Mesoamerican writing systems A stone slab with 3,year-old writing, the Cascajal Blockwas discovered in the Mexican state of Veracruz, and is an example of the oldest script in the Western Hemisphere, preceding the oldest Zapotec writing dated to about BC. The earliest inscriptions which are identifiably Maya date to the 3rd century BC, and writing was in continuous use until shortly after the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores in the 16th century AD. Maya writing used logograms complemented by a set of syllabic glyphs: Iron Age writing[ edit ] Cippus PerusinusEtruscan writing near PerugiaItalythe precursor of the Latin alphabet The Phoenician alphabet is simply the Proto-Canaanite alphabet as it was continued into the Iron Age conventionally taken from a cut-off date of BC.
While the two other dominant While it certainly seems reasonable to assume that systems of writing that were invented in the Middle the invention of the alphabet made the process of East — Mesopotamian cuneiform and Egyptian hi- scribal training much easier, no immediate correla- eroglyphs — eventually died out along with their tion can be made between alphabetic writing and associated cultures thus requiring them to be de- broad literacy.
The Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions, first world today. In fact, with the notable exceptions discovered2 by W. Flinders Petrie in and of Chinese and Japanese, the most common lan- supplemented by additional finds in subsequent de- guages of the world utilize alphabetic scripts Latin, cadesconsist of linear pictographic symbols in- Cyrillic, Arabic, Perso-Arabic, Devanagari, and scribed on statuettes, stone panels, and rock faces Bengali that are ultimately descended from the at Serabit el-Khadem, an ancient Egyptian mining linear West Semitic alphabet.
More recently, in the The functional advantage of the alphabet over mids, two single-line rock inscriptions were other writing systems lies in its economy. In con- discovered at the desert site of Wadi el-Hol, near trast to logographic systems, in which a given sym- Thebes in Upper Egypt, 3 in a script that strongly bol denotes a word, or to syllabic writing, in which resembles the Proto-Sinaitic texts.
Due to the lack a sign represents a full syllable of sound, alphabetic of stratified archaeological contexts for these finds, writing is characterized by the graphic represen- absolute dates have proven difficult to establish, tation of phonemes, that is, the shortest contras- though some scholars place them as early as the tive units of sound in a language consonants or beginning of the second millennium bc Dynasty 12 vowelsthereby greatly decreasing the number of in Egypt on the basis of associated Egyptian mate- signs.
As a consequence, typical alphabetic systems rial as well as historical considerations. This would no doubt have made the sys- the origins of the alphabet. On the one hand, most tem easier to learn and master. The earliest West if not all of these earliest pictographs have plau- Semitic alphabet was characterized, incidentally, by sible connections to Egyptian hieroglyphic and the exclusive writing of consonants, a system that perhaps hieratic symbols, 5 implying that the in- exploits a feature in the phonological structure of ventors were influenced at some level by Egyptian all Semitic languages, wherein every syllable begins writing see fig.
On the other hand, the pho- with a consonant. For instance, the sign for high level of literacy, as is sometimes suggested. The latter is a process that takes years word that also comes to be the name of the let- even in modern times and is connected to a whole ter.
For comparison, the Modern Hebrew name host of factors such as access to education and the for the corresponding letter is precisely kaph; note oi. Script correspondence chart of select alphabetic signs also the Greek letter name kappa.
This association occur, if in fact one of these sites represents the of the letter name kaph with its initial phoneme ultimate place of origin. In fact, realm, inspired iconographically by hieroglyphic it is based on this assumption that the Sinai in- writing but not bound by its modes of expression.
First, here we have additional data of a different kind. This system, which appears While the earliest datable Proto-Canaanite inscrip- not to have been based on Sumero-Akkadian syl- tion, the Lachish Dagger a highly pictographic labic cuneiform, was used not only for writing texts four-sign inscriptioncan be attributed to the sev- of all genres in the local West Semitic language of enteenth century bc on archaeological grounds,9 Ugaritic, but occasionally for other languages as the majority of the Proto-Canaanite objects come well e.
Among the roughly two thou- from the thirteenth century and later. Ugaritic abecedary from Ras Shamra RS This needs of scribal writing at Ugarit. The twenty- alphabet consisted of thirty signs, with the first two—letter alphabet would then represent a simpli- twenty-seven representing distinct consonantal fication of this earlier system, in keeping with the phonemes, and the last three being variations on phonetic merging of various consonants occurring two of the other phonemes 28 and 29 in the in later West Semitic.
When served in later Phoenician. For these reasons, it is twenty-two available signs, making practical accom- not unreasonable to surmise that a linear alphabet modation where necessary.
Whether this was due to of twenty-seven signs was also used in the northern the perceived prestige of the Phoenician script or Levant during this period, and that the Ugaritic al- some other reason is difficult to ascertain. In any phabet was a conceptual adaptation of it for cunei- case, while the direction of writing and orienta- form writing.
The last three signs, 28—30, would tion of letters remained stable, the shapes of the oi. In particular, the pp. The first-millennium stabilization of the alpha- 4 For instance, Darnell and colleaguesp.
Similarly, others such as Orly Goldwasserpp. According to classical tradi- context for both the Serabit el-Khadem and Wadi el-Hol texts.
However, some scholars have ar- 5 Hamiltonpp.
Such a hypothesis certainly alphabet were not trained in Egyptian hieroglyphic writ- has its merits, but it cannot be embraced unreserv- ing and merely used it as an iconic model. At the other ex- edly until further inscriptional data emerge in sup- treme, Darnell and colleaguesp.
Shemesh in Palestine, conforming not to the famil- 11 On the el-Khadr arrowheads, see Milik and Cross For a recent critique, see Sasspp. The Old South Arabian alphabet consists of twenty-nine signs representing twenty-nine consonants, the most of any Egyptian Grammar:Cuneiform: Cuneiform, system of writing used in the ancient Middle East.
The name, a coinage from Latin and Middle French roots meaning ‘wedge-shaped,’ has been the modern designation from the early 18th century onward. Learn more about cuneiform’s development and influence.
The Development of the English Alphabet. The earliest known forms of writing represented words with pictures. Cuneiform started by the Sumerians and hieroglyphics used by the Egyptians were two of the original ways of communicating in written form. monstermanfilm.com the invention and development of the alphabet the invention and development of the alphabet joseph lam O f the various writing systems that emerged functional role of writing in society.1 In fact, it is out of the ancient Middle East, the al- doubtful whether literacy was at all a necessary phabet has undoubtedly exerted the most skill for the vast proportion of people.
The history of the alphabet started in ancient monstermanfilm.com BCE Egyptian writing had a set of some 22 hieroglyphs to represent syllables that begin with a single consonant of their language, plus a vowel (or no vowel) to be supplied by the native speaker.
These glyphs were used as pronunciation guides for logograms, to write grammatical inflections, and, later, to transcribe loan words and. The history of the alphabet started in ancient monstermanfilm.com BCE Egyptian writing had a set of some 22 hieroglyphs to represent syllables that begin with a single consonant of their language, plus a vowel (or no vowel) to be supplied by the native speaker.
These glyphs were used as pronunciation guides for logograms, to write grammatical inflections, and, later, to transcribe loan words and.
The following information on the development of the Greek alphabet should be taken as general background. We've listed some books and other resources for you to follow if you find the history of the alphabet especially fascinating.