and archaeological geography will clarify the cultural relations between this region and other areas around the Gulf, and how patterns of social predominance shifted over time. This will provide a better understanding of not only the dynamics of society within Beth Qaṭraye, but also the place of Beth Qaṭraye within the larger history of the Middle East in the pre-Islamic and early Islamic periods. The second objective of this project is to determine the set of lexemes that are designated in the Syriac/Arabic lexicon of Bar Bahlul and other Syriac texts such as the Synodicon Orientale and the East-Syriac Anonymous Commentary as belonging to the dialect of Beth Qaṭraye. This will shed important light on the languages and dialects that were in use in the Arabian Peninsula not only in the pre-Islamic period, but also what has survived there in the post-Islamic period since Ibn Bahlul, for example, belongs to the tenth century. The project will produce a number of publications including a toponymical and a lexical dictionary in addition to an online lexical search tool and a project website.
Team members / Key investigators
Dr Haya Al Thani (LPI. Qatar University)
Dr Saif al-Murikhi (Qatar University)
Dr Abdulrahim Abu-Husayn (American University of Beirut)
Dr George Kiraz (Beth Mardutho: The Syriac Institute and Rutgers University)
Dr Mario Kozah (American University of Beirut)
Submitting Institution: Qatar University
Collaborating institutions: American University of Beirut and Beth Mardutho The Syriac Institute.
Acknowledgment: This website was made possible by NPRP grant NPRP9-002-6-001from the Qatar National Research Fund (a member of Qatar Foundation). The statements made herein are solely the responsibility of the authors.