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Very rare, a burned ivory panel from depicting the "Lady at the Window" theme. Excavated by the…
Nimrud  Phoenician  from twitter_favs
may 2019 by dyma
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*kalb ‘dog’:


kalbu 𒌨


kalbu 𐎋𐎍𐎁


klb 𐤊𐤋𐤁


keleḇ כֶּלֶב


k…
Ugaritic  Syriac  Akkadian  Hebrew  Semitic  Phoenician  from twitter_favs
april 2019 by nour
The origins of abc
Where does our alphabet come from?
We see it every day on signs, billboards, packaging, in books and magazines; in fact, you are looking at it now — the Latin or Roman alphabet, the world’s most prolific, most widespread abc. Typography is a relatively recent invention, but to unearth the origins of alphabets, we will need to travel much farther back in time, to an era contemporaneous with the emergence of (agricultural) civilisation itself.

Robert Bringhurst wrote that writing is the solid form of language, the precipitate.[1] But writing is also much more than that, and its origins, its evolution, and the way it is now woven into the fabric of civilisations makes it a truly wonderful story. That story spans some 5,000 years. We’ll travel vast distances, meet an emperor, a clever Yorkshireman, a Phoenician princess by the name of Jezebel, and the ‘purple people’; we’ll march across deserts and fertile plains, and sail across oceans. We will begin where civilisation began, meander through the Middle Ages, race through the Renaissance, and in doing so discover where our alphabet originated, how and why it evolved, and why, for example, an A looks, well, like an A.
SUMERCuneiform
The Sumerians began to experiment with writing at the close of the fourth millennium BC, in Mesopotamia between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates (roughly modern-day Iraq). Like most writing systems, Cuneiform, initially scratched — later impressed by a stylus — into soft clay, started out as a series of pictograms — pictures representing words. The word for bird, for example, existed at first as a simple pictorial representation of a bird. The figure below demonstrates this process of abstraction or rationalization. In time, the pictures of things came to represent, not only things but, sounds. It is clear that a written language with signs that represent sounds requires fewer characters than a language in which a sign stands for a thing or an idea. We use 26 letters (and the Romans used only 23 to create some of the most outstanding literature the world has ever known) while the Chinese, for example, have to learn thousands of characters to express themselves. Even early cuneiform comprised some 1,500 pictograms. A language in which a picture or grapheme represents a thing or an idea has its advantages: people may speak any language while the written form stays the same. So a Chinese from the Southern provinces can speak a totally different dialect than his compatriot in Beijing, who would not understand him when he speaks, but can read what he writes.

1.1 The pictographic origin of Cuneiform.
Figure 1.2 is an example of Proto-Cuneiform, one of the earliest examples of writing know to us. It’s a form of Cuneiform that exists between the earliest purely pictographic forms and the later more abstract forms. Moreover, as there was no fixed or standard writing direction, the signs were often rotated to conform to the direction of writing employed — a bird is still a bird through 360 degrees of rotation.

1.2 Proto-Cuneiform. Subject: beer rations.
While the Sumerian language ceased to be spoken after about 2000 BC, the influence of its written form (Cuneiform) is still felt today. The Sumerian language was mostly replaced by the language of their Akkadian conquerors who did, however, adopt the Cuneiform signs of the Sumerians. This form of writing was used until the 5th century AD. Figure 1.3, shows the Cyrus Cylinder, recounts the fall of Babylon in 539 BC (Daniel 5 in the Old Testament) to the Persians led by king Cyrus.

1.3 Cyrus Cylinder (Akkadian cuneiform), 6th century BC. On display: Room 55, British Museum. © Trustees of the British Museum
EGYPTThe writing of the gods
The Egyptians developed a similar system of pictograms, one many of us are familiar with. Hieroglyphic inscriptions (literally sacred carving), like Cuneiform started out as pictograms, but later those same pictures were also used to represent speech sounds. Looking at the different forms of Egyptian hieroglyphs we can better understand how those pictures of things representing words became more and more abstract. While you might be familiar with the form of Egyptian hieroglyphs carved into stone (lapidary inscriptions), they do, however, come in several forms or styles — all influenced by the medium upon which they are written, the purpose for which they are written, and their intended audience.

2.1 Egyptian hieroglyphs.
The Egyptian pictographs evolved into a cursive style called hieratic that was freer, written more rapidly and contained numerous ligatures.

2.2 Hieratic script, 12th Dynasty.
A yet later form is demotic, which represents the most abstract form of Egyptian hieroglyphs. Although written mostly in ink on papyrus, the most famous example is to be found on the granite Rosetta Stone. The Rosetta Stone (196 BC), found by scholars who had travelled to Egypt with Napoleon in 1799, is important because it was the key to deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. It is written in two languages, and three scripts: two forms of Egyptian (hieroglyphic & demotic), with a Greek translation.

