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‘Allah the Divider’ was Lost in the Public House: A Pocketknife with Arabic Inscriptions from Colonial Brunswick Town

Author(s): Jennifer Gabriel-Powell ; Thomas Beaman

Year: 2014

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Summary

Located on the Cape Fear River, Brunswick Town was one of the most active trans-Atlantic ports in eighteenth century North Carolina, particularly in the export of naval stores. Sometime between 1726-1776, a small brass pocketknife was lost by someone in the Public House. While the majority of artifacts recovered by archaeologists may be a result of loss, what makes this pocketknife significant is the Arabic script embossed on each side of the knife, with quotes from the Quran reading ‘Allah the Divider’ and ‘There is No God but God’. The style of Arabic places its origin from the Malay Peninsula in Southeast Asia. The presence of this small but unique pocketknife speaks not only to the network of global trade of material goods, but also to the material evidence of people of various nationalities and beliefs that may have reached even small regional ports during the eighteenth century.


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Cite this Record

‘Allah the Divider’ was Lost in the Public House: A Pocketknife with Arabic Inscriptions from Colonial Brunswick Town. Jennifer Gabriel-Powell, Thomas Beaman. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 436707)


Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-14,05

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America