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    Language policy and the administrative framework of early Islamic Egypt

    Cromwell, Jennifer ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0228-1371 (2023) Language policy and the administrative framework of early Islamic Egypt. In: Ancient Egyptian Society: challenging assumptions, exploring approaches. Routledge, London, pp. 299-312. ISBN 9780367418281 (hardback); 9780367434632 (paperback): 9781003003403 (ebook)

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    Documents from the first century of Islamic rule in Egypt provide a detailed view of administrative practices, especially concerning management of the taxation system. Early scholarship on the nature of post-conquest rule emphasized continuity with the previous Byzantine regime, attributing it primarily to the inexperience of the new rulers. In contrast, recent scholarship has stressed that Arabic documents appear in Egypt from soon after the conquest and that Arabic was used increasingly over this century, as part of the Arabization of the administration. These two interpretations present only a partial image of a more complicated system, as they overlook the role of Coptic. For the first time, Coptic was employed as an official administrative language, used for a range of document-types connected with taxation. This article challenges previous scholarship on language use within Egypt’s administration, arguing that a third language policy existed in which indigenous languages were incorporated into the imperial machinery when it was pragmatic to do so.

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