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Contributed by Mohammad Shadmani   
Monday, 23 July 2007
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III  THE EARLIEST ALPHABETS

Most scholars believe that the first known alphabet developed along the eastern Mediterranean coast between 1700 and 1500 bc. Because this alphabet has not survived, scholars must draw conclusions about it from surviving alphabets that developed from it. The people who developed this alphabet, which was known as North Semitic, seem to have had some knowledge of cuneiform and hieroglyphic symbols. Some of the alphabet’s symbols may also have been taken from related writing systems, such as those used by the Minoans and Hittites. The sounds represented in the North Semitic alphabet consisted exclusively of consonants. The reader had to supply the vowel sounds of a word. As in nearly all alphabets, the letters had names and a fixed order. Nearly all the alphabets now used in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa ultimately derive from the original Semitic alphabet.


 
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