British researchers have used radiocarbon analysis to date fragments of a Qu'ran manuscript to the early days of Islam, the University of Birmingham announced Wednesday.
The school says the two parchment leaves are at least 1,370 years old, placing them among the oldest surviving Islamic manuscripts in the world.
Researchers were able to trace the parchment to the period between AD 568 and 645 with 95.4% accuracy. The university says the author may well have known the Prophet Muhammad, who is thought to have lived between AD 570 and 632.
"They could well take us back to within a few years of the actual founding of Islam," Professor David Thomas, a religious scholar, said in a statement.
The manuscript, which is written on goat or sheep skin, had been part of the university's collection for over a century, but its significance was unknown until a PhD researcher, Alba Fedeli, took a closer look.
Written in Hijazi, an early form of Arabic, the parchments feature the suras, or chapters, 18 to 20 of the Qur'an.
"The person who actually wrote it could well have known the Prophet Muhammad. He would have seen him probably, he would maybe have heard him preach," Thomas told the BBC. "He may have known him personally -- and that really is quite a thought to conjure with."
David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News in New York.
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