2.3 Demotic script, 3rd century BC.
The story of the alphabet continues in Egypt during the second millennium BC, but the Egyptians are not its authors.
THE FIRST ALPHABETSWadi el-Hol
Until the discovery of two inscriptions (graffiti) in Wadi el-Hol, Egypt, in 1999, it was generally held that the beginnings of alphabetic scripts could be traced to around 1600 to 1500 BC, to the Phoenicians, a people of traders who lived on the coast of today’s Lebanon and Israel. However, the 1999 discovery reveals that, rather than the early Semitic alphabet being developed in their homeland of Syria-Palestine, it was instead developed by the Semitic-speaking people then living in Egypt. This strengthens the hypothesis there must have been ties between Egyptian scripts and their influence on those early Semitic or proto-Sinaitic alphabets. Moreover, it pushes back the origin of the alphabet to between 1900 and 1800 BC.
In the photograph of Inscription 1 from Wadi el-Hol below, the sign highlighted in red (hover over to see) is of an Ox head (ʼaleph) — the origins of the Latin A, and a letter with a long history — early Sumerian cuneiform also uses the Ox as a sign.

3.1 Inscription 1 from Wadi el-Hol. Written right to left. Hover over the image to see outlines and highlights.
By about 1600 BC in the region between the two dominant writing systems of the time, Cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphs, we see the emergence of other more systematised alphabets like ugaritic script (14th century BC) that developed in what is today Syria. The ugaritic script employs 30 simplified cuneiform signs. And thus begins the story of the alphabet.

3.2 Abecedary from Ugarit.
PROTO SINAITICAt the same time as the short-lived ugaritic script was being developed (an alphabet adapted from Cuneiform), another alphabetic system emerged that was influenced by Egyptian hieroglyphs. This proto-Sinaitic alphabet of consonants was pictographic, yet each pictograph represents a sound rather than a thing or idea. It is this proto-Sinaitic alphabet that really marks the starting point, the root of numerous modern-day alphabets, from Arabic and Hebrew to Greek and Latin.

4.1 Proto Sinaitic script, c. 1500 BC.
Note the difference between the signs of Inscription 1 from Wadi el-Hol (figure 3.1), and those of the proto-Sinaitic script (figure 4.1). The latter are just a little more abstract. Note especially A (aleph), which has a simplified ductus (fewer strokes). Note too the simplified stick figure, representing a person at prayer. Cut off the torso and the head, rotate what’s left, and you will see in it the origins of the Latin E:

4.2 The evolution of E (see also figure 4.1 above).
But how and why did this alphabet of pictographs evolve into a series of abstract symbols? Mark-Alain Ouaknin, in Mysteries of the Alphabet suggests that the answer is to be found in the transition from polytheism to monotheism:
The second of the Ten Commandments states: ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in the heavens above or that is in the earth beneath…’ This prohibition on the image forced the Semites, who still wrote their language in a pictographic writing, to rid themselves of images.
I’m not convinced. Both Sumerian Cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphs evolved from pictographs into more abstract signs. Both civilisations remained polytheistic throughout those transitions. Therefore, Monotheism and the prohibition on graven images cannot, I think, be responsible for the evolution of the proto-Sinaitic pictographic alphabet into proto-Hebraic and proto-Phoenician (or proto-Canaanite). Perhaps, in fact, the reverse is true: that the use of abstract letters may have induced the idea of an abstract God who forbade graven images — but permitted their representation as abstract signs.
THE PHOENICIANSThe Purple People
Jezebel, of Old Testament infamy (1 Kings) was a Phoenician princess.
While the invention of writing itself could never have progressed without a highly structured and even authoritarian state to back it up, the coming of the modern alphabet is a completely different story. Written in Cuneiform we have the wonderful adventures of Gilgamesh and his companion Enkidu, but most of the clay-tablets from the agricultural city-states are more mundane: lists, taxation, and commercial transactions.

6.1 Phoenician inscription, late 11th century BC.
The Phoenician alphabet was probably developed for quick and easy to read notes that a merchant would make on his trips along the ports of the Mediterranean. The Phoenicians are now best-known for their terrible god Baal, to whom children were sacrificed in an enormous cast iron stove. But this story is a 19th century invention, as is the sensual image of the Phoenicians in Flaubert’s Salammbô. The Phoenicians were traders who created a loose empire of… [more]
typography  alphabet  Carolingian  cuneiform  Gothic  Hieroglyphs  latin  minuscule  Phoenician  roman  Textualis  type_history  from google
august 2010 by borrodell
The origins of abc
Where does our alphabet come from?
We see it every day on signs, billboards, packaging, in books and magazines; in fact, you are looking at it now — the Latin or Roman alphabet, the world’s most prolific, most widespread abc. Typography is a relatively recent invention, but to unearth the origins of alphabets, we will need to travel much farther back in time, to an era contemporaneous with the emergence of (agricultural) civilisation itself.

