... We are now admitting that the Greek vocalic-consonantal script was the earliest alphabet? Why not? The West Semitic consonantary of the Iron Age (trust me,Message 1 of 52 , Apr 25, 2009View SourceOn 26/04/2009, at 4:36 AM, Peter T. Daniels wrote:
>We are now admitting that the Greek vocalic-consonantal script was the
> > No one "invented" the vowels -- they entered Greek writing by
> accident, because the five Phoenician consnants ', h, w, H, ` did
> not exist in Greek, so when a Greek trying to learn the Phoenician
> script heard the letter names, he would hear not those consonants,
> but the vowel that followed.>
> My response: The accident theory seems plausible, but it needs more
> than one sentence to establish it.
Why not? The West Semitic consonantary of the Iron Age (trust me, it
was a logo-consonantary in the Bronze Age) was adapted for writing
Hellenic dialects. (They had lost the use of logo-syllabaries in
Greece and Crete, though Cyprus continued this tradition with a simple
syllabary adapted from the Cretan Linear A logo-syllabic script.)
So, the 'B script (the 'BGD, formerly the 'BGH_D, or the HLH.M system)
became the Alpha-Beta script, the alphabet. (Unfortunately, an Oxford
Dictionary definition extends this word to any writing system used for
a particular language. )
I don't think the term abjad fills the bill: (1) it has vowels in it;
(2) no indication of the glottal stop'; (3) I am glad to see j used
for dy and not for y, but the proto-alphabet came out of the Egyptian
logo-consonantary, and we Egyptians say g not j for G. Abugida is
good, but can it be applied to the Aegean syllabary, or is it only
applicable to Ethiopic and Sanskrit writing? )
< ', h, w, H, ` >
and y (Yad > Yod > Iota)?
Waw > Upsilon (Why?)
'Alep gave A (Alpha)
He > E (Epsilon)
H.et > H (Eta)
`AYIN produced O (Omikron) . Was this because the a was way back in
the throat with the consonant `ayin? It has been noted that eye-words
(op- and ok-, a case of k/p we were looking for recently?) begin with
o, and this may have been a factor.
Omega is simply OO, presumably (cp VV > W), but the typical Omega
sign is very early.
However, Waw does not say u (but it is certainly labial, and looking
at Barry Powell's tables of Phn > Gk, he has an original Wau, so-
called digamma, as also the source of Upsilon).
And I cannot quite hear the vowel i in Yod (but they called it Iôta,
If we are not allowed to hearken to Woodard's Cyprus connection (where
they knew about vowels in syllabaries, see Graham Hagens below), can
we suppose a knowledge of the Aramaic partly vocalic consonantary (W
and Y as matres lectionis for u and i)
> PTD: If an alphabet was devised on Cyprus, why wasn't it used there?Fair question.
> Why did the syllabary persist?
Mainland Greece is where the alphabet first appears, in our present
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> Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...
> From: Graham Hagens <rgrahamh@...>
> To: ANEemail@example.com
> Sent: Saturday, April 25, 2009 10:01:24 AM
> Subject: [ANE-2] Re: Earliest alphabet
> -- In ANE-2@yahoogroups. com, "Peter T. Daniels" <grammatim@. ..>
> wrote :
> > Then how have Iranian languages gotten along quite nicely with
> consonantal scripts for about 2,000 years now?
> > I've been crusading against this fallacy for a couple of decades
> > --
> > Peter T. Daniels grammatim@.. .
> Is it possible to argue that the evidence that Iranian languages get
> along quite nicely without vowels (which reveals that vowels are a
> convenience not a necessity), lends support to Roger Woodard's
> thesis about the Cypriote contribution to the Greek alphabet?
> (Greek Writing from Knossos to Homer, 1997).
> He argued that Cypro-Greek- Phoenician traders of the 9th-8th
> centuries familiar with both the Phoenician script and the Cypriote
> syllabary, adopted the concept of using the five vowels present in
> that syllabary - although the actual symbols were changed.
> Since Indo-European languages can cope without vowels, why would
> anyone have gone to the trouble of inventing them? But once
> introduced, why would anyone not use them when creating the first
> (If he made that argument I didn't catch it).
David, This is a useful addition to the discussion. One might have expected Crete to have been the intermediary island for transmission to Greece. The bowlMessage 52 of 52 , May 8, 2009View SourceDavid,
This is a useful addition to the discussion.
One might have expected Crete to have been the intermediary island for
transmission to Greece. The bowl (ks) fromTekke (near Knossos) has a
Phoenician ('Proto-Canaanite' script) inscription (C9 tomb; difficult
to date precisely). It is similar to the Kefar Veradim bowl from a
contemporary tomb (north of Akko). (What strikes me about the two
vessels is that both have the name ShM`.)
The Phoenicians are said to have arrived in Cyprus in C8 BCE (see
below), to live alongside the Myceneans ( I suspect they were the
true Minoans who ruled from Crete).
May I add that I have a special interest in the Cyprian scripts, and
my ideas are being presented gradually at:
<Cyprus scripts> has tables of syllabograms, showing how the signs
developed from Cretan Linear A through to the Iron Age syllabary that
was replaced by the Greek alphabet.
<Cyprian Name List> These assigned values enable us to find Semitic
and Hurrian names in a list from Ugarit.
<Cyprian weight> TEKELO = ThQL/ShQL (shekel)
<Enkomi cylinder> with a name SARIZETI and the sequence MALIKI (king?)
So there was a Canaanite (Proto-Phoenician!) presence in Cyprus in the
Bronze Age, as also in Crete (Cyrus Gordon, Jan Best, and others).
