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Phoenician Alphabet, The First True Alphabet

Posted by Sofia Rina


Forum: General

Phoenician alphabet, the first true alphabet, the ultimate ancestor of most modern scripts like Greek, Latin, Hebrew and Arabic alphabets. It has 22 letters, all consonants (it's actually an abjad) and written from right-to-left horizontally.

The Phoenician alphabet is a direct descendant of the Proto-Sinaitic alphabet. Developed by the Phoenicians and thanks to their trade especially maritime trade, it spread across West Asia and Mediterranean, making it the most widely used alphabet at that time.

Maybe this is subjective but this alphabet has a big influence, especially two of its derivative variants, Greek and Aramaic. Its simplicity makes it easy to learn and widely adapted. It's the most well-known and valuable heritage of the Phoenicians, thanks to them.

The Greeks modified the Phoenician alphabet, especially by adding vowels, thus creating the Greek alphabet. The Etruscans modified the Greek alphabet (specifically the Euboean Greek alphabet) and creating Etruscan alphabet which is the direct ancestor of Latin alphabet.

The earliest inscriptions of this alphabet date from around the 12th or 11th century BCE. Many come from Byblos, Lebanon and Carthage. This was used to write Phoenician, Punic, Old Aramaic, Ammonite, Moabite, Edomite, Hebrew and Old Arabic. 

The use of the Phoenician alphabet proper (the original alphabet, not modified) began to disappear in the 1st century BCE especially after the destruction of Carthage. Derivatives of this alphabet elsewhere at that time were used by many languages.

In the photo I wrote the Phoenician alphabet on paper along with the names of the letters and their transcription. Sorry if the writing seems stiff. Again, thanks to Phoenicians for this.

Taken on Saturday, 24 February, 2024 at 02:37 with Samsung Galaxy A10s. 

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