By R. Cedric Leonard

Evidence continues to mount indicating that the history of alphabetic writing dates much further back than the Phoenicians (1600 B.C.). Other more ancient scripts keep surfacing which place the much touted "invention" of Cadmus in grave doubt.

Lately, a Yale University scriptographer, John Coleman Darnell and his wife Deborah, turned up alphabetic writing dating back to 1800-1900 B.C. in a valley near Luxor in Egypt. The site is known as Wadi-el Hol ("Valley of Horror"). The script seems to be an alphabetic simplification of a few well-chosen hieroglyphics from the Egyptian writing system. Two inscriptions are known.

The script is graphically similar to the Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions found at Serabit El-Khadem in 1904-05 by Sir Flinders Petrie, but is somewhat older and further south. It is my opinion that these, combined with the Azilian and Glozel characters, eventually emerged as the so-called "Phoenician alphabet" upon which our own alphabet is based.

The BBC News also recently announced the find of early writing on pottery fragments among the ruins of the ancient Indus civilization in Pakistan dating back some 5500 years. The fragments were unearthed at the site of Harappa, and it is believed that the inscribed shards could represent the earliest known examples of writing. The characters resemble alphabetic signs.

Writing on pottery shard in Pakistan

According to Dr. Richard Meadow of Harvard, director of the Harappa Archaeological Research Project, the pottery inscriptions "may pre-date all other known writing". (This statement in itself confirms the fact that the Glozel tablets continue to be ignored.)

Also recently, Greek archeologist Panikos Chrysotomou has reported a find consisting of lines and dots inscribed on stones which may turn out to be a form of alphabetic writing, although so far it is totally indecipherable. The find was made at Tiannitsa in northern Greece, and is dated at 5300 B.C.

Last updated: 12 Dec 2007.
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