Alphabetic Responses to Western Semitic Writing


(In Order of Presentation)

POWELL, Barry (Wisconsin-Madison)
History and Principles in the Study of Writing: Questions, Problems and Agendas
I will review problems in the terminology used to describe issues in the history of writing, explaining how a confusion of categories obscures our understanding. I will use examples from proto-Cuneiform, Egyptian hieroglyphic and the Aegean syllabaries to illustrate this and help to refine and clarify our thinking. In particular, I hope to make plain what we mean by "alphabetic writing" and how we are to describe its origins.

HACKETT, Jo Ann (Harvard)
The Early West Semitic Alphabet(s): Old Canaanite, Phoenician, Hebrew, and Philistine

MILLARD, Alan (Liverpool)
As the Aramaeans settled across Syria, they adopted the Phoenician alphabet. Extant inscriptions date from the mid-ninth century B.C. onwards and are divided into five categories for the purpose of this paper: monumental, formal, clerical, literary and occasional, limited to the pre-Persian period. After a survey of the type and attention to the evidence for much writing on perishable materials, a conclusion is drawn about the range and uses of writing in Aramaic. The paper ends with brief comments on the suggested Aramaic origin for the Greek alphabet.

Heiroglyphic Hittite

BAZEMORE, Bonny (South Carolina)
Cypriote Syllabic Evidence Pertaining to the Discussions of the Greek Alphabetic Script

Inscriptions from Cyprus in syllabic script provide the most instructive comparative tool available for scholarly discussions concerning the Greek alphabet. This is due to the fact that from the second millennium onwards a certain portion of the Cypriote population included native Greek speakers. The adoption of the alphabetic Greek script among this group provides a yardstick by which current theories of the reception, spread and use of this invention might usefully be compared. The paper seeks to go beyond the evaluation of the archaeological evidence alone, and by using the tool of analytical epigraphy, investigate the use of writing in ancient Cyprus and its relation to the extant remains in the archaeological record. Literary and dialectical evidence will be called upon to complete the picture of ancient writing. This work recognises that the evidence of archaeology alone obscures, distorts, and denies the literate practices of the ancient world.

DUHOUX, Yves (Université Catholique de Louvain)
The Eteocretans claimed to be the first inhabitants of the island of Crete. Actually, they could well be the descendants of some Minoans of the second millennium BC - anyway, they spoke a language which is not Greek, but which is still not satisfactorily identified nor interpreted. The Eteocretans used the Greek alphabet to write their texts (seventh to third / second centuries BC). Which was their relationship with the Greek alphabetic script? Did they play some role in its creation? Why did they use the Greek alphabet? How does their script differ from the ordinary Greek one in the archaic and classic periods? These are some of the questions which will be addressed in this paper.

BENNET, John (Sheffield)
Greek Scripts of the Bronze Age

JOHNSTON, Alan (University College, London)
Aspects of Diversity in Early Greek Graphics
In this paper I review some aspects of alphabetic transmission and development that have been recently raised and add thoughts about some. Particular interest attaches to some dating problems concerning early Phrygian script, while recent publications and finds have, or will, focus attention once more on the leading role played by Euboeans and their Phoenician partners in the spread of an/the alphabet in some areas of the Greek-speaking world. A few aspects of "mixed" alphabets will be discussed and some outstanding literal problems.

LURAGHI, Nino (Toronto)
The Local Scripts from nature to Culture: on the Function of Local Alphabets in Archaic Greece
It is commonly assumed that the various local alphabets that emerged in connection with the adaptation of the Semitic alphabet to the Greek language were essentially the result of accident. Factors invoked to explain this phenomenon include differences in the phonetic perception of speakers of different Greek dialects and simple errors of transmission. This paper argues that differentiation between Greek local alphabets was not accidental. Building on the results of recent research on the use of Greek dialects as markers of ethnic borders, it is argued that the local alphabets were perceived and used by the Greeks much in the same way and that a comprehensive appreciation of the drawing of linguistic borders within the archaic Greek world should combine the evidence of the dialects and of the alphabets. Correspondingly, the emergence of the local alphabets should be seen as a specific cultural phenomenon, not as the result of natural factors.

