DISCOVERY

'Oldest' Koran Fragments Found in U.K.

Researchers from the University of Birmingham in the U.K. said Tuesday they may have found fragments from one of the world's oldest Koran manuscripts among the archives of the school's library. A radiocarbon dating test found the manuscript to be at least 1,370 years old, making it among the very oldest surviving texts of the Koran. The manuscript, written in an early form of Arabic, went unrecognized in the university's library for nearly a century after it was brought back from Iraq in the 1920s. The tests showed the fragments were written on sheep or goat skin and with a probability of more than 95 percent, date between 568 and 645. "They could well take us back to within a few years of the actual founding of Islam," said David Thomas, the university's professor of Christianity and Islam.