The ‘missing link’ has been discovered in the history of the alphabet in Israel

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Archaeologists working in an ancient Bible city in Israel An important discovery was made in a clay fragment, which may have been the “missing link” in the history of the alphabet: an inscription, which appears to be the name of a person, was dated around 1450 BCE, one of the alphabetical writings Establishment of new origins The Levantine society of the Bronze Age.

A study published on Thursday (15) in the scientific journal is described ancient timeThe discovery took place in an ancient fortification in Israel’s Tel Lakish region, where the city of Lakish was located, in which, According to the Bible, Was destroyed by the Hebrews when they fled to Egypt and reached Canaan after spending 40 years in the desert.

According to the lead author of the research, the archaeologist at the Instituto Archeology Austrian Felix Hoflmaier, this inscription from the 15th century BCE is not only “the oldest inscription with a safe date south of the Levant”, a region in the Middle East, but it indicates a moment in the development of the alphabet It was not explained until then.

Origin of Alphabets, Egyptian and Sources of Levant (Source: Antiquity / Reproduction)Source: ancient time

How is the “missing link” of the alphabet?

By itself, the small object is nothing more than a four-centimeter-long sharp that should be part of the rim of an imported siprit bowl. Many of the letters appear written in black diagonal ink, which is inside the piece, while the outside shows a dark angular pattern.

For researchers, most of the characters in ceramics are the same. Egyptian hieroglyphs, Which have been around for hundreds of years. This similarity made it possible to partially identify the inscription, which could mean “slave”, after part of the name, which could be “nectar” or “honey”.

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According to research, the earliest evidence of early alphabetical writing was found among the Canaanites, who mined on the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, dating from 1982 BCE to around 1802 BCE, since then the writing spread to the Levant. Went to the eastern Mediterranean region of West Asia, from which it developed into the Greek and Latin alphabets.

Excavated areas P and S which are still under investigation in Tel Laksh (Source: Antiquities / Reproduction) Excavated areas P and S which are still under investigation in Tel Laksh (Source: Antiquities / Reproduction) Source: ancient time

Use of the alphabet by other cultures

Höflmayer explained the site Live science This spread of the primitive alphabet south of the Levant, which took place in the 14th or 13th century, was believed to be the result of Egyptian domination in the area at the time. But built with the technique of slice analysis, radiocarbon dating, Shown that the primitive alphabet was introduced before the arrival of the Egyptians.

Later, the Greeks also started using the alphabet system, followed by the Romans, who created Latin. Gradually, the use of an alphabet became common in many cultures. However, evidence was lacking between the introduction of the alphabet on the Sinai Peninsula and its arrival in the Levant, and this gap was filled with recently discovered inscriptions.

However, according to research to “deepen the understanding of the Middle and Late Bronze Age” using radio and carbon, initial excavations at the Tel Lakish site were carried out in the 1970s and 1980s, restarting them in 2017. I went. The “missing link” was found in 2018, first excavated in the area of ​​Selfa, in the center of Israel.

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About the author: Muhammad Wayne

Wayne is a reporter who covers everything from oil trading to China's biggest conglomerates and technology companies. Originally from Chicago, he is a graduate of New York University's business and economic reporting program.

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