ADIEGO, Ignacio-J. (Barcelona)
The Spread of Alphabetic Writing among the Non-Greek Peoples of Anatolia
This paper presents a brief summary of Phrygian, Lydian, Lycian, Carian and Sidetic alphabets. From their study it becomes clear that a direct Greek origin is the simplest explanation for all, even in Carian and Sidetic, the most doubtful cases . In the case of Carian is an alternative origin considered, though only as an alternative hypothesis to a Greek source. In Phrygian, Lydian, Lycian, and perhaps also in Carian - if the hypothesis defended in Adiego (1998) is accepted - the adaptation consisted basically in preserving Greek letters for sounds present in Greek and in the respective indigenous alphabets, and in introducing new letters for unfamiliar phonemes. As for the creation of these new letters, purely internal mechanisms were preferred to foreign sources, but an interchange of signs between these local scripts is also possible.

LOMAS, Kathryn (University College, London)
The Greek Alphabet in South-East Italy: the Culture of Writing between Greeks and Non-Greeks
The Greek alphabet in Sicily and southern Italy was widely used as a medium for writing in a variety of non-Greek languages, as well as within the Greek colonies themselves. The pattern of diffusion of the Greek alphabet, and the uses to which it is put, is complex and must be examined in the context of the wider culture of writing in the areas which adopted it. This paper will examine the development of writing in the Greek alphabet in one such area - south-east Italy. This region, traditionally divided into Daunia, Peucetia and Messapia according to the usage of Greek and Roman writers, is one of considerable cultural diversity. Despite early contact with the Greeks of Tarentum and elsewhere, writing is not adopted in significant quantity until the 4th century BC. The smaller group of earlier inscriptions show a markedly different character. This paper will discuss the development of writing in this region in the context of the wider cultural developments of the 5th-4th centuries BC, and in particular the development of different types of identity (local, personal and ethnic) in this area, and the impact of its exposure to a variety of external cultural influences.

NASO, Alessandro (ISCIMA) & BENELLI, Enrico (Universita del Molise)
Etruria between the Iron Age and Orientalizing Period and the Adoption of the Alphabet
Alessandro Naso
The historical framework of Etruria in the eighth to seventh centuries BC shows a changing landscape. During this period a shift took place from villages to cities and later from huts with thatched roofs to houses with tile-covered roofs. The exploitation of important natural resources and maritime trade produced deep transformations in the society, with many individuals changing their social status. Foreign cultural models were sought and adopted thanks to the mobility of men, ideas and goods. This section of the paper aims to follow the spread of Near Eastern and Greek objects in Etruria and their consequences on Etruscan society respectively in the 8th and 7th centuries BC.

Enrico Benelli
Epigraphy is by no means a necessary and immediate consequence of the adoption of writing skills; one of the aims of my paper is to attempt to sketch an interpretation of the oldest Etruscan inscriptions as evidence of an aristocratic system of gift-exchange which was strongly tied up with ritualised friendship between kinship groups and peer groups. As far as the question on the actual origins of Etruscan graphemes is concerned, in my opinion all forms of Etruscan letters can be traced back to Euboean prototypes, with only two exceptions, the so-called san and the "blue" xi or samekh. The Etruscan scribes probably introduced these graphemes in an archaizing reconstruction of the Phoenician alphabet, which the Greeks themselves considered the ancestor of their own.

DE HOZ, Javier (Madrid)
The Early Hispanic Writings as Responses to the Phoenician Consonantal Script
Panorama of the Paleo-Hispanic scripts. State of publication and recent finds. The use of the writing. The problem of origins. The different sign lists. Hypothesis on the origin and the transformations of the Paleo-Hispanic writing.

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