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 sculpture depicts a scene where three soothsayers are interpreting to King Suddhodana the dream of Queen Mayamother of Gautama Buddha.
Of all the accomplishments of the ancient Middle East, the invention of the alphabet is probably the greatest. While pre-alphabetic systems of writing in the Old World became steadily more phonetic, they were still exceedingly cumbersome, and the syllabic systems that gradually replaced them… Theories of the origin of the alphabet The evolution of old time writing alphabet alphabet involved two important achievements.
The first was the step taken by a group of Semitic-speaking people, perhaps the Phoenicians, on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean between and bce. This was the invention of a consonantal writing system known as North Semitic. The second was the invention, by the Greeks, of characters for representing vowels.
This step occurred between and bce. While some scholars consider the Semitic writing system an unvocalized syllabary and the Greek system the true alphabet, both are treated here as forms of the alphabet.
Over the centuries, various theories have been advanced to explain the origin of alphabetic writing, and, since Classical times, the problem has been a matter of serious study. The Greeks and Romans considered five different peoples as the possible inventors of the alphabet—the Phoenicians, Egyptians, Assyrians, Cretans, and Hebrews.
Among modern theories are some that are not very different from those of ancient days. Every country situated in or more or less near the eastern Mediterranean has been singled out for the honour.
Egyptian writingcuneiformCretan, hieroglyphic Hittite, the Cypriot syllabaryand other scripts have all been called prototypes of the alphabet. The Egyptian theory actually subdivides into three separate theories, according to whether the Egyptian hieroglyphic, the hieratic, or the demotic script is regarded as the true parent of alphabetic writing.
Similarly, the idea old time writing alphabet cuneiform was the precursor of the alphabet may also be subdivided into those singling out Sumerian, Babylonian, or Assyrian cuneiform. Among the various other theories concerning the alphabet are the hypotheses that the alphabet was taken by the Philistines from Crete to Palestine, that the various ancient scripts of the Mediterranean countries developed from prehistoric geometric symbols employed throughout the Mediterranean area from the earliest times, and that the proto-Sinaitic inscriptions discovered since in the Sinai Peninsula represent a stage of writing intermediate between the Egyptian hieroglyphics and the North Semitic alphabet.
Another hypothesisthe Ugaritic theory, evolved after an epoch-making discovery in and the years following at the site of the ancient Ugariton the Syrian coast opposite the most easterly cape of Cyprus.
Thousands of clay tablets were found there, documents of inestimable value in many fields of research including epigraphyphilologyand the history of religion. Dating from the 15th and 14th centuries bce, they were written in a cuneiform alphabet of 30 letters. The Early Canaanite theory is based on several undeciphered inscriptions also discovered since at various Palestinian sites; the writings belong in part to c.
Despite the conflict in theories, scholars are generally agreed that, for about years before the middle of the 2nd millennium bce, alphabet making was in the air in the Syro-Palestinian region.
It is idle to speculate on the meaning of the various discoveries referred to. That they manifest closely related efforts is certain; what the exact relationship among these efforts was, and what their relationship with the North Semitic alphabet was, cannot be said with certainty.
It can, however, be ascertained that the period from to bce in SyriaPalestine, and Egypt, during which there was an uprooting of established cultural and ethnic patterns in the Fertile Crescentprovided conditions favourable to the conception of an alphabetic script, a kind of writing that would be more accessible to larger groups of people, in contrast to the scripts of the old states of Mesopotamia and Egypt, which were confined largely to the priestly class.
In default of other direct evidence, it is reasonable to suppose that the actual prototype of the alphabet was not very different from the writing of the earliest North Semitic inscriptions now extantwhich belong to the last two or three centuries of the 2nd millennium bce.
The North Semitic alphabet was so constant for many centuries that it is impossible to think that there had been any material changes in the preceding two to three centuries. Moreover, the North Semitic languages, based as they are on a consonantal root i.
The inventor or inventors of the alphabet were, no doubt, influenced by Egyptian writing—perhaps also by other scripts. Indeed, it is probable that those who invented the alphabet were acquainted with most of the scripts current in the eastern Mediterranean lands at the time.
It is now generally agreed that the originators belonged to the Northwest Semitic linguistic group, which includes the ancient Canaanites, Phoenicians, and Hebrews.
The North Semitic alphabet remained almost unaltered for many centuries. The Hebrew order of the letters seems to be the oldest. It includes the scratching of the first five letters of the early Hebrew alphabet in their conventional order, and it belongs to the 8th or 7th century bce.
Development and diffusion of alphabets At the end of the 2nd millennium bce, with the political decay of the great nations of the Bronze Age—the Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Hittites, and Cretans—a new historical world began. In Syria and Palestine, the geographical centre of the Fertile Crescent, three nations—Israel, Phoenicia, and Aram—played an increasingly important political role.
To the south of the Fertile Crescent, the Sabaeans, a South Arabian people also Semites, though South Semitesattained a position of wealth and importance as commercial intermediaries between the East and the Mediterranean.
To the west, seeds were sown among the peoples who later constituted the nation of Hellas—the Greeks. As a result, an alphabet developed with four main branches: The Canaanite and Aramaic branches constitute the North Semitic main branch.
The Canaanite alphabet The two Canaanite branches may be subdivided into several secondary branches. First, Early Hebrew had three secondary branches—Moabite, Edomite, and Ammonite—and two offshoots—the script of Jewish coins and the Samaritan script, still in use today for liturgical purposes only.
Out of the latter developed the Punic and neo-Punic scripts and probably also the Libyan and Iberian scripts. The term Early Hebrew is used to distinguish this branch from the later so-called Square Hebrew.
The Early Hebrew alphabet had already begun to acquire its distinctive character by the 11th century bce. It was used officially until the 6th century bce and lingered on for several centuries more.The earliest known examples of writing in any Turkic language were found in the Orkhon river valley in Mongolia in the 19th century.
They date from the early 8th century AD and the script in which they are written is known as the Orkhon alphabet, or the Old Turkic script, the Göktürk script, or.
Old English was written with a runic alphabet. Discover the history of Old English writing, and how it changed into modern English. Old English was written with a runic alphabet. Discover the history of Old English writing, and how it changed into modern English. It was roundabout this time that Cædmon (his name is pronounced roughly like.
Old Chinese, also called Archaic Chinese in older works, is the oldest attested stage of Chinese, and the ancestor of all modern varieties of Chinese. [a] The earliest examples of Chinese are divinatory inscriptions on oracle bones from around BC, in . Old English / Anglo-Saxon was first written with a version of the Runic alphabet known as Anglo-Saxon or Anglo-Frisian runes, or futhorc/fuþorc.
This alphabet was an extended version of Elder Futhark with between 26 and 33 letters. Old English Calligraphy Alphabet Find this Pin and more on Calligraphic Art by Mark Davis. Old English Lettering Alphabet Stencils - 2 Inch - 14 Mil Heavy-Duty Old English calligraphy, also referred to as blackletter script, means "beautiful writing," derived from the Greek words "calli" an.
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