The oldest excerpts from the Quran have been discovered in the cellars of the Yemeni capital Sanaa’s Great Mosque, daily Bugün has reported, adding that former Turkish Religious Affairs Director Tayyar Altıkulaç has gone to examine the pieces.
“Workers saw the Quran pieces when they opened the cellar. Why do we call them pieces? Because in the early periods of Islam, there were not too many Qurans and people used to read it by cutting it into pieces. These pieces were worn down as they were transferred from person to person. After the development of writing, Qurans increased in number and these pieces were gathered and kept in a place.
When the door of the cellar was opened, snakes came out. The cellar has a window and water came in from there. This is why some of these pieces decomposed and got dirty,” said Altıkulaç, underlining the importance of the discovery.
According to the daily, the pieces of the holy book were discovered during restoration works that started on the mosque after a collapse in the structure.
Some of the pieces have previously been sold at London auction houses by former governors, he said.
“The Quran pieces need restoration at the moment. They have been kept randomly in 20 sacks.”
He said the pieces were under the responsibility of the Yemeni Culture Ministry and that they should be handled one by one and restored.
“Some of the Quran pieces are from the companions of the Prophet Muhammed and some date back to second and third centuries. They are very important sources for the academic world,” he said.