Monthly Archives: January 2011

Greek — 800 BC, Greece

Greek legend says that a Phoenician, Cadmus, brought writing to the Greeks.  This is not hard to believe, as the earliest Greek glyphs look very similar to Phoenician.  However, the Greek alphabet had something from the beginning that no other … Continue reading

Posted in Alphabet, previous script didn't quite work, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!" | 9 Comments

Aramaic — Syria, 900 BC

Aramaic script was a very important writing system.  While the Phoenician script spread westward via sea trading, Aramaic script spread eastward via land trading.   It was the major trade language along much of the Silk Road, and was the official … Continue reading

Posted in Abjad, Rating: 4 "Huh, interesting!" | 8 Comments

Phoenician — 1050 BC, Lebanon

Phoenician descended from Proto-Sinaitic and is the ancestor of the writing systems used by the vast majority of people today.  Greek, Latin, Aramaic, Arabic, and Hebrew are its children and grandchildren, with its influence spreading as far as the Pacific … Continue reading

Posted in Abjad, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!" | 8 Comments

Ugaritic — 1400 BC?, Syria

Have you ever wondered why the English alphabet is ordered “A, B, C…”?  Who decided that A should be first, then B, instead of e.g. S and then D?  Well, we don’t know who came up with that ordering, but … Continue reading

Posted in Abjad, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!" | 5 Comments

Cypriot — 1500 BC?, Greece

Try to find out when Cypriot script started, and the answer you get differs wildly depending upon the source. In part, this reflects differing opinions about whether they consider the writing system on early artifacts to be Cypriot or not.  … Continue reading

Posted in Rating: 5 "Whoa!!", Syllabaries | 2 Comments

Luwian hieroglyphics — 1400 BC, Turkey

Luwian hieroglyphics — also called Anatolian hieroglyphics or (incorrectly) Hittite hieroglyphics — do not seem to be stylistically related to any other language, so it is likely this writing system was invented by the Luwians, although they pretty certainly knew … Continue reading

Posted in Logograms, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!", Syllabaries | Leave a comment

Linear B — 1400BC?, Greece

Ancient Crete had not one but three writing systems at roughly the same time: the Cretan hieroglyphics, Linear A, and Linear B.  Linear A and the Cretan hieroglyphics have not been deciphered, but Linear B has. Linear B has about … Continue reading

Posted in Logograms, Rating: 3 "I did not know that", Syllabaries | 1 Comment

Cretan hieroglyphics — 1500 BC?, Greece

There is an artifact, a clay tablet called the Phaistos disc, that was found in Crete with unusual signs on it.  The signs have not been deciphered, but they look logographic in that each symbol is easy to recognize as … Continue reading

Posted in Rating: 5 "Whoa!!", Undeciphered | 3 Comments

Hittite — 1700 BC?, Turkey

In around 1700BC, the Hittites adapted Assyrian cuneiform (which was basically just Akkadian cuneiform which had been around long enough to evolve slightly) to their language.  They only took about half of the symbols from Assyrian cuneiform, of which roughly … Continue reading

Posted in Logograms, Rating: 2 "Not all that interesting", Syllabaries, technology influenced | 2 Comments

Byblos — 1800 BC, Lebanon

Byblos was a city in Phoenicia (now Ǧubayl, Lebanon) that has been inhabited since about 5000BC — perhaps is the oldest continuously-inhabited city in the world.  Byblos was a centre of publishing for a very very long time: the name … Continue reading

Posted in Rating: 4 "Huh, interesting!", Undeciphered | 1 Comment