Robert Bringhurst wrote that writing is the solid form of language, the precipitate.[1] But writing is also much more than that, and its origins, its evolution, and the way it is now woven into the fabric of civilisations makes it a truly wonderful story. That story spans some 5,000 years. We’ll travel vast distances, meet an emperor, a clever Yorkshireman, a Phoenician princess by the name of Jezebel, and the ‘purple people’; we’ll march across deserts and fertile plains, and sail across oceans. We will begin where civilisation began, meander through the Middle Ages, race through the Renaissance, and in doing so discover where our alphabet originated, how and why it evolved, and why, for example, an A looks, well, like an A.
SUMERCuneiform
The Sumerians began to experiment with writing at the close of the fourth millennium BC, in Mesopotamia between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates (roughly modern-day Iraq). Like most writing systems, Cuneiform, initially scratched — later impressed by a stylus — into soft clay, started out as a series of pictograms — pictures representing words. The word for bird, for example, existed at first as a simple pictorial representation of a bird. The figure below demonstrates this process of abstraction or rationalization. In time, the pictures of things came to represent, not only things but, sounds. It is clear that a written language with signs that represent sounds requires fewer characters than a language in which a sign stands for a thing or an idea. We use 26 letters (and the Romans used only 23 to create some of the most outstanding literature the world has ever known) while the Chinese, for example, have to learn thousands of characters to express themselves. Even early cuneiform comprised some 1,500 pictograms. A language in which a picture or grapheme represents a thing or an idea has its advantages: people may speak any language while the written form stays the same. So a Chinese from the Southern provinces can speak a totally different dialect than his compatriot in Beijing, who would not understand him when he speaks, but can read what he writes.

1.1 The pictographic origin of Cuneiform.
Figure 1.2 is an example of Proto-Cuneiform, one of the earliest examples of writing know to us. It’s a form of Cuneiform that exists between the earliest purely pictographic forms and the later more abstract forms. Moreover, as there was no fixed or standard writing direction, the signs were often rotated to conform to the direction of writing employed — a bird is still a bird through 360 degrees of rotation.

1.2 Proto-Cuneiform. Subject: beer rations.
While the Sumerian language ceased to be spoken after about 2000 BC, the influence of its written form (Cuneiform) is still felt today. The Sumerian language was mostly replaced by the language of their Akkadian conquerors who did, however, adopt the Cuneiform signs of the Sumerians. This form of writing was used until the 5th century AD. Figure 1.3, shows the Cyrus Cylinder, recounts the fall of Babylon in 539 BC (Daniel 5 in the Old Testament) to the Persians led by king Cyrus.

1.3 Cyrus Cylinder (Akkadian cuneiform), 6th century BC. On display: Room 55, British Museum. © Trustees of the British Museum
EGYPTThe writing of the gods
The Egyptians developed a similar system of pictograms, one many of us are familiar with. Hieroglyphic inscriptions (literally sacred carving), like Cuneiform started out as pictograms, but later those same pictures were also used to represent speech sounds. Looking at the different forms of Egyptian hieroglyphs we can better understand how those pictures of things representing words became more and more abstract. While you might be familiar with the form of Egyptian hieroglyphs carved into stone (lapidary inscriptions), they do, however, come in several forms or styles — all influenced by the medium upon which they are written, the purpose for which they are written, and their intended audience.

2.1 Egyptian hieroglyphs.
The Egyptian pictographs evolved into a cursive style called hieratic that was freer, written more rapidly and contained numerous ligatures.

2.2 Hieratic script, 12th Dynasty.
A yet later form is demotic, which represents the most abstract form of Egyptian hieroglyphs. Although written mostly in ink on papyrus, the most famous example is to be found on the granite Rosetta Stone. The Rosetta Stone (196 BC), found by scholars who had travelled to Egypt with Napoleon in 1799, is important because it was the key to deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. It is written in two languages, and three scripts: two forms of Egyptian (hieroglyphic & demotic), with a Greek translation.

