Alphabetic Responses to Western Semitic Writing

Conference Abstract

The significance and long-term consequences of the development of an alphabetic script for writing Greek need no emphasis. At present agendas for the study of this phenomenon tend to view questions of where, when, how and why it developed largely from a Greek perspective stressing Greek creative genius. Is this justified, or is Greek alphabetic writing one specific of a general response to a set of conditions prevailing across the Mediterranean during the Early Iron Age?

The conference addressed this issue by setting the development of Greek alphabetic writing into the wider context of the development of scripts for different languages to the east and west of the Aegean. It focused on questions of how writing was used, and the similarities and differences in this respect between the local scripts of Greek speakers and those of neighbouring non-Greek speakers.

The conference brought together scholars who study disciplines which, though closely related, are separated by geographical or administrative boundaries, and provided them with an opportunity for exchanging information and ideas, including recent developments in their fields. By doing so it is anticipated that the proceedings will contribute to discussions of why Greek alphabetic writing was introduced and followed the trajectory that it did. In addition, patterns of imitation, reaction and innovation revealed will contribute to wider questions of cultural inter-relationships during a highly formative phase in the history of the Mediterranean.

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