Massey U, NZ
On 7/05/2009, at 12:21 PM, David Chibo wrote:
> > He suggests that the reason the alphabet is so meagerly attested
> in Cyprus prior to the Hellenistic era should be attributed to the
> pervasive conservatism of Cypriote Greek culture.
> > He then expands on the Mycenaean roots of Dark Age Cyprus Greece,
> and the conservative creativity which resulted from the isolation
> experienced of that island.
> > And notes that what he calls the 'Mycenaean civilization in exile'
> was the only part of the Greek world where literacy was preserved.
> > However he then writes: "It was Cypriot Greek scribes, trained in
> the profession of writing, aware of their orthographic surroundings,
> and perceptive of the advantage of the alphabetic script who adopted
> the Phoenician writing system who adapted the Phoenician writing
> system and created the Greek alphabet ... Knowledge of Linear B had
> long disappeared from the collective memory ...the Cypriot Syllabary
> had become the script of the Mycenaean tradition of Cyprus" (p.224)
> and "Who would be more likely to investigate new writing systems
> than professional scribes?" (p.230)
> > Well, we all know about cognititive dissonance: the common
> observation that the more one has paid for a painting, the less one
> is willing to believe it is a fake.
> > One could equally argue that the Greek-Cypriotes who were
> justifiably proud of their creativity during that dark period (one
> during which their inventiveness which may also have resulted in the
> discovery of carburized steel), would fervently defend their
> Syllabary as a heritage to be kept alive as long as possible.
> What Woodard unfortunately leaves out is that Cyprus saw the arrival
> of Phoenician colonists to Cyprus, about 800 B.C. who settled in
> several areas and shared political control with the Greeks until the
> arrival of the Assyrians. Cyprus then became an Assyrian colony from
> 709 B.C. under Sargon II of Assyria, until 663 B.C. Seven Cypriot
> kings had paid him homage; subsequent Assyrian documents speak of 11
> tributary kingdoms, the seven (Curium, Paphos, Marion, Soli,
> Lapithos, Salamis, and Amathus) plus Kitium, Kyrenia, Tamassos, and
> Idalium. During the Assyrian dominance the number of city-kingdoms
> increased to ten, one of which was Phoenician.
> The copper ores of Cyprus made the island an essential node in the
> earliest trade networks, and Cyprus was a source of the
> orientalizing cultural traits of mainland Greece at the end of the
> Greek Dark Ages, hypothesized by Walter Burkert (Orientalizing
> Revolution 1992:5) who states, "The Assyrian expansion to the
> Mediterranean together with the spread of trade in metal ores in the
> whole area provides a persuasive historical framework for the
> movement of eastern craftsmen to the West, as well as for the spread
> of the Phoenician-Greek alphabet."
> Burkert continues (Orientalizing Revolution 1992:27), "There is much
> to substantiate the idea that Cyprus had a role to play as an
> intermediary station in the transmission of writing: The distinctive
> designation of the Greek letters as Phoinikeia seems to presuppose
> that other "scribblings" (grammata) were known from which the
> Phoenician were different. This was the case only on Cyprus, where a
> linear script of Mycenaen type had been adapted to the Greek and
> persisted to Hellenistic times; the first document now known for its
> use in writing Greek dates from the eleventh century.
> Burkert (Orientalizing Revolution 1992:27) continues, "�the argument
> employed with great success at one time, that the great differences
> which appear from the start among local Greek alphabets presupposes
> a 'long development' stretching over many decades, if not centuries,
> has been firmly refuted by Lilian Jeffery. The so-called
> development, or rather the process of transmission, including some
> errors in copying, idiosyncrasies of 'hands,' and some intentional
> additions did happen extremely fast, within a few decades, if not
> years, reaching even the Phrygians in one direction and the
> Etruscans in the other near simultaneously."
> Burkert (Orientalizing Revolution 1992:28) goes even further when he
> states, "In the increasing quantity of Greek geometric ceramics
> which can be classified and dated with a reasonable degree of
> precision, not a single scribbling has so far been discovered that
> looks like a Greek letter before, say, 770 BC, while in the decades
> from 750 to about 700 there are now dozens and dozens of documents.
> A cultural explosion has happened here; there is nothing to suggest
> that the Greek alphabet had been in hiding for centuries before that
> date. Thus the existence of Greek script in the tenth and even in
> the ninth century appears, from the state of things, to be virtually
> Burkert (Orientalizing Revolution 1992:29) explains, "Thus it is
> clear that the adoption of the Phoenician script by the Greeks was
> more than the copying of letter forms; it included the transmission
> of the technique of teaching and learning how to read and write."
> Futhermore (Orientalizing Revolution 1992:34), "In any event, the
> fashionable claim that the Greeks adopted only the alphabet from so-
> called Phoenicians and created all the further achievements of their
> written culture on their own should be approached with caution.
> Writing tablets and leather scrolls at the very least came with the
> script and moulded the techniques and concept of the book. There was
> no tabula rasa. So much of Semitic written culture has been
> completely lost that general probability would suggest that rather
> there were far more numerous, richer, and denser connections than
> can be demonstrated by the meagre remains available."
> So the Greek aquisition of writing neatly co-incides with the same
> period that Cyprus was first settled by the Phoencicans and then
> subsequently conquered by the Assyrians.
> The cultural borrowing that had gradually seeped out of the Middle
> East, to the West, from the Hittites, Egyptians and Mesopotamians
> before this period may have turned into a flood with Cyprus acting
> as a cultural superhighway.
> David Chibo
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