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 language of the Achaemenid Empire in Persia from about 500 BC to 331 BC.
The careful reader will note that I used the same image for this post as I did for yesterday’s Phoenician script post; this is not an accident. Phoenician script and Aramaic script look practically identical at their beginning. In addition to the shapes of the letters diverging over time, Aramaic innovated (some) vowels.
Phoenician did not have signs for vowels, only consonants. Aramaic, however, pressed three of the Phoenician consonant symbols into double-duty as long vowels. Sometimes those characters would be consonants, sometimes they would be vowels. This technique is known as matres lectionis.