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Thread: Early alphabetic writing in the ancient Near East: the ‘missing link’ from …

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    Early alphabetic writing in the ancient Near East: the ‘missing link’ from …

    An interesting find:

    Early alphabetic writing in the ancient Near East: the ‘missing link’ from Tel Lachish
    Published online by Cambridge University Press: 15 April 2021


    The origin of alphabetic script lies in second-millennium BC Bronze Age Levantine societies. A chronological gap, however, divides the earliest evidence from the Sinai and Egypt—dated to the nineteenth century BC—and from the thirteenth-century BC corpus in Palestine. Here, the authors report a newly discovered Late Bronze Age alphabetic inscription from Tel Lachish, Israel. Dating to the fifteenth century BC, this inscription is currently the oldest securely dated alphabetic inscription from the Southern Levant, and may therefore be regarded as the ‘missing link’. The proliferation of early alphabetic writing in the Southern Levant should be considered a product of Levantine-Egyptian interaction during the mid second millennium BC, rather than of later Egyptian domination.


    It is often assumed that early alphabetic writing was developed by members of a Semitic-speaking, Western Asiatic population (‘Canaanites’) who were involved in Egyptian mining operations around Serabit el-Khadim in the Sinai Peninsula (Sass 1988; Goldwasser 2006; Naʾaman 2020). Later, this early alphabet would spread to the Southern Levant, where it was transformed into the Phoenician alphabet, from which the Greek alphabet subsequently derived (Albright 1969; Naveh 1987; Sass 1988; Goldwasser 2006; Hamilton 2006, 2014; Morenz 2011; Daniels 2017; Burlingame 2019; Naʾaman 2020). This interpretation builds upon the discovery of a number of early alphabetic inscriptions that were discovered in Sinai from the early twentieth century AD onwards (Petrie 1906; Leibovitch 1934), at and around the temple of Hathor at Serabit el-Khadim (Figure 1). In an influential article, Alan Gardiner demonstrated that these inscriptions were examples of early alphabetic writing derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs (Gardiner 1916; see also Gardiner 1962) …


    The Daily Mail also has an article here:
    Last edited by JMcB; 04-15-2021 at 09:16 PM.
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