The ancient near East and islam: The case of lot-casting

Patricia Crone*, Adam Silverstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This article is a contribution to the question how far there was continuity between ancient Near Eastern and Islamic culture. It focuses on the practice of using lot-casting to allocate inheritance shares, conquered land, and official functions, and briefly surveys the history of this practice from ancient through Hellenistic to pre-Islamic times in order to examine its Islamic forms as reflected in historical and legal sources. It is argued that the evidence does suggest continuity between the ancient and the Islamic Near East, above all in the first century of the hijra, but also long thereafter, if only at a fairly low level of juristic interest. The article concludes with some general consideration of the problems involved in the study of the two disconnected periods of Near Eastern history.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)423-450
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Semitic Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes


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