Dating Ibn Aʿtham’s History

McLaren, Andrew

This article is an attempt to settle the debate about the floruit of the largely obscure Ibn Aʿtham al-Kūfī and the date of the composition of his history. The standard death date given for him, 314/926–27, was recently revealed to be scholarly guesswork, and more than one scholar has argued in recent decades that the history may have been partially composed as early as 204/819–20. But the revision is mistaken, and this article presents three arguments to show why. First, manuscript evidence undermines the basis for the early dating. Second, the comparative examination of a cluster of isnāds in the history that have often been discarded as unusable reveals Ibn Aʿtham’s connections to authorities active at the end of the third/ninth century. And third, building on the work of Ilkka Lindstedt, I affirm and further specify Ibn Aʿtham’s likely floruit on the basis of a network of biographical connections to Ibn Aʿtham. The conclusion offers a pair of suggestions for locating Ibn Aʿtham’s history within the broader scheme of Islamicate historiography.


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Al-ʿUsur al-Wusta
Columbia University Libraries

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Published Here
December 7, 2022


Ibn Aʿtham, Dating, Arabic historiography, isnads, biobibliography