Abstract and Keywords
The alphabet employed by the Phoenicians was the inheritor of a long tradition of alphabetic writing and was itself adapted for use throughout the Mediterranean basin by numerous populations speaking many languages. The present contribution traces the origins of the alphabet in Sinai and the Levant before discussing different alphabetic standardizations in Ugarit and Phoenician Tyre. The complex adaptation of the latter for representation of the Greek language is described in detail, then some brief attention is given to likely—Etruscan and other Italic alphabets—and possible (Iberian and Berber) descendants of the Phoenician alphabet. Finally, it is stressed that current research does not view the Phoenician and other alphabets as inherently simpler, more easily learned, or more democratic than other writing systems. The Phoenician alphabet remains, nevertheless, an impressive technological development worthy, especially by virtue of its generative power, of detailed study ranging from paleographic and orthographic specifications to social and political contextualization.
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