Carbon dating quartz
Most of us are familiar with the biblical account of the fallen angels found in Genesis 6.
These angels who “left their first estate” produced gigantic, hybrid offspring with human women, men of renown as Scripture calls them. Where is the evidence of these giants who made the Israelites feel like “grasshoppers” when they entered the Promised Land?
Recent scholarly work on early manuscript fragments of the Quran such as those discovered in Sana‘a, Yemen in 1972 gave us portions of Quranic text carbon-dated to a few years after the Quran was officially standardised by one of Muhammad’s early successors, the caliph ‘Uthman, in around 650 CE.
But there has been little clinching evidence to settle the debate about the dating of the text from a scholarly rather than devotional perspective. Two Quran fragments unknowingly held since 1936 in the University of Birmingham’s manuscript collection have been definitively dated to the era of Muhammad’s life or a little later.
First, from those historians who are cautious, even sceptical about carbon-dating as a tool of evidence.Clearly, Quranic verses with a very close match to the version we have today were being transcribed during or soon after the Prophet’s lifetime.So historians of early Islam have good reason to feel excited, if not gratified, by this discovery.Historical artefacts like moa bones can be dated using a technique that measures the activity of the radioisotope carbon-14 still present in the sample.By comparing this with a modern standard, an estimate of the calendar age of the artefact can be made.
The other group who may find fault with this discovery are those writers for whom Islam is a collection of ideas and strictures developed in a much later (post-conquest) era and projected back on to the seventh century.