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Origins of Writing Systems

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  • B.E.Colless
    I am interested to see that Peter Daniels is to present his latest insights on the origins of writing (see below: Smudges, cuneiforms, moon-spun vowels: A
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 1, 2007
      I am interested to see that Peter Daniels is to present his latest insights
      on the origins of writing (see below: "Smudges, cuneiforms, moon-spun
      vowels: A Unified View of the Diverse Origins of Writing").

      As I have mentioned here many a time and oft, I am working feverishly on the
      beginnings of the West Semitic syllabary and proto-alphabet, and publishing
      my findings on one of my websites.

      My most recent essay looks at Gordon Hamilton's book on the subject.





      Gordon J. Hamilton has theorized on the beginnings of the letters of the
      alphabet in *The Origins of the West Semitic Alphabet in Egyptian Scripts*
      (2006). He argues that all the letters of the alphabet derive from Egyptian

      What I do is to compare and contrast Hamilton's system (which is basically
      the faulty Albright table of proto-alphabetic signs, also accepted by
      Benjamin Sass in *The Genesis of the Alphabet* [1988]) with my own proposed
      paradigm (published in Abr-Nahrain / Ancient Near Eastern Studies
      [1988-1998], and often expounded in this ANE forum).

      For each letter we have possible verification or falsification for our
      suggestions, in six ostraca from Thebes (published by W.F. Petrie in 1912),
      the most important of which bears a copy of the proto-alphabet (the West
      Semitic consonantary), and I apply this evidence to the Hamilton thesis and
      likewise to the Colless system. In my view the Albright paradigm is
      shattered by this exercise.

      I have tried to facilitate the reader's task of considering my case, by
      including photographs and drawings all along the way.

      At the same time I am producing new interpretations of all the inscriptions,
      including eventually the Wadi el-Hol proto-Canaanite graffiti and the
      logo-syllabic texts from Gubla / Byblos and elsewhere. The side-bar index to
      Cryptcracker will guide you through those essays.

      I hope everyone can find time to give serious consideration to my findings.
      I may actually be suffering from a grand delusion, but I honestly think that
      we now have enough data at our disposal to decipher the West Semitic
      syllabic and consonantal inscriptions.


      Brian Colless
      Massey University, Palmerston North, Aotearoa/ New Zealand

      International Linguistic Association
      The Second Lecture of the Fall 2007 Semester
      Saturday, November 10, 2007 at 11 am

      "Smudges, cuneiforms, moon-spun vowels": A Unified View of the
      Diverse Origins of Writing

      Linguists recognize that all languages, however different they seem to
      be, share a basic unity. Why, then, do they not recognize the same
      thing about writing systems? Peter T. Daniels, independent scholar
      with degrees in linguistics from Cornell University and the University
      of Chicago, will talk about the Origins of Writing drawing upon his
      interests in Semitic historical linguistics and the history of
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