Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition

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(5,427 words)

1. In pre-Islamic times. The Greek word naphtha is probably borrowed from Semitic, for in Akkadian literature from Northern ʿIrāḳ the word napṭu is well attested. There the substance could be easily found and its special qualities soon discovered. In Sumerian it is described as “mountain oil”, in contrast to “fish oil” and “vegetable oil”. In Aramaic it has been linked by assonance with the root n-ṭ-p , which commonly describes oozing blood or dripping water, but the link is weak and it is safer to assume the nominal stem has been simply borrowed in Greek.

Akkadian literature distinguishes…

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Richardson, M.E.J., Christides, V. and Ferrier, R.W., “Nafṭ”, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition, Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs. Consulted online on 29 May 2020 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1573-3912_islam_COM_0834>
First published online: 2012
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004161214, 1960-2007

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