Venetic — 690 BC, Italy

Venetic "a"

Venetic was an Indo-European language related to Latin, spoken on the Italian peninsula in the vicinity of what became Venice.  Venetic was one of several scripts in what is now Italy, representing quite a few languages: Latin, Etruscan, Venetic, Faliscan in a small area smack in the middle,Umbrian in the central part of Italy, South Picene on the central Adriatic, Oscan in southern Italy, Nuceria in southern Italy, Lugano in northern Italy/southern Switzerland, Raetic in northeastern Italy, and Camunic in northwestern Italy.  The scripts were very similar, but not identical, and derived from a western dialect of the Greek script, occasionally going through Etruscan first.

While Venetic did not use interword separator marks, Oscan used interpuncts to separate words and Umbrian used double dots (“:”).  Some languages were written right-to-left, some left-to-right, some boustrophedonically.  It seems like they didn’t care all that much which direction to go.

How could so many writing systems exist in such a small (to Canadians) place?  Two factors: the population density was much lower and most people didn’t travel much.  Traders went all over, colonizers went all over, soldiers went all over, but ordinary folks didn’t go very far.  Not only were ordinary folks limited to walking speed, but they also were limited by how much food they could bring with them (no grocery stores along the way!), and — with limited literacy and expensive or heavy writing materials — no maps and no guidebooks.  If you wanted to travel, you needed to go with someone who knew the way.

All of the Italic scripts we know of (not just Etruscan and Latin and Venetic) started being written around 600-400 BC.  Venetic and all the other non-Latin scripts died out under the Roman cultural dominance by around 100-200 AD.

Links: Ancient Scripts, Adolfo Zavronim (in Italian), Wikipedia

About ducky

I'm a computer programmer professionally, currently working on mapping applications. I have been interested non-professionally for a long time in the effect on society on advances in communications technology -- things like writing, vowels, spaces between words, paper, etc.
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