2.3 Demotic script, 3rd century BC.
The story of the alphabet continues in Egypt during the second millennium BC, but the Egyptians are not its authors.
THE FIRST ALPHABETSWadi el-Hol
Until the discovery of two inscriptions (graffiti) in Wadi el-Hol, Egypt, in 1999, it was generally held that the beginnings of alphabetic scripts could be traced to around 1600 to 1500 BC, to the Phoenicians, a people of traders who lived on the coast of today’s Lebanon and Israel. However, the 1999 discovery reveals that, rather than the early Semitic alphabet being developed in their homeland of Syria-Palestine, it was instead developed by the Semitic-speaking people then living in Egypt. This strengthens the hypothesis there must have been ties between Egyptian scripts and their influence on those early Semitic or proto-Sinaitic alphabets. Moreover, it pushes back the origin of the alphabet to between 1900 and 1800 BC.
In the photograph of Inscription 1 from Wadi el-Hol below, the sign highlighted in red (hover over to see) is of an Ox head (ʼaleph) — the origins of the Latin A, and a letter with a long history — early Sumerian cuneiform also uses the Ox as a sign.

3.1 Inscription 1 from Wadi el-Hol. Written right to left. Hover over the image to see outlines and highlights.
By about 1600 BC in the region between the two dominant writing systems of the time, Cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphs, we see the emergence of other more systematised alphabets like ugaritic script (14th century BC) that developed in what is today Syria. The ugaritic script employs 30 simplified cuneiform signs. And thus begins the story of the alphabet.

3.2 Abecedary from Ugarit.
PROTO SINAITICAt the same time as the short-lived ugaritic script was being developed (an alphabet adapted from Cuneiform), another alphabetic system emerged that was influenced by Egyptian hieroglyphs. This proto-Sinaitic alphabet of consonants was pictographic, yet each pictograph represents a sound rather than a thing or idea. It is this proto-Sinaitic alphabet that really marks the starting point, the root of numerous modern-day alphabets, from Arabic and Hebrew to Greek and Latin.

4.1 Proto Sinaitic script, c. 1500 BC.
Note the difference between the signs of Inscription 1 from Wadi el-Hol (figure 3.1), and those of the proto-Sinaitic script (figure 4.1). The latter are just a little more abstract. Note especially A (aleph), which has a simplified ductus (fewer strokes). Note too the simplified stick figure, representing a person at prayer. Cut off the torso and the head, rotate what’s left, and you will see in it the origins of the Latin E:

4.2 The evolution of E (see also figure 4.1 above).
But how and why did this alphabet of pictographs evolve into a series of abstract symbols? Mark-Alain Ouaknin, in Mysteries of the Alphabet suggests that the answer is to be found in the transition from polytheism to monotheism:
The second of the Ten Commandments states: ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in the heavens above or that is in the earth beneath…’ This prohibition on the image forced the Semites, who still wrote their language in a pictographic writing, to rid themselves of images.
I’m not convinced. Both Sumerian Cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphs evolved from pictographs into more abstract signs. Both civilisations remained polytheistic throughout those transitions. Therefore, Monotheism and the prohibition on graven images cannot, I think, be responsible for the evolution of the proto-Sinaitic pictographic alphabet into proto-Hebraic and proto-Phoenician (or proto-Canaanite). Perhaps, in fact, the reverse is true: that the use of abstract letters may have induced the idea of an abstract God who forbade graven images — but permitted their representation as abstract signs.
THE PHOENICIANSThe Purple People
Jezebel, of Old Testament infamy (1 Kings) was a Phoenician princess.
While the invention of writing itself could never have progressed without a highly structured and even authoritarian state to back it up, the coming of the modern alphabet is a completely different story. Written in Cuneiform we have the wonderful adventures of Gilgamesh and his companion Enkidu, but most of the clay-tablets from the agricultural city-states are more mundane: lists, taxation, and commercial transactions.

6.1 Phoenician inscription, late 11th century BC.
The Phoenician alphabet was probably developed for quick and easy to read notes that a merchant would make on his trips along the ports of the Mediterranean. The Phoenicians are now best-known for their terrible god Baal, to whom children were sacrificed in an enormous cast iron stove. But this story is a 19th century invention, as is the sensual image of the Phoenicians in Flaubert’s Salammbô. The Phoenicians were traders who created a loose empire of… [more]
typography  alphabet  Carolingian  cuneiform  Gothic  Hieroglyphs  latin  minuscule  Phoenician  roman  Textualis  type_history  from google
august 2010 by clord
Encyclopedia Phoeniciana
Warning: site seems to have some personal bias against Greek, Latin and Hebrew cultures and scholars of these areas.
classics  phoenician  map  culture 
february 2007 by yeri
Table of the Phoenician Alphabet
Signs, names, meaning, modern equivalents, and history of the Phoenician alphabet.
alphabet  phoenician 
november 2006 by spl

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