Semitic Languages

Alphabet Detailed history..."In the 1990s, Dr. James Harris of BYU, along with Dann Hoane, succeeded in establishing the algorithm for the oldest alphabetical system yet discovered. The team brilliantly assigned sound values based on the pre-Thamudic (early Hebrew and Aramaic) dialects instead of sounds used in Arabic dialects. The results were dramatic."

"Sir William Flinders Petrie (1905) Up to the beginning of this century, the Mesha Stele (Moabite Stone, a royal inscription of a king of Moab named Mesha, ca. 850 BCE) was the earliest known alphabetic inscription. Speculation on the origin of West Semitic alphabets was based largely on the Bible, or traditional attempts to reconstruct the past.

A major breakthrough came with the decipherment of the word b'lt, (B'alat) by Sir Alan Gardiner in 1916. Gardiner concluded that the Sinaitic signs were created by reforming Egyptian Hieroglyphic signs based upon their acrophonic value. His reasoning has been found to be sound and his work continues to be the foundation upon which progress advances to the present. His early decipherment's are called the B'alat inscriptions

Proto-Sinaitic, Proto-Canaanite & Old Negev another detailed history.

Some General Characteristics of Old Negev that were not continued in Canaanite/Phoenician or in the pre-Arabic scripts of the Arabian Desert:

1. Sign Rotation; the orientation of a sign can signal the reader that, when in horizontal position, it represents an inseparable preposition or an article.

2. When in an upside down position it represents the end of a word or phrase.

3. When a letter is larger or smaller than the preceding letters it indicates the end of a word or phrase.

4. The numbers 2 & 3 above also indicate the direction of language flow.

5. All West Semitic alphabets (emerging after Proto-Canaanite) utilize the abstracted forms but Old Negev retains in use a very large number of archaic forms (i.e. Proto-Sinaitic and Proto-Canaanite forms).

6. Old Negev also retains an elaborate use of ligatures to create symbols that often complement or enhance the inscriptions. [This form of composition was especially useful when a population was a mix of literate persons and persons with varying levels of illiteracy.

3800 Year Old Alphabet Found On Six Continents "A journalist, while attempting to document some unusual and very old rock art in remote North America, has discovered an ancient alphabet. This alphabet is identical to ancient writing found in two other distant locations around the globe. The author's discovery is in Colorado and has been dated to 800 BCE. In the Negev desert of Israel, this writing has been dated to 1500 BCE. In southern Australia, the alphabet is estimated to be over 3800 years old.

"The language has been given the name "old Negev," after the location of the alphabet's initial discovery in the Sinai. In Australia it has been known for centuries by the name "Panaramitee," while in the Americas it has been misrepresented as Native American Indian sign language. The language and grammar are now understood to be proto-Canaanite and appear to have roots in common with Egyptian and Hebrew. The petroglyphs successfully translate to English using an old Hebrew dialect in all three locations.

Announcement of Discovery has a world map and photos.

Ancient Alphabet discovered An ancient alphabet has been found and successfully translated on six continents. Translations and grammar suggest a global human culture thrived in antiquity.

Colby Glass